Places to see in La Spezia

You could be surprised with the many places to see in La Spezia Italy that you might not expect. Generally natural beauty of the town’s surroundings are popular and known, but also some city’s sightseeing can give the visitor the pleasure of the local artistic beauty and of a nice walk in a small vivid town, definitely worth a couple of days stay.

One of the most interesting attractions in La Spezia is the Medieval castle, on the uptown of the city. It tells the origins of the fortified structure of La Spezia, the strong military call of the town, that already in the early years of the XIII century was at the center of wars of regional dominance for its strategic position in northern Italy and for its natural, well tenable harbor.
Also today La Spezia is one of the main military ports in Italy: while looking down from the top of the hills you will notice Italy’s navy warships anchored in the military arsenal. This cannot be visited, but the Naval Museum of La Spezia preserves really interesting witnesses of ancient and contemporary war, commercial and civilian ships history.
libertyFrom an artistic point of view, La Spezia has some remarkable examples of the so told Turin’s Liberty style (one of the Italian Art Deco style versions) churches and buildings hosting some interesting works of art, that make of La Spezia an opportunity to appreciate a sort of Italian art compendium during a walk in the city center.
Walk to the very central Piazza Verdi and look up: the buildings of this area are a beautiful example of what La Spezia was towards the end of the 19th century, the years of the military and urban development of the city under the control of the Savoia Royal family and the French. The Turin’s and Parisian’s style of that age is recognizable in the arcades, the elegant facades and the graceful big windows of the buildings.
Piazza Verdi, recently at the center of a urban modernization, is nevertheless an important modern city hub: the huge Palazzo delle Poste was built in the 1930ies; in its massive and square structure, built with Monsummano and Portoro bricks, hosts a quite unique great Futuristic mosaic work, in Ligurian ceramic stones decorating the interior of the tower of the Palazzo. The futuristic theme chosen by the authors Prampolini and Fillia is communications (land, air and sea), well fitted with the character of the so rapidly developed city of the time.

You can also admire a few examples of Baroque art in town: one of the main examples of this style is in Piazza Sant’Agostino, the Palazzo Oldoini, which belonged to one of the most intriguing characters of the city’s history, the Virginia Castiglione Countess, a beautiful La Spezia woman who allegidly contributed to Italy’s unification thanks to her royal liaisons. The Palazzo, together with the relative De’ Nobili Palazzo, cannot be visited inside but the soft and harmonious lines, friezes of shell, heads of lions and floral motifs on the openings and timpani can be appreciated from the outside, where is also a bust dedicated to the Countess.
In the very same square, the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino hosts some examples of Baroque art in the big altar’s painting by Bernardino Lanino (a version of which is exposed also at the London National Gallery) representing the Virgin that frees the souls in purgatory to take them to heaven.

As often happens, Piazza Sant’Agostino was the former Medieval city center, with the Porta Romana, the gate showing the direction to Rome to transport especially salt, as the old “House of Salt” still witnesses. The former square included an ancient convent and the walls towards the sea, and spread from Piazzetta del Bastione to Via del Prione. At the time, as today, the district of Sant’Agostino had many shops; the same convent of Sant’Agostino, built in 1376, it had eight, that looked toward the square. Some of the oldest witnesses of the ancient La Spezia can be found here: in Via Sant’Agostino, on the right, looking at the buildings, you can see a round arch with a bifora, beyond the walls outcropping at the corners of some buildings, witnessing the ancient appearance of the city.

Across Via del Prione, one of the oldest towns’ streets, today animated with the nicest boutiques, the Church of Santa Maria is one of the most ancient and representative places in town: it also hosts a precious terracotta altarpiece by Andrea Della Robbia.