Climbing up La Spezia Stairways

December 26, 2016

Scalinata CErnaia, una delle scalinate di Spezia - Ph. Tiziano Riva

It might seem an exaggeration to equate La Spezia to Paris, but even if on a smaller scale, some of the streets, buildings, and stairs that were built in the nineteenth century in the center of the city resemble the contemporary urban style of Paris is the Art Nouveau, the “Liberty” style in Italy.

Like many other cities of Liguria, La Spezia is built on at least two llevels: the Sea level and that of the Uptown , on the hills that surround it. The town of La Spezia in its origins mainly developed at sea level along the Via del Prione Directive. The Castle of Saint Georgio  was up and separated from the city, although its walls linked him to the small town. Not much more was included in the original core: so it was until the mid-nineteenth century.
With the development of the naval base and the strength of the Navy , Spezia has grown more for the population and size, one extraordinary development that is unmatched by other Italian cities of the time and which is expressed in particular with new architectures and urban model that took in Paris one of his aesthetic models.
It might seem an exaggeration to equate La Spezia in Paris but, although on a smaller scale, some of the boulevards, and especially Buildings and stairs that were built in this period in the city center remind the contemporary urban style of Paris: it is the ‘ Art Nouveau style, and Italian “ Liberty “, that wants to give grace to city that is growing decorating its details, even the most functional.
The prospect of Spallanzani Staircase. Photo of Paul Spetale
The prospect of Spallanzani Staircase. Paolo Spetale photo
Spezia stairs are designed to reach uphill urbanized areas, with rows of trees to walk in the shade in the summer, and long enough to ensure that the steps are not too steep.
The Spezia stairs are today one of the most fascinating attractions in the city , and allow visitors to climb to the citizens and to the hills Castle of Saint George , if you prefer to more comfortable lift. From there, you can see the city to the sea .

The Cernaia staircase and its trees

The staircase of Cernaia is perhaps the one which has most maintained over time as before: it was built and the first years of the ‘900 and its name recalls the battle won in the Crimea against Russia from the Piedmont and France. Its”sister” dedicated to Lazzaro Spallanzani, natural scientist who performed some experiments in Portovenere, it underwent radical changes at the bottom during the Second World War, when it became an air raid shelter, and recently for the construction a tunnel that connects the opposite sides of the city. Both stairs were built to link the lower part of the city to via XXVII Marzo, the Via of the castle and Via dei Colli, originally a military connection, in view of an urban extension upwards.
The two staircases are decorated with perspective games, the shaped treads gracefully to allow the water to drain and the railings that are twisted around double facing fanned ramps . A double row of Sophora japonica trees is a small green lung for the city and the cool air on the way up.

Palaces of the 19thand 20th centuries, among the most beautiful in the city, some of which retain ancient decorations, you can see the stairs.
The stairway of Saint George leads from the center of Via Manzoni, crossing Via XX Settembre up to the Castle of St. George. From its highest point you can admire one of the most beautiful views in the city-and the sea.
But there are many stairs of La Spezia to discover, some through the oldest part of the city, are not always in good condition, but climbing by one or more of these scales is definitely something you should do to enjoy a great look characteristic of the city, and understand its different levels and its stories.

Teresa Turano


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