Located between Genoa and Livorno, La Spezia is one of Italy's major ports on the Ligurian Sea and is the home of the Italian Navy’s arsenal.
Although the area, now known as Lunigiana, was settled in ancient times, most of the action was centered around the town of Luna, settled by the Romans in 177 BC with at the mouth of the Magra River. It began to lose its power around 500 AD and by 1050 AD, when the port silted over, it was abandoned.
By this time, many towns had sprung up along the coast between Genoa and Livorno including Lucca and Pisa to the south and La Spezia to the west. By the 1200s, it was linked with Genoa until the fall of the Genoa Republic in the 1700s. La Spezia experienced extraordinary development after 1861 when during the Italian unification the House of Savoy commissioned the great naval arsenal there.
During WWII, the Italian navy managed to sail from La Spezia before the Germans could arrive and capture them. After the war, La Spezia became the major port of departure for the survivors from the Nazi concentration camps clandestinely making their way to what was at that time called Mandate Palestine.
The town of La Spezia is not a major tourist destination and therefore retains much of its local charm. The good news is that a stroll down its charming pedestrian streets, past cafes and through local markets will give you a true taste of Italy. The bad news is that you do not need a whole day to do it.
La Spezia is the gateway to many Italian must-see locations. The closest is the stunning five lands of the Cinque Terre, small Italian villages that cling defiantly to the rugged coast. The five towns can be reached by train, boat or hiking path. Pisa, and its vertically challenged tower is approximately 40 miles to the south. One hour and 40 minutes to the east is Michelangelo's Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Shore Excursioneer has unique and selected Cruise Excursions in La Spezia to help you see and sample all of the highlights!