The gateway to the Cinque Terre and a city of seafaring heritage from its port overlooked and guarding by the imposing Georges Castle reaching high from its hilltop
The thriving naval port town of La Spezia is conveniently located just beside the Cinque Terre region. Although often overlooked for its more famous neighbours, this bustling port has plenty to offer visitors, whether it's exploring its winding atmospheric streets, discovering fascinating historical buildings and museums, taking in the beautiful scenery or simply relaxing with a waterfront stroll and dinner in one its many cosy trattorias. It is also a perfectly placed and reasonably priced alternative base for exploring the surrounding areas.
What to do
Take a stroll along the scenic waterfront to take in the impressive modern, expansive port. There are some impressive yachts along the way in this deep-sea marina, as well as pretty views of the city and mountains behind. Wander the lanes of the historic town centre. Although suffering some damage during the second world war, there are still plenty of fascinating historical buildings to discover.
Take the walk up to the impressive Castello di San Giorgio. This 14th century fortressed castle stands on a hill overlooking the town. Inside you will find a museum full of artefacts from prehistoric to medieval times. There are fabulous views over the city and waterfront from the surrounding terraces. Find out about local marine history in the Technical Naval Museum. This small but interesting museum features a nice collection of model ships as well as impressive displays of big guns and cannons.
Explore the surrounding areas. Many people use La Spezia as a stopping off point for exploring the Cinque Terre. From here it is possible to get the local coastal train which connects all the villages along the Cinque Terre. Or for the more adventurous enjoy exploring the region by foot, taking the coastal footpath which connects all the villages. The walk can be done in approximately 6 hours, although many people like to take the trip over several days. For a more relaxed option, there are several charter companies that offer boat tours from La Spezia marina. This is an incredibly scenic and relaxing way to see this beautiful stretch of coastline.
Where to eat
For fine dining try the ever popular Osteria Della Corte. From their cosy interior they serve up delicious and inventive twists on classic favourite dishes. Impeccable service, and extensive and reasonably priced wine list, as well as delicious cocktails. Enjoy a table outside in their enchanting garden area.
For traditional fare head to Osteria all'Inferno dal 1905. Situated in a sprawling subterranean osteria, it specialises in local dishes of the La Spezia area. This long-time favourite has been serving hearty dishes such as codfish stew and wild board in its low-ceilinged cosy interior for over 100 years. Down by the port, try out the traditional favourite, La Cambusa. This lovely old-fashioned trattoria and wine bar serves fantastic value local fare alongside a good selection of local wines, all served at large communal tables in this lively little restaurant. Vegetarians will love Il Papeoto. This friendly osteria serves delicious and adventurous vegetarian dishes in a chic industrial setting. Book ahead to be sure of a table.
How to get there
The nearest airports are located at Pisa (64km) Genoa (86km) Bologna (124km) and Milan 154km). There are quick and convenient train connections to Pisa (38mins) Genoa (55mins) as well as Milan (2h 45min) as well as quick and reasonably priced connections to the Cinque Terre and surrounding tourist destinations.
If arriving by car there are several large car parks situated on the outskirts of town that offer a free shuttle into the centre.
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