John Stuart Mill, one of the most important economists of the 1800s, arrived in La Spezia in 1855. He declared in a letter to his wife: “I think that this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life”. The Irish novelist Charles James Lever lived in La Spezia for 16 years and pronounced the same words about the beloved town. Besides Rebecka Mendelssohn, granddaughter of the famous German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, visited the Gulf of Poets in 1843 and wrote to her sister the following words: “I cannot understand how you can talk about Italy when you have never seen Spezia.” Also Shelley was in love with the Gulf of La Spezia and visited it for the first time with his wife Mary Shelley towards the end of 1821. The Gulf of La Spezia is an harmonious amphitheatre: to the west the hamlet of Portovenere with its islands Plamaria, Tino and Tinetto and the territory of Tramonti leading to the “Cinque Terre”, while to the east Lerici with its Castle and, carrying on, the rocky promontory of Montemarcello with its wonderful small inlets.
La Spezia is a lovely seaside town that boasts, in addition to the Naval Military Arsenal, the University Campus G. Marconi, an important point of reference for whoever wants to specialize in boating, and the PortoLAB project, by Contship Italia Group, that every year hosts school classes scheduled to visit its maritime Terminals. La Spezia is also home to four among the first five most important nautical companies, three of which are internationally renowned. This gorgeous town is worth a visit on foot: from the famous height named “Il Poggio” you’ll easily reach the popular “Prione Street” on foot, a picturesque “Carugio” with its colored little houses. Walking along this street till its end, first you’ll meet “Piazza Garibaldi” with its sculpture “Le Vele”, then “Piazza Saint Bon”: “Le Camere di Teo”, Teo’s Rooms, is just 50 mt. away. The MUST SEE list also includes: “Sant’Agostino Square” with the “Bust of the Castiglione Countess”, Virginia Oldoini, and the Wagner Statue by the Russian sculptor Aidyn Zeilanov, the Church of St. John with the painting “Madonna with Infant” in “Via Salita al Castello”, the Transport Museum, the Futurist Mosaics of the Post Office, the Public Gardens with its Liberty jewel “Il Palco della Musica”, the “Morin Promenade” with its mythical lighthouse and the statue of the “Mermaid in the Gulf” and finally the “Cristo Re Cathedral” in the “Europa Square”.
Lerici, a gorgeous fishing village located in one of the most beautiful bays of the Ligurian Riviera of Levante, boasts a perfect symbiosis between past and present: rich in historical and artistic testimonies and in religious traditions too, this small fishing hamlet holds onto its reputation of an equipped and modern seaside resort. Lerici is enclosed in the marvelous Gulf of the Poets and has a unique coast, embellished by villages set in lush olive groves, including Fiascherino, Tellaro and Montemarcello.
Portovenere is a beautiful hamlet in the Eastern Ligurian Riviera, a promontory that interfaces the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. Before arriving to this hamlet via the Napoleonic Route, you will meet the seaside villages of Marola, Cadimare, Fezzano and Le Grazie. You will access the ancient hamlet through the monumental door connected, on its right hand side, to a fortified wall descending from the Castle and, on its left hand side, to the Capitular Tower (1160). Alongside the “carugio” in Capellini Street you can admire the old tower-houses and eventually reach St. Peter’s Square over which the famous St. Peter’s Church rises. The latter, built in gothic style over the rocky spur at the end of the village, with white and grey stripes, was erected over the ancient remains of the pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Venus Ericina.
The first village of the 5 Terre, coming from the central railway station FS of La Spezia, is the picturesque Riomaggiore. Located between two steep terraced hills that descend towards the sea in steep cliffs, this ancient hamlet strikes the visitor with its vertically built and gorgeously painted houses. Manarola, the second village coming from La Spezia, is like a fresco with sunny colors: a paradise of vines and olive trees. It’s a lovely hamlet with saline colours and houses that seem to be born from the cliff of the long and narrow marina. Corniglia, the third amazing village, perched on a hundred meters high cliff, is the only hamlet with a sweet country flavour, located further away from the sea. A daily shuttle service connects this village to its railway station down below. .