Is La Spezia worth a visit? Hell Yeah!

What to visit in La Spezia and surroundings? While the Cinque Terre were once enough, now with the biological district, historic Sarzana and the new course of La Spezia, you risk making a mistake  if you leave the area too quickly.

Cinque Terre is a delight to visit – at least once in a lifetime – basically a must see. The risk for many, though, is that it ends up being the only tourist attraction of the area of La Spezia, which has quite a lot to offer. Who wants to spend some time in Cinque Terre instead must know that there are many good reasons to go beyond the Cinque Terre and understand better the territory in which they are embedded. Food, nightlife, the quietness and budget holidays, are only a few of the reasons to go further, after visiting the Cinque Terre.

1 – Acommodation in the Cinque Terre full? Sleeping elsewhere is not that bad

The Cinque Terre is a charming place, but very popular. Especially in high season, it is not easy to find a place to stay and – when you find it – it might be pricey. In recent years, in all surrounding areas have flourished dozens and dozens of small accommodation facilities. Especially in val di Vara and La Spezia there are many B&Bs that allow tourists to stay overnight in a reasonably closest accommodation to the Cinque Terre and usually at a lower cost. The val di Vara is a good solution for those who travel by bike (or motorbike, while the car is still not recommended to visit the Cinque Terre), while La Spezia town is the ideal place for getting around by train. If you do not find a room in the Cinque Terre, therefore, do not give up: there’s a good chance that you will not regret choosing accommodation elsewhere.
The Cinque Terre stations packed with people
The Cinque Terre stations packed with people

2 – From Portovenere to Tellaro: the arch of the gulf of La Spezia is to be discovered.

A touristic destination seldom exploited until a few years ago, the Gulf of Poets is now rapidly growing also from this point of view, relying on absolute scenic wonders and gourmet traditions, making it an enjoyable break. Hiking and lying on the beach on the Palmaria Island, discovering San Terenzo loved by the romantic poets, the Gulf of Poets has in itself legends (like the one of the Tellaro octopus) and stories to learn about (like the one of the Scola Tower, almost destroyed to win on Napoleone or of the beautiful Simonetta Vespucci, born in Fezzano and then portrayed by Botticelli) experiencing a still partly pristine land. The sunset viewed from La Serra is by itself worth a visit: Lerici at your feet and the sun getting down the sea behind Portovenere.
Vista di Portovenere al Trmonto ph Riva
View of Portovenere at sunset - Ph. T. Riva

3- The villages and the tranquility of the Val di Vara and Val di Magra: different and indispensable

Far from the crowds of the Cinque Terre, very different from each other, and yet full of charm: the val di Vara and Val di Magra are two territories that should not be underestimated. The first, directly in the outback of the Cinque Terre, in the last years became an important center of organic productions excellence and is, therefore, a must for slow lifestyle lovers. Varese Ligure Brugnato and Pignone are the three most important towns of the valley and the high quality of tourist accommodations is also recognized by the bestowal of the Touring Club orange flag award. The same award was given to Castelnuovo  with its awesome panoramic location in the Magra Valley, that, from Luni to Sarzana – has a long and charming story to tell. Leaving the area without visiting Sarzana,  at the same time elegant and cozy, in which is rooted the family of Napoleon Bonaparte, is a real shame. Sarzana’s lively cultural life and important events such as the Festival della Mente, is staged in the setting of a charming ancient town full of stories to tell (by the way, you know the legend of the Sword in the stone of Sarzana?).

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Kayak in the Gulf of Poets at sunset - 60 €

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4- La Spezia: the ugly duckling is no longer there

The La Spezia of today is not the one of a dozen years ago. If the industrial city and military port had melted in a city in deep crisis, today La Spezia is a town that is reinventing itself and where – even with many problems – you can feel the energy of change. If you want to visit a city that has something to say and takes into account high standards of life, La Spezia is today worth a visit.

A decorations of the liberty buildings of La Spezia - Ph. T. Riva
The center – which in the recent past had staked everything on its museums to re-launch tourism – is now flourishing again and the city in two colors of the past is finding vivacity, even in the evening, thanks to a number of places that offer the possibility to get a drink, a dinner or after dinner whatever your budget. Beautiful public gardens pedestrian streets of the town center with shops the waterfront the modern bridge Thaon Revel, the Art Nouveau buildings that survived the bombings of World war II may be an incentive enough for at least one day visit (not Rio de Janeiro or Rome, or Paris, but well worth the visit). But please be advised: what matters is the rhythm, the lifestyle here is slow. It will be with its slowness that this land will capture your imagination. If you plan to visit the Cinque Terre, allow yourself a few extra days, and take time to discover many unexpected gems.
Cosa fare a Spezia da crocierista? - ph Tiziano Riva
Walking on the sea promenade is one of the pleasures of visiting La Spezia - Ph. T. Riva
Teresa Turano

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