La Spezia – Near but not in Cinque Terre

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Here is the next in my “near but not in Cinque Terre” series, which is a look at several towns in the same area as the famous Cinque Terre, but are likely overlooked. The city of La Spezia is certainly the largest in this end of Liguria and an ideal home base for exploring the area.

La Spezia Centrale

La Spezia is a coastal town at the Eastern end of the Cinque Terre park. It is only a few minutes by train from Riomaggiore. So even if all you want to see is the famous five lands, La Spezia should still be in your sights. Simple access to the Cinque Terre park as well as under two hours to Pisa and only a bus ride to Portovenere, makes it quite central.

Commercial Center

The city has a commercial harbor and a naval yard as well as a castle, so while not really a tourist destination, there are some things to see.

Not one of the Commercial Boats

Place to Stay

Being not a tourist place makes it more affordable to stay and eat in as well as offers a much busier train station for exploring in both directions. This is the town that my parents and I stayed for our week in Liguria. While I still want to see Genoa, I am glad we stayed here.  There are plenty of places to eat if you are on the Italian schedule, but even for us early eaters we found a place that served food starting at 6pm.

Via Roma - all roads lead to Rome

Museums and Castle

Stairs up the hill to the Castle

The history of the area goes back a long way. We are talking 2000 years long. The castle had a museum holding artifacts from places only an hour away over the hills. I’m not so much into museums, but they had sheets in all different languages to read and the castle had some grand views of the city and the valley. The harbor is obviously protected by the hills, so I understand why the early man decided to come settle this area. There are some nice gelato dealers in town, which must have helped too.

View up the Valley (Toward Cinque Terre)

The valley is a neat place. The days we were there the clouds hung to the mountains and created some spooky effects. Being April, it rained a few times too. Even rain in Italy is romantic. During this downpour we ran from doorway to doorway looking for a cafe to sit and dry off in. At the some point a bunch of guys selling umbrellas were running around looking for customers.

Rain Storm

Italian Architecture

The city is an Italian City through and through. The Italianate Architecture is all over town. You see it in the old part of town as well as the more modern quarter filled with fashion stores. I really enjoyed walking around in the evening here.

Portici (multiple portico)


Via Antonia Gramisci - Such wonderful names.

So if you are looking to explore Liguria, I heartily recommend staying in la Spezia. Mix with the locals more in this hub town rather than be a part of the tourist crush in the Cinque Terre.

12 thoughts on “La Spezia – Near but not in Cinque Terre

  1. Pingback: Exploring Cinque Terre - Travel Made Simple

    • La Spezia was a great transport hub for the region. The city is ok, but not really spectacular compared to what is in the surrounding region.

      Check out the rest of the series for more stuff nearby. How long are you in the area?

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  5. Those umbrella men come out of the woodwork swapping tissues for umbrellas before it starts raining! I think they secretly control the weather…. 😉

    Great post on La Spezia, I haven’t been but I have a work mate from there and I agree I think these little towns get overlooked in the rush for Cinque Terre, great series!

    • They were all huddled near the market and tons up near the train station all week. Just as it rained they started running through the streets.

    • La Spezia is odd in that respect because it is direct smack in the middle of the beaten track, just not beaten by tourists. It is a cross road of major train lines and highways on the coast and a major port in the area. It is just that most tourists head to the CT.

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