La Spezia sits at the south-eastern tip of Liguria, in a region famous for its stunning coastal scenery. Byron, Shelley, Dante, DH Lawrence, George Sand and others were drawn to the area by its beauty and consequently the Gulf of La Spezia is also known as the Gulf of Poets. To the west of La Spezia lies the spectacular Cinque Terre, a Unesco World Heritage Site; to the south-east the rocky coastline gives way to wide, sandy beaches; while inland are the Apuane Alps and their castle-studded foothills.
Local places of interest
Lerici: 10 km from La Spezia at the southernmost tip of the Italian Riveria, Lerici is a popular and exclusive holiday spot. Take a leisurely stroll along the sea-front or a more energetic climb to the 12th Century castle which offers outstanding views (and a dinosaur museum). Buses run from La Spezia to Lerici. If you are travelling by car, use the large car-park between San Terenzo and Lerici as the town centre is a zona traffico limitato (restricted traffic area).
Tellaro: is a fishing hamlet 4 km south of Lerici, with a charming, tiny harbour, pastel-painted houses and narrow lanes. Reach it by car or by bus from Lerici.
Parco di Montemarcello-Magra: occupies the promontory between the Gulf of La Spezia and the mouth of the River Magra. By car, you can take a scenic drive from Lerici to Montemarcello (take the road towards La Serra from the Bellavista filling station, above Lerici) and enjoy stunning views of the Gulf of La Spezia, the Viareggio coast, the Apuane Alps and the marble quarries of Carrara. www.parcomagra.it
The Cinque Terre: the five villages of the Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola) are recognised as some of Italy’s most extraordinary countryside. This dramatic coast, characterised by its small fishing villages, terraced vineyards and olive groves is well worth a visit and can be reached by boat from Lerici or La Spezia or train from La Spezia. www.cinqueterre.it
Portovenere: is a beautiful and historic, fortified village 12 km south of La Spezia. It can be reached by boat from Lerici and bus from La Spezia. Once there, you can take a boat trip round the tiny islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. www.portovenere.it
Sarzana: is an attractive walled town 15 km east of La Spezia in the Magra valley. Take a look at the 15th Century Cittadella or the cathedral where you can see the world’s oldest crucifix, painted on wood. Thursday is market day. Reach it by train or bus from La Spezia or bus from Lerici. www.comune.sarzana.orgSlightly further away, but within an hour or so drive are: Pisa with its Campo dei Miracoli of leaning tower, cathedral and baptistry; Genoa, birthplace of Christopher Columbus; and Lucca, a medieval walled town.