La Spezia, Italy

La Spezia is a city in the region of Liguria, in the north of Italy, in the Gulf of La Spezia.  It’s southeast of Genova, west of Bologna and northwest of Florence, between Genova and Pisa.  It’s one of the most important military and commercial harbour cities.  Further on OTO Melara, one of the biggest military industries in Italy, is there.  In 2001 there were 91,391 people living there.  La Spezia is the capital of the equally named province.

La Spezia has no special historical or architectural characteristics, except the modern Cristo Re alla Spezia cathedral from around 1960 and the Lia Art museum. The post office has some futuristic mozaiques from Enrico Prampolini.

The city is unique in Italy because it’s a very modern city – almost every building is from 1920 or later – and doesn’t have a lot special things to see.  There are a lot of beautiful places to see in the neighbourhood though like Lerici, Portovenere and the Cinque Terre, all on the Gulf of La Spezia, on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Nearby is the ‘pirate nest’ Porto Venere, a characteristic old village with about 5000 inhabitants (1997).  It’s built against the slopes of the rocky hills with steep streets and a lot of steps.  High white houses, some from the 12th century, create a picturesque place.  You can see aspects of the Genoese times in the strengthened houses on the corners.  The  San Lorenzo cathedral, also from the 12th century, has a nice portal with a lot of religious representations.  From everywhere you can see the powerful citadel, a fortress from the 16th century and made to protect La Spezia.

At the far end of the peninsula you can find the the small church San Pietro from the 13th century.  The marble floor is even from the 6th century.  From here you have a nice view over the Gulf of La Spezia and island Tino and Palmaria at 150 m on the other side.  Here the famous black yellow Portoro-marmer is mined.  Also closeby there you can find  Carrara marble where also Michelangelo himself reserved the best pieces.  Also worth to see is the Dom Santa Maria Assunta (1377).

(source: wikipedia.org)

Things to see

  • Cinque Terre
  • Florence
  • Lucca
  • Lerici
  • Maranello (heart of the Italian race industry)
  • Pisa
  • Portofino
  • Santa Margherita

Shopping

Disney recommends these shops in Florence, but there are a lot more of course.

  • The Gold Corner: Designer juwels and original Roman coins.
  • Italianloves: Italian wine and olive oil.
  • La Galleria Michelangelo: Italian leather and 18 kt. gold.
  • Mishuri and the Gold Market: Italian leather and 18 kt. gold.
  • Bartolucci: Several things handmade in wood.

You can find more pictures here.

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