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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.
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.