Over the last few years, the city centre has been undergoing a sort of cultural renaissance. After shaking off the “grey city” reputation, La Spezia is now a more alive and vital: venues remain open until late at night, there are local but also exotic cuisine restaurants, a new tourist harbour and cruise terminal, many business activities, museums and arts centres, a dense theatre season, arthouse cinema and multiplex, university campus, as well as artistic and architectonic heritage points of interest. All these things have made La Spezia the 2019 Ligurian queen of tourism according to data from the regional touristic observatory.
Historic centre highlights include Cristo Re cathedral, based on a circular plan, the church of Santa Maria Assunta which houses a work by Andrea della Robbia, Piazza Verdi – recently reported in the news due to the involvement of french architect Daniel Buren – Palazzo delle Poste adorned with futuristic mosaics, Corso Cavour and Via del Prione, Lia museum custodian of both Italian and foreign paintings and miniatures dating back from the 13th to 18th century, CAMeC (Modern and Contemporary Arts Centre), Naval Technical museum and San Giorgio Castle on the hills, the Thaon of Revel bridge which connects the city to Porto Mirabello, public gardens along with the seaside promenade and many other sites.
Its geographic position is what makes La Spezia a tourism-oriented city. La spezia, nerve centre of Golfo dei Poeti – a place that was chosen by authors and musicians such as Percy and Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Eugenio Montale and Wagner – is in fact the starting point for visiting Parco Nazionale of Cinque Terre, Portovenere, and Palmaria island (UNESCO Heritage) and Lerici. Moreover, Sestri Levante, Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino and Genova and also, going east, Carrara and Versilia with its popular towns, from Forte dei Marmi to Pietrasanta and Viareggio, up to Lucca, Pisa and Florence.