Many visitors in La Spezia wish to see the Naval Base and arsenal of the city, but the Technical and Naval Museum of La Spezia next to it is definitely worth a visit.
La Spezia naval base is since 1870 one of the main Navy ports in Italy, but visiting it is not possible for security reasons. Yet, those who are interested in the navy and telecommunication history can definitely enjoy a visit to the Technical Naval Museum in La Spezia, right next to the base. Specially kids will love the battleships models, like the one of the Amerigo Vespucci, the “most beautiful ship in the world“. The museum mainly displays weapons and battleships models, together with naval equipment prototypes. It is therefore very different from the Venice Naval Museum, more focused on the seamanship history as a whole. But also the recently renewed figureheads hall is a very interesting section of the Museum, collecting figureheads from all over the world.
It is indeed the most romantic area of the museum, where one dream about the ancient ships telling their stories with these often beautifully crafted figures. In some cases, the figureheads have their stories and legends also once they were detached from their ships. It is the case of the beautiful Atalanta figurehead, whose beautyenchanted a sailor to death.
In the Telecommunications section, a very interesting collection of the early radios with which Guglielmo Marconi made his first experiments. La Spezia naval base is one of the places where Guglielmo Marconi repeatedly performed important experiments on behalf and with the decisive contribution of the Royal Navy. Since 1897, when the first tests took place, the collaboration between Marina Militare and Marconi was intense and continuous.
On 10 July 1897 Marconi arrives in La Spezia, he is 23 years old. He begins the first experiments in the location of San Bartolomeo where a radio antenna is raised, first 25 meters high, then brought to 34 meters, and a receiving device is placed in the Arsenal entrance square. The earth-sea experiments begin on July 14th of the same year between San Bartolomeo and the tugboat n. 8 (it is transmitted in Morse code for about 15 minutes). The distance between the tugboat and the ground base is brought up to a distance of 12,700 meters.
In 1899 Marconi completed a series of experiments between the stations located on the island of Palmaria, the island of Gorgona and Livorno, arriving to transmit up to 80 kilometers. In 1909 the scientist received the Nobel Prize. The Naval Museum of La Spezia displays a number of early tools and prototypes used by the scientist during these experiments.
The base and the museum are strongly connected with Italian Navy Special Forces, the Incursori.
They made the history of navy operational raids especially in WWI, and today also on the mountains of Afghanistan, equipped with special over- and underwater vehicles for silent insertions. In the Museum, it is possible to see Raffaele Paolucci and Raffaele Rossetti’s manned torpedo (usually referred to as “Mignatta” or “leech”), with which they sank the Slovene battleship Jugoslavija in Pula’s port, with no underwater breathing gears, with their heads above water.