La Spezia, the pearl of Liguria and a fascinating port city, holds a wealth of attractions that will surprise you. Not only is it an important connecting hub for exploring the enchanting Levante region of Liguria, but it also boasts a variety of wonders all waiting to be discovered.
A significant number of museums, both art and maritime, stand out for their attention to detail and interesting cultural offerings, making La Spezia a must-see for art and history enthusiasts. The alleys of the old town, with their unique character, picturesque walks among the palm trees, and charming Art Nouveau stairways will make you fall in love with the city.
The pulsating pulse of La Spezia is also revealed in its bustling market, a place where authentic local life can be breathed. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor Ligurian cuisine, famous for its fresh and genuine flavors. And for those who want to take a moment to relax, breathtaking views are always at hand.
Although many consider La Spezia to be just a simple port city, in recent times it has gone through a period of renewal that has seen a series of major building upgrades highlighting its hidden charms. The time has come to take a look at La Spezia, discovering all its fascinating facets.
Stay tuned to learn more about what to see and do in La Spezia, a true jewel of the Italian Riviera just waiting to be explored.
What to see in La Spezia
La Spezia is an often underrated destination in Italian tourism, but the Ligurian city offers a unique blend of culture, history, and vibrant local life that makes it an essential stop on your trip to the Ligurian Riviera.
In the hub of La Spezia’s bustling historic center, Via del Prione-known famously as Il Carugio Drito-represents the perfect blend of ancient and modern and guards the city’s beating heart.
Although not perfectly straight, as its dialect name (Carugio Drito) suggests, Via del Prione is one of the oldest streets in La Spezia.
Carugio Drito is a journey through time through the history and architecture of La Spezia. Along the way we can admire historic facades, beautiful noble houses and many beautiful examples of local architecture.
One of the main sights to note during a walk in Carugio Drito is the Civic Theater, a key landmark for the city’s cultural and entertainment events.
But Carugio Drito is not only a monument to La Spezia’s history. The street is lively and bustling, filled with fashion stores, artisan boutiques, cozy cafes and renowned wine bars. During the day, the surrounding streets are bustling with crowds of people, not only from the area, who delight in shopping, while cafes provide an opportunity for a relaxing break. The many restaurants and trattorias along the street offer a wide range of dining options, ideal for sampling delicious Ligurian cuisine.
A visit to La Spezia would not be complete without a walk along the fascinating Lungomare, sometimes known as the “Morin Promenade.” Its picturesque views of the Gulf of Poets, with colors constantly changed by the play of sunlight, have inspired many artists and poets over the centuries.
La Spezia’s waterfront stretches for several kilometers along the harbor, creating a cool maritime oasis in the heart of the city. During hot summer days, it is the ideal setting for a relaxed walk in the cool, surrounded by the breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea.
At the start of the waterfront, you will find the charming Mirabello Harbor, a bustling place filled with luxurious yachts, restaurants, and cafes overlooking the sea. A short distance away, the modern commercial port is a teeming with activity. Here you can watch ships arriving and departing or simply enjoy the view of the city and its surrounding hills from the sea.
The highlight of a walk along the waterfront is undoubtedly the Public Gardens. Located halfway along the waterfront, these well-maintained gardens offer beautiful green spots to relax, with picnic areas, children’s playgrounds, and beautiful sea views.
Along the waterfront, you will also find the Marino Marini Museum, which celebrates La Spezia’s maritime history, and the imposing Fortezza Del Mare, an ancient maritime fortress overlooking the gulf.
Thaon bridge of Revel
The Thaon di Revel Bridge represents a significant symbol of the city of La Spezia. The pedestrian bridge, with its remarkable length of 150 meters, is an important structure that connects two important points of the city: the Morin promenade and the Mirabella marina.
Designed and built using a combination of steel, concrete, and wood, the bridge highlights advanced engineering and sophisticated design. Its sturdy and durable structure is emblematic of La Spezia’s strength and progress.
As a pedestrian bridge, the Thaon di Revel Bridge provides an ideal place for relaxing walks, offering pedestrians the opportunity to move easily between the Morin promenade and the Mirabella marina.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of the Thaon di Revel Bridge is the wide panoramic view it offers of the harbor area
. This prime location allows visitors to enjoy beautiful views of the water, the ships docking and the entire port area.
The Thaon di Revel Bridge is more than just a transit structure. It represents an important icon of La Spezia, symbolizing the city’s innovation, connectivity and beauty.
The Naval Technical Museum in La Spezia is a fascinating place for anyone interested in maritime and naval history. Located in the heart of La Spezia, a city with a strong naval tradition, the museum offers an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits devoted to the technology and history of maritime navigation.
The museum’s collection is eclectic and extensive, with thousands of pieces on display. These include models of historic ships, antique nautical instruments, naval weapons, uniforms, documents, and photographs. Among the most impressive exhibits are detailed models of ships and submarines, which offer an up-close look at the complex engineering of ships.
The museum is organized into 6 sections:
- Origins: the close connection between La Spezia and the Navy;
- Craftsmen: The heirlooms resulting from the work of the Arsenal’s craftsmen;
- Figureheads: the wooden figures that were placed on the bows of ships to ward off bad luck or to flaunt power and wealth;
- Men, exploits, heroes: the North Pole expeditions and the Hero of the Red Tent
- Technology and excellence: the development of naval architecture from prehistory to the present;
- Marconi: the world’s most important collection of original Marconian apparatus (opened in 2017)
One of the most interesting aspects of the Naval Technical Museum is that it not only exhibits historical pieces, but also tries to explain the operation and historical context of each item. This allows visitors to better understand not only how ships worked, but also how naval engineering and technology developed over the centuries.
In addition, the museum offers a program of educational activities for schools and groups, including guided tours and workshops. This commitment to education ensures that the Naval Technical Museum is a place of learning, as well as a museum.
San Giorgio Castle
San Giorgio Castle is located in the heart of the city of La Spezia and is a place rich in history and cultural interest. It is one of the oldest and most important architectures in the city, offering a fascinating passage through time, and also offering panoramic views of the city and its harbor.
St. George’s Castle was originally built as a fortification in the 14th century on a site that had previously been occupied by a Roman settlement. Over the centuries, the castle has undergone numerous modifications and transformations, reflecting the evolution of La Spezia’s history and architecture.
Today, the San Giorgio Castle houses the “Ubaldo Formentini” Civic Archaeological Museum. Within its solid walls, visitors can explore an extensive collection of archaeological artifacts from prehistoric to medieval times, discovering the rich and varied history of the La Spezia region.
The castle itself is an attraction, with its well-preserved medieval walls, impressive towers and other architectural structures. These structures give the castle a unique atmosphere, transporting visitors on an instant journey into the past.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable features of Castle St. George is its spectacular views. Its hilltop location offers breathtaking views of the city of La Spezia and its harbor, making it a popular destination for photographers and romantics.
CAMeC - Center of Modern and Contemporary Art
CAMeC, the Modern and Contemporary Art Center, is an important element in La Spezia’s cultural scene. The center is known for its rich collection of modern and contemporary artworks and is a landmark for art lovers.
A distinctive aspect of CAMeC is its commitment to exploring and presenting the works of emerging and lesser-known artists. The museum regularly holds temporary exhibitions devoted to new talent, providing an important stage for the promotion of contemporary creativity.
CAMeC also offers a number of educational and cultural mediation programs. These include guided tours, workshops for children and adults, lectures and performances. These services are inspired by the idea that art should be accessible and understandable to all.
The museum is housed in an early 20th-century building, once the site of an elementary school, which was later renovated and transformed into an elegant exhibition space. The large exhibition rooms, high ceilings and abundance of natural light create an ideal environment for art.
Amedeo Lia Civic Museum
The Amedeo Lia Civic Museum is a cultural emblem of La Spezia, known for its extraordinary collection of ancient artworks. Amedeo Lia, after whom the museum is named, was an important art collector who donated his vast collection to the city of La Spezia, thus creating the basis for the establishment of this museum.
The museum houses a collection of more than 1,200 works, ranging from the Middle Ages to modern times. This includes paintings, illuminated manuscripts, engravings, sculptures, gilded silver and ivories, all of rare beauty and importance. Among the most famous works are those by such masters as Tintoretto, Titian, and Pieter Brueghel the Younger.
In particular, the museum is known for its unique collection of miniatures, considered one of the most prestigious in the world. These extraordinarily detailed works offer valuable insight into the life and society of past centuries.
In addition to its permanent collections, the Amedeo Lia Civic Museum also organizes temporary exhibitions, lectures, seminars and workshops, with the aim of deepening knowledge of the artistic and cultural heritage on display.
The Amedeo Lia Civic Museum is located inside the former Monastery of San Francesco del Prato, a historic 17th-century building that adds further charm to a visit to the museum. The exhibition space is intuitively organized, offering a wide and convenient route to visit the works.
La Spezia stairways
Around La Spezia there are vantage points from which to view the city that are also worth a visit to appreciate their Art Nouveau architecture.
These are the famous stairways that connect the upper parts of the city to the waterfront.
La Spezia’s stairways are a distinctive feature of the city and offer spectacular panoramic views. These vertical streets are living examples of La Spezia’s culture and history, and walking them is like taking a trip back in time:
- The Cernaia Steps;
- St. George’s Steps;
- The Lazzaro Spallanzani staircase.
Beaches of La Spezia
La Spezia, is a must-see destination for nature and sea lovers.
If the breathtaking views of the gulf and the city’s rich history were not enough, some of the most beautiful beaches in Liguria are hidden around La Spezia, ready to give you moments of relaxation and fun. Let’s see together which seaside places are not to be missed.
Fiascherino, in the vicinity of Lerici, is famous for its two beaches enclosed by cliffs and lush vegetation. If you love equipped beaches, here you will find bathing establishments ready to welcome you. Otherwise, you can quietly enjoy the free beach. Don’t miss the fantastic sunset, which tinges the bay with warm colors.
The Blue Bay, a few kilometers from La Spezia, offers a wide sandy beach, azure waters and an exceptional natural setting. This delightful bay is perfect for families because of its excellent facilities that include a bar, restaurant and pool.
Reachable by sea or via a path with more than 700 steps, Punta Corvo is for adventurous spirits. The effort, however, will be rewarded by arriving at this pebble beach hidden among the cliffs, with its crystal clear sea and incredible views.
Cinque Terre Beaches
The Cinque Terre, a UNESCO heritage site, offers small because fascinating beaches. The largest is Monterosso, with its golden sand and clear waters. Smaller, but equally fascinating, is Vernazza beach, nestled between the quaint village and the rock.
This small fishing village, one of the most beautiful in Italy, overlooks a rocky stretch of coastline. There are no real beaches, but rocky platforms and small coves where you can dive in, admiring the view of the perched village reflected in the azure waters.
In conclusion, the area around La Spezia offers a variety of beaches and coves ready to satisfy every type of traveler.
Whether you love snorkeling, equipped beaches or wilder and more secluded places, you are sure to find a beach that suits you.
Where sleeping in La Spezia
La Spezia offers a wide range of overnight options, including hotels, B&Bs, vacation homes and hostels.
Accommodation solutions suit different needs and budgets, making the city ideal for solo travelers, couples, families and groups of friends.
The historic center is perfect if you want to immerse yourself in the city’s culture and daily life, with stores, restaurants, and places of interest within easy walking distance.
Those looking for quiet accommodation may consider the residential neighborhoods, located in the hills surrounding the city, from which there are breathtaking views of the gulf and mountains.
If, on the other hand, your main goal is to visit the Cinque Terre, look for accommodation near the train station, which will enable you to easily reach the famous villages in a short time.
How to get to La Spezia
Reaching La Spezia is very simple.
La Spezia is easily accessible by car because it is connected by 2 motorways. The A12 Genoa-Livorno and the A15 which connects La Spezia to Parma and the main cities of northern Italy.
The train is just as convenient because the city is located on the railway line that crosses the whole of Liguria. From La Spezia station, as well as easily reaching all the tourist destinations in the surrounding area, you can take advantage of the direct trains to the major Italian cities.
Boat trips are recommended during the summer, when they are more frequent and the sea is calmer.
What to see in the Province of La Spezia
ACCOMMODATION IN LA SPEZIA
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