La Spezia is the second most important city in the Ligurian Riviera,it lies at the center of the Gulf of the Poets so called because inspiring destination for educated writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The town has ancient origins, but experienced its industrial and demographic development since 1869 thanks to the construction of the Military naval base.
Today it is an important commercial port, a cruise port of call and popular tourist destination.
Varignano Fortress, a military building located at the end of the promontory that separates the bay Le Grazie from Portovenere. Since World War II houses the divers command of the Navy.
These circular floating nets are a fish farming facility, where breams and sea basses are bread with an annual production of about 300 tons.
This massive breakwater 2210 meters long it was built in the late nineteenth century and mainly performs the function of protecting the Port and the City softening the intensity of the waves .At the both sides of the breakwater we can see the mussel farms.
Torre Scola or Forte San Giovanni is a Military building built by the Republic of Genoa in 1606. It was part of the defensive system of it coastal protection. During the Napoleonic period it suffered severe damage as it was in the middle of naval clashes between the French and British fleets.
Lerici is located in the eastern extremity of the Gulf of the Poets, the village still retains its original medieval structure, with the caracteristic lined houses.
Above the seaside promenade we can see the castle built by the Pisans in the thirteenth century and later expanded by the Genoese.
In the Municipality of Lerici, we find the town of Santerenzo with the Castle and Villa Magni inhabited by the famous romantic english poets Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley.
Hidden behind Lerici Tellaro, which is one of the most pictoresque villages of Italy.
Portovenere, lies on the western extremity side of the Gulf. Since 1997 it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the neighboring islands Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto and the area of the Cinque Terre. The History of Portovenere is strongly tied to the sea. It was born a small fishing village, then became a Byzantine naval outpost and later one of the most fortified seaside villages of the Republic of Genoa.
PALAZZATA A MARE
One of the main features of the village is the Palazzata a Mare a row of coloured buildings which had the dual function of housing and defense in case of attacks. Above it stands the Church of San Lorenzo, also known as the Madonna Bianca sanctuary.
USCITA DALLA BOCCHE E CHIESA SAN PIETRO
The channel that divides Portovenere from Palmaria Island is called Le Bocche. To the right you can admire the Church of San Pietro built in Genoese gothic style, between the XI and XII century on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to the worship of the goddess Venus, hence the name of the village.
CASTELLO DORIA E GROTTA BYRON
At the top of the Arpaia promontory you can see the Doria Castle, one of the most impressive military fortresses of the Maritime Republic of Genoa. Next to it we can see the remains of two cylindrical towers that were used over the centuries both as windmills and watchtowers. Below then you can see the famous Grotta Byron dedicated to the English poet who loved spending time there during his moments of poetic inspiration.
Litoranea e Linea Ferroviaria
At the top you can see a road called Litoranea, built in the 1960 it connects La Spezia and Le Cinque Terre. Below it there is the railway line Roma-Ventimiglia completed in 1874.
Entrata Nel Parco e Punta Montenero
We are now entering the marine protected area of Cinque Terre park established in 1998 that extends between Punta Montenero and Punta Mesco. On the top of Punta Montenero you can see one of the 5 sanctuories dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
This stretch of coastline consists of outcropping layered red rocks their characteristic red color is due to the massive presence of fossilized ammonites and to the presence of iron.
The first group of houses that you can see amoung the vegetation is called Schiara, in dialect it means dawn, because it is one of the first places to be illuminated by the rising sun.
In front of Schiara you can see a pyramid shaped sandstone rock emerging from the sea on its top a white marble cross was built in 1888 in memory of Luigi Garavoglia, a cartographer who lost his life there.
This group of grey houses built on the montain crest. This is the village of Monesteroli . The only way to reach the village is to walk down a sleep flight steps without handrail. Its houses are used almost exclusively during the summer or the harves period.
Riomaggiore is situated in the narrow valley carved by the river Rivus Major that flows through the village, hence the derivation of its name.
The houses, painted with typical Ligurian pastel colors, follow the scheme of the tower houses, built on three or four floors.
Riomaggiore and Manarola are connected by the Lovers’ lane, which is the first stretch of the blue path, a beautiful romantic walk overlooking the sea. The street stretches for about a kilometer and you can walk in less than half an hour. This road has been traveled by thousands of lovers, painted by a crowd of painters and described by countless poets. Today closed due a landslide.
Manarola has ancient origins. The village is very pictoresque with its towers houses built on a steep promontory of dark rock with the port enclosed between it and the spur where the cemetery is located.
Corniglia is a charming hamlet of Roman origin. Due to its elevated position 100m above sea level, it is the only village without a real port. Hence it is not a seafares village but an agricultural centre. The best moment to shoot a picture of Corniglia is when you see the facade of St Peter’s church at the centre of the village.
STAZIONE DI CORNIGLIA E LARDARINA
The yellow house over there is Corniglia train station which is connected to the village with the Lardarina, a long brick staircase with around 377 steps and 33 ramps. Climbing this stairs in summer, suspended between the sea and the village is a rare experience.
The village of San Bernardino lies At an altitude of about 385 m above sea level it is located along the so called road of sanctuaries.
Vernazza was founded around the year one thousand, it was a commercial and military port for this reason it was the most prosperous village. It features sophisticated architectural elements as lodges, arcades and portals. The noble and elegant village, spreads along the creek Vernazzola, today covered.
Monterosso is the largest center of the Cinque Terre, where you can find beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs and crystal clear waters. The Aurora tower, on St Christopher hill separates the ancient village from the modern and residential side.
Punta Mesco is the western limit of the Gulf of Cinque Terre.
Levanto is a town called the door of the Cinque Terre, It is an agricultural village, a commercial and maritime municipality and from 800 tourist center. To the north is the wide valley with many of vineyards and olive groves. Its bay has a beach among the largest in the area, today loved by many surfers.
3 ISLANDS TOUR
This is the 3 Island tour where we will discover Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto Islands in around 40 minutes.
The 3 island together with Portovenere and the 5 Terre are a UNESCO Heritage Site.
In Front of you you can see the Palmaria Island, The biggest of the archipelago, a natural paradise.
The island was a military outpost since the XIX century and still today you can see at the top Fort Cavour and around the island other two military buildings: Batteria del Semaforo and Batteria Umberto I.
The Gulf of the Poets so called becaue inspiring destination for educated writers of the late XIX century and early XX century.
At the very end of the Gulf you can see The town of La Spezia with its military naval base and its commercial and tourist port.
At the eastern side of the Gulf lies the village of Lerici with its imposing medioeval castle.
This Tower emerging from the sea. It is called Torre Scola or Forte San Giovanni a military building built by Republic of Genoa in 1606.
It was port of a defensive systeme of coastal protection. During the Napoleonic period it suffered severe damage as it was in the middle of naval clashes between the French and British fleets.
We are now sailing in front of the Pozzale Bay. Its beach is visited by many tourists and locals each summer and offer a peaceful and natural enviroment.
At the end of the beach you can see the marble quarries that were closed. In the past a precious variety of marble was quarried here 40 years ago, the famous Portoro a black marble with golden veins.
You can now see the 2nd island of the archipelago called Tino. It is property of the italian navy and it is open to the public only on the 13th of september for the celebration of San Venerio.
At the top of the island you can also see a lighthouse.
Here you can see San Venerio Abbey built by the benedectine monks after the death of Saint in the VII century. S. Venerio was a heremit on the island and used to light a fire on the top it to guide the ships intransit. For this reason in 1961 he become saint patron and protector of the lighthouse keepers. You can now see the two lighthouse of the island: The red one is the oldest, today abandoned; The white one built on the rest of a genoese tower is today in use.
And her we are now passing by the 3rd Island know as Tinetto where you can spot the rests of an ancient religious building.
Emerging from the sea you can see a marble statue of the Virgin Mary called Stella Maris which is considered the protector of fishermen and sailors. The statue also signals the presence of a dangerous underwater rock called Devil’s Rock.
We are now sailing back toward the Palmaria Island and we are going to discover its caves.
The first one is the cave of the quony which was artificially enlarged for the extraction of marble. If you look above you can see a hole in the rocky wall this is a prehistoric cave known as Grotta dei Colombi where human rests from neolithic and paleolithic era were found.
At the top of the island there is also an important radio and weather station managed by the Italian navy.
We are now entering in a bay known as Cala Grande to the right you can see the Grotta Vulcanica with its natural water spring. To the left there is a stone ramp called Via Di Lizza.
It was used to transport huge marble blocks from the island to particular ships called Leudi or Minoli.
Now we can see a very small cave, the Grotta del Pitone a rock sticks out from the eiling it is called Dente del Pitone.
We are now heanding toward the Grotta Azzurra but we cannot stop by due to the risk of rock falling, the special characteristic of this cave is the external wall which is suspended above the sea. When the sunsets the rays hit the water surface and reflect the light coloring the cave walls with hight blue hues.
We are now saling back to Portovenere and we across the channel that divides the island from the village called Le Bocche. You can admire the Church of San Pietro built in Genoese gothic style, between the XI and XII century on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to the worship of the goddess Venus, hence the name of the village.
At the top of the Arpaia promontory you can see the Doria Castle, one of the most impressive military fortresses of the Maritime Republic of Genoa. Next to it we can see the remains of two cylindrical towers that were used over the centuries both as windmills and watchtowers.
Below then you can see the famous Grotta Byron dedicated to the English poet who loved spending time there during his moments of poetic inspiration.