La SpeziaGracefully charming
2 It is a well known fact that to know a city inside out, a stroll on foot brings the most satisfaction. Our hurried lifestyle nowadays, can always have an improved quality by giving ourselves time to walk around a place, purely to enjoy the visual pleasures.
This goes for La Spezia too, it should be discovered wi-thout haste leaving from the jetty where the ferries are moored, called Molo Italia. Go through the exo-tic Public Gardens which are the pride of the city for their careful upkeep and ourishing ora. Then along Viale Diaz to the crossroad with Via Chiodo with its airy shaded arcades. Straight across is Via Prione, a lively pedestrian street in the heart of the old town. The Civico Theatre designed by Franco Oliva comes up on your left symbolising the elegant thirties. A little way on where the street narrows, below the length of wall that dates back to the beginning of the seven-teenth century, what was once one of the entrances to La Spezia can be seen. This was in fact the entrance from the Naval Base to the walled city.
1 Via del Prione2 Garden along Promenade3 Fish Market & Food Market
3Here we are in the heart of the town that is now a pe-destrian way, and where traces of La Spezia in medie-val renaissance and baroque times can be glimpsed and not to be missed on your way are the splendid solid Genoese doorways of the Doria Pamphili and Massa buildings. Carved stone decorates the houses all along Via del Prione and the surrounding side stre-ets. A stop to admire the nearby Piazza S. Agostino gives a real feeling of La Spezia nowadays. Looking towards the sea, the buildings continue, these were originally built as rows of towers like soldiers defen-ding the city and gave homes for the nobility in the baroque period. Towards the hillside there are po-stwar buildings that were erected around the 15th century convent of SantAgostino.
4 Promenade Morin5 Viale Mazzini6 Garden from hilltop
7 Piazza SantAgostino8 Arcade of via Cadorna
4 The San Giorgio Castle
Back in Via del Prione and further along, there is Dio-cesan Museum, in the de-consacrated oratory of San Bernardino. In past times, travellers left the city from the Porta of San Bernardino or entered from the direc-tion of Genoa, the Ligurian capital, having crossed the Foce pass. Beyond this point lay an area that was not open contryside but being rich in water sources, was agriculturally active. During
9 San George Castle10 Steps
11 Saint Mary of the Assumption Church12 Vincentian Convent today Amedeo Lia Civic Museum
5the 17th and 18th centuries windmills were active all around the large convent of the brotherhood of San Francesco da Paola. This is the place where the fascina-ting museum Amedeo Lia has recently been founded.But certainly the building that has the most standing in the historical urban plan is the San Giorgio Castle. In past times it was of major importance in the Geno-ese defence system, and is now home to the municipal archeological collection. The fort rests on a rise in the hillside, and can be reached by climbing the steps from Via del Prione, or by road along the hillside on Via XXVII Marzo. The castle was built and modi ed between the 14th and 17th centuries and is an interesting if complex example of forti ed architecture. Little of the original fort still exsi-stis, this was built in two parts connected to one another. Parts of the original walls are still standing and stretch of the city wall which goes down to Piazza SantAgostino. The modi cation at the beginning of the 17th century has given the castle the appearence it has today. It now serves the city as a venue for a variety of cultural activities.
13 Entrance to Saint George Castle and walls14 Seventeenth-century wall
15 Saint George and the Genoese Coat of Arms (Castle Entrance)16 Sea View of Saint George Castle
6 Coming back down via the San Giorgio and Quintino Sella steps, were in La Spe-zia again, to discover some history over the last two centuries. The growth of the city arose from the days of the power seeking Savo-ia family. This city with its classical architecture, wide avenues and arcades mixes with its historical old town centre, and later comes up with elegant modern day architecture.
17 Monument in honor of Garibaldi18 Seventeenth-century gardens
19 Malta Cross Palace20 Music Band-stand21 Arcade of Via Chiodo
7The main entrance to the naval dockyard, opens onto Piazza Chiodo. A visit here is well worthwhile to see the Industrial Museum which was the pride and joy of modernism in the last century and is still a centre of activity nowadays.There are two aspects to nineteenth century Spezia, the technological side connected to the military development in the Gulf, and the residential facet that has given rise to the development of parks and public places. The Public Gardens that lie between the via Chiodo arcades and the palmlined seafront, are symbolic of the aesthetic growth of La Spezia. The botanical gardens were rst designed in 1825 and are today well used by the citizenship. The citys touches of li-berty style can be seen in the Gardens mostly around via Chiodo, and in particular, the splendid bandstand that was erected in 1866.
22 Panoramic view of city
8 At the beginning of the 20th century and for ten years after, many elegant buildings appeared, both residential and public. The-se remain today as the most impressive urban aspect of La Spezia. Whilst walking around Piazza Verdi and then via XX Set-tembre and via XXVII Marzo, one should look up, not to miss a glimpse of decorative additions to the buildings. Painting, sculp-ture and bas relief abound as soft female forms, contorted animal shapes, and stur-dy male gures, all silent immobile mem-bers of the population.The city has passed through various mo-ments of development that can be seen in
23 Piazza Verdi & Post Of ce Building24 Piazza Brin, Mirko Basaldella Fountain
25 Municipality Building26 Piazza Europa & Cristo Re Cathedral
9so many architectural styles from Liberty to Futurism, from deco to plain ratio-nalism up to post war times when straight lines and formality in design where the rule. The Law Courts to the East of the city designed by Ignazio Gardella are a solid example of the latter style, and in front of this building, almost in contrast, a sculpture by Klein depicts mans uncertainty.Museums certainly house most of the citys archaeological and artistic history, but one can always be fascinated by artistic features on public buildings and chur-ches. Just such an example can be seen in the glazed terracotta by Andrea della Robbia in Santa Maria Assunta in Piazza Beverini. In Villa Marmori now the Giaco-mo Puccini Music Academy in via XX Settembre, the rooms are ooded with light that lters through brightly coloured stained glass. In the Public Gardens near the Town Hall building, stands the impressive Winged Victory statue by A. del San-to. And not far away in piazza Verdi, the mosaics by Fillia and Prampolini decorate the wall of the Post Of ce tower, showing dynamic futuristic themes that depict a world racing against time in a technological age.
27 Government Palace of Franco Oliva28 Details of Government Palace
29 Details of Villa Ceretti - Marmori30 Details of Palace Fumagalli - Federici
The Amedeo Lia museum gained its name from its benefactor. In this 17th century Convento dei Paolotti, as well as a well furnished art collection, there are collections of jewellery, ivory, minia-tures, glass and sculptures.The paintings are displayed in chrono-logical order from 13th century Florence to excellent examples of 18th century views of Rome and Venice.And then, the ancient castle houses a museum that goes further back in time to preistoric and primitive eras.In the San Giorgio Castle, the museum adaptly houses the prehistoric and pri-
31 Coronation of the Vergin Andrea della Robbia32 Mosaic - Enrico Prampolini - Luigi Fillia33 Details of window - Villa Ceretti - Marmori
34 A. Del Santo, Vittoria Alata 35/36 Saint George Castle - Archaeological Museum ( ndings from Luni)
mitive collection downstairs, and upstairs, the Roman collection. There are shi-ning examples from the site in Luni and nds from medieval times. Through the castle, the Stele Statues (carved stones that go back to 4000 B.C.) stand on guard, reminding us of distant times. Then back the Ethnographic Museum, composed at the end of the 19th century by Giovanni Podenzana, where the main focus is on countrylife.At the Palazzina delle Arti, art exibitions change throughout the year, and there is also a curious museum of seals (Museo del Sigillo) within the same building that boasts the largest collection of its kind. Onto the Technical Naval Museum where an impressive collection of gureheads can be admired as well as glorious reminders of naval history, and model ships that give us a clear picture of the development of navigation. Other interesting collections, estabilished thanks to private donations to the city of La Spezia can be viewed at the Diocesan Museum, The National Transport Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (Museo dArte Contemporanea) which is still at the planning stage.
37 Figureheads - Naval Museum 38 Reliquary - Amedio Lia Museum 39 Annunciation - Amedeo Lia Museum
40 Art Building - Seal Museum41 Ethnographic Museum - G. Podenzana42 Contemporary Art Museum - CAMec