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The FAI Spring days in La Spezia: Spotlight on the Palmaria Island Fortress

The FAI Spring days in La Spezia: Visit the Umberto I Fortress on Island Palmaria and Case Lovara. 

The FAI – Italian Environmental Fund – National Spring Days, have been organized for the last 26 years involving Italian cities in the opening to public places that are normally closed to visitors, and putting the spotlight on special cultural heritage buildings often unknown even to those who live a short distance from them. There are more than 1,000 places in all Italy, that can be visited upon the payment of a free contribution during the FAI Spring Days. The contributions will be used by the National Association for the preservation of monuments and works of art.
In La Spezia, there will be two places open to the public with guided tours organized by schools and special events during the days of 24 and 25 March 2018: the Umberto I Fortress on the Palmaria Island and, for the second consecutive year the Casa Lovara farm in Cinque Terre Punta Mesco.

The Umberto I Fortress, called by locals the “Sea Fortress”, exceptional war machine in the military district of the Gulf of La Spezia

The Umberto I Fort’s view from above

The FAI’s spotlight this year is on the Umberto I Fort, was built as a part of the military sea district of La Spezia in the beginning of the 20th century, under the Kingdom of Italy, and equipped with a battery of cannons that could shoot on the sea line to face an attack. It is still considered one of the most innovative defensive facilities of the time, with its huge batteries that could be moved by steam engines, but it has also an artistic value, due to the massive use of perfectly cut locally quarried portoro marble blocks, a high quality black limestone.
It is often wrongly believed that the Fort was a military prison, which it was only for a short time in the 50ies. Yet, another fort was erected at the top of the Island, Fort Cavour, using the prisoners condemned to forced labor around 1861, at the time of the Italian unification. Among them, also the Garibaldi volunteers for the liberation of Italy. Another example of the fortified military structure is just off-shore the Umberto I one: the fascinating Torre Scola.
In the 1930ies the fort was initially strengthened in its armaments with an aerial battery, and it has recenly been renowned thanks to a La Spezia and Portovenere Municipalities plan to make local defensive buildings open to public.
The story of the fortified defensive structures in the Gulf started between 1500 and 1600, but it is with Napoleon that there is the true planning of an articulated defensive system, with a series of facilities aimed at the defense of the Gulf and above all the future arsenal, initially conceived in the cove of Le Grazie and then designed by Domenico Chiodo and Cavour in La Spezia, at the center of the Gulf.

How to Visit the Fort on The FAI Spring days in La Spezia

The students of La Spezia will welcme tourists in the Terrizzo harbor of the Palmaria Island, to be their guides during the visit of the fort, and also sharing information on the island and the Gulf.
In the fortress building, there will be a display of pictures and torpedo models supplied by the Military Force.
The Regional Natural Park of Portovenere and the Mangiatrekking Association will illustrate the natural features and paths of Palmaria
The Association Dalla Parte dei Forti  wil give a video explanation of the Gulf fortifications
The Cooperative of the Mitilicoltori will inform about the farming of mussels and oysters on Island Palmaria and prepare a tasting of the delicious Spaghetti with muscles, typical dish

Transports on the FAI Spring days in La Spezia:

From La Spezia every hour from 9 am to 4pm (last visit at 5 pm), ferry service from the Morin Walk in La Spezia:
09.00 – 10.00 – 11.00 – 12.00 – 13.00 – 14.00 – 15.00 – 16.00
Return from the Palmaria island to La Spezia:
10.30 – 11.30 – 12.30 – 13.30 – 14.30 – 15.30 – 16.30 – 17.30 – 18.30
Return fare: adults € 5.00 – children from 6 to 11 years € 3.00, under 6 years free
From Portovenere boats every half hour from the pier
9.30, 10.30, 11.30, 12.30.13,30,14,30,15,30 16,30
Return to Palmaria every hour
Ticket cost € 3.50 return ticket and children € 2.

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