Ahh La Spezia… Beautiful city laying down on the coast of Mediterranean Sea and being an entrance and for many a start point for exploring breathtaking Cinque Terre. For many just a stop to come there “by the way” visiting this five small villages being Unesco heritage. Let’s be honest- for me it was also. Was. Because then when I arrived there I had no regret that I started my adventure with this region exactly in this place.
Just after heading out of train station which is set quite up above neighboring streets (as the whole city tends to be quite hilly), to our eyes got the view of beautiful classy- italian tenement houses. Painted with full range of colors, stripy, plain, in patterns, with typical various window shutters, peculiar balconies and ornamentations. How not to fall in love? And this is just our first sight.
Various narrow streets
Getting inside the city and going ahead to the port we can notice that La Spezia is as Italian as it can be. All the paths looks similar- lively narrow streets consisting of typical colorful Mediterranean architecture with a lot of shops, street stands, restaurants, pizzerias, gelaterias and many more… Just to enjoy!
Here we can again see the impact of landscape on shaping the city. There are many beautiful vertical green promenades like this, being like terraces looking over the narrow streets.
Of course we can’t forget of the pride of Italian- real Italian gelato! My favorite thing of Italy during my stay there. If ice-cream, so nowhere but in Italy! Pure heaven…
Promenade and port
Totally “must see” place in La Spezia is undoubtedly Passeggiata Constantino Morin. It lays between Public Gardens of the city full of palms, flowers and full range of colors and port with Apuan Alps closing the horizon. Walking under the palms we can admire on one side beautiful coastal architecture and on another the piece of nature going inside the city- Mediterranean Sea. Architecture, palms, flowers, sea, boats, mountains… seems perfect, huh? That’s why it’s the most popular walkway in the city where we can admire the view from many arranged there for rest places.
Another attraction connected to the port is the wide range of cruises offered by locals. Most popular ones are heading to Portovenere ( totally amusing place laid on the west from La Spezia with beautiful beach surrounded by typical architecture and some exceptional spots. More about this place you can find at the end of this article), but also to Cinque Terre (more about this breathtaking place you can find in this post- Cinque Terre vol 1). There are several options to choose as one-pass ticket, daily one etc. Perfect choice for sailing lovers or for those who want to make their adventure more unique than just a train travel. Unfortunately, much more expensive. But well, all the pleasures have their cost, don’t they?
Castle and panorama
Spending our lovely time next to the sea, we’re deciding get back again to the corridors of colorful streets and head to another city well-known attraction- San Giorgio Castle. It is set above the sea level thanks to that it is also a perfect view point and a place to admire full panorama of the city.
The castle itself was originally built in 13th century and nowadays serves as Archeological Museum. Maybe you can’t find there full range of exhibitions, but it’s still interesting spot for amateurs of history and fully worth to go for stunning panorama.
What is interesting, you can reach this place by climbing next and next stipe city streets but also use dedicated for it elevator and funicular which will take you there directly from main pedestrian street on the sea level. We, as we were exploring La Spezia without any plan and without a map, found the second option by accident, just intrigued by its purpose tried to use it and found by accident this beautiful place. Totally worth it, taking into consideration the destination and the fact that both elevator and funicular and totally free of charge.
If you want to fall totally into Italian atmosphere and gelato, colorful streets and beautiful palms and sea are still not enough, so for sure the thing you shall try is Italian apero! Taken at late afternoon, usually before supper is totally different than in some other countries where apero is just taking a glass of drink.
Here, for Italians it’s real celebration. A time for rest and joy after whole day of work, travel or just living. You can find wide range of both soft and alcoholic drinks (the most popular and advised to try is Spritz based on Prosecco and Aperol). But drink itself is not the end. Dependently of price and place where you take your Apero it can look differently. Most often, you just pay for a drink and food is already included. By food I mean snacks, pieces of pizza, pasta, chips, cheese, ham, sandwiches, focaccia, nuts and many, many more. It can be delivered on your table in already ranged quantity or can be served on bar and you can enjoy it without limit. One is sure, it’s typical Italian activity and one of their favorite part of the day.
Allora… Cin cin!
Tips & Spots
Although for me La Spezia was only a short one afternoon stop on my way to Cinque Terre as I got to know it has much to offer also for longer exploration.
Here I prepared for you a list, where I grab together all the interesting spots:
- Museum Amedeo Lia – museum of antic, medieval and modern art. Comparable to the ones much more known in Florence, although on same level of importance and without overwhelming queues!
- Naval Technical MuseumÂ – as long as La Spezia is place where you can find the largest naval base in Italy this museum is the most important naval one. For sure worth seen when you’ve got a bit of free time to spare.
- CAMeC Museum – museum of contemporary and modern art with three major collections and temporary ones.
- The Ethnographic Museum – clothes, homes, traditions and much more to get to know about the life of our ancestors from he study of people and their culture.
- The Museum of Seals – unexpected subject, huh? Again La Spezia surprised me and has to offer the biggest in the world collection of seals used for documents. The oldest are reaching even 3000 year B.C.!
Of course La Spezia is not only about the museums! I’m sure that the first association is sea, palms and stunning time on the sandy beach. Yup, but how about this beach?!
In La Spezia itself we don’t have much opportunity to make advantage of beautiful Mediterranean Sea. No worries, there are at least two amazing spots just out of its borders.
First, and one of the most popular is Portovenere. This teeny-tiny town will steal your heart from the first sight with the beautiful coast and colorful houses. The same as Cinque Terre it is protected by UNESCO. Apart of he beach you can visit there multiple interesting architectural monuments, as: gothic Church of St. Peter, romanesque Church of St. Lawrence, The Doria Castle. This beautiful town is easily reachable from La Spezia by public transport bus or as mentioned before by cruise.
Â Photo source: Â http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com
Photo source: Â http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com
Second popular place typically picked for beach visiting trip is Lerici. There again, apart of beautiful bay and stunning colorful architecture we can admire the example of one of the best Ligurian castles, where now is locatedÂ MuseumÂ of Paleontology. Similarly asÂ before, Lerici is easily accessible by public transport bus or cruise.
Photo source: Â http://www.casagiangare.it
For your convenience I put all the attractions and important spots I talked about on one map, which you can use for planning your trip.
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So don’t wait, just Dream Up Travel!