La Spezia is a city situated on the Ligurian coast, between Genova and Pisa, very close to Cinque Terre national park.
It is not famous at all and it is usually seen in transit or as a base accommodation for visiting Cinque Terre.
I can’t say La Spezia is this wonderful city where you have to spend your entire holiday but I will tell you why it is my opinion that it deserves a half or even better a full day from your vacation time.
Yes, of course, La Spezia is perfect to be used as a base while visiting Cinque Terre but let’s try to see beyond this:
1. La Spezia has a great port area
The touristic and military ports hold almost the entire seaside area, probably that’s why you will not find a beach here.
A futuristic bridge, called Ponte Thaon di Revel, stretches from the Public Gardens and Porto Mirabello, a perfect place for an evening walk and for watching the sunset.
The bridge is supported by many white cables having the central section higher in order to allow large boats to enter the harbour. Here you can take the best images with the sea and the boat parking.
I personally loved this area so I took a walk here almost every evening. This evening walk ended up being the most relaxing part of my day.
2. You have a little bit of a nightlife
In contrast to the five villages La Spezia is a city, and not a very small one. This means that while in Cinque Terre there is nothing going on in the evening with all the visitors being gone, La Spezia is more lively and for sure you will find some things to do. So if you are the kind of person that enjoys spending your evening outside, La Spezia is for you because it will give you something to do even later in the night.
3. The city has some beautiful buildings like:
– Basilica of Santa Maria Asunta, one of the most important churches in La Spezia, having a green and white striped marble design as many other churches in the city.
– San Giorgio Castle, the main objective in La Spezia which has stood for hundreds of years. The castle was constructed in the 13th century and was originally part of the cities defensive fortification network.
– Chiesa di Nostra Signora della Neve (the Church of our Lady of the Snow), a little bit similar to the cathedral of Florence and having the same theme of green and white striped exteriors.
4. La Spezia has a beautiful waterfront promenade
It is bordered by tall palm trees situated somewhere between the Historical Centre and the port. This is a perfect place for taking a walk watching the sea and the variety of boats moored in the harbor.
5. Giardini Pubblici Park (Public Gardens), situated at the waterfront is another great place for a walk
I found this park by mistake (because yes, like many of you, I only intended to use La Spezia as a base for visiting Cinque Terre so I didn’t do too much research on the city) and I ended up taking photos of every tree blooming with flowers. The gardens cover a wide area and feature many walkways lined with trees.
6. If you like to visit local markets this is definitely your place
Piazza del Mercato is not the greatest or biggest market but you will find something different here: authenticity. It is not your typical touristic market but one where the locals are doing their daily shopping. That’s why visiting the market is a nice thing. You will find the market open for visitors every morning except Sunday.
7. You can find plenty of option to eat, a lot of ice cream and souvenirs chipper than in Cinque Terre
8. La Spezia gives you the possibility of a small incursion into Tuscany
If you are staying more in the area and you have finished visiting Cinque Terre or you just want to see something more, you can take a small tour in another beautiful Italian area, Tuscany. A train trip of an hour and a half (if you do not have a rented car) will bring you directly to Pisa. That’s what I also did when I was there.
9. From La Spezia you can easily visit Portovenere
While from the villages it is a little bit difficult to reach Portovenere, from La Spezia there is a direct boat or bus ride to Portovenere.
10. The city center has the well-known Italian charm, it is a clean and not crowded city and if you decide to spend a few hours walking here, you will not be disappointed
I personally liked La Spezia more than Pisa even if it is not blessed with the famous tower. I loved the evening walks around the port area and the restaurants in the center.
I would have probably not even visited La Spezia if I wouldn’t have chosen the accommodation here. But now, after being there and having the time to walk around and discover it better, I can really encourage you to visit it if you have some free time left.