La Spezia, the provincial capital, located in the innermost part of the Gulf of La Spezia, which opens onto the eastern coast of the Riviera di Levante. This town, once known only for its Military Arsenal, is an ideal starting point for visiting the Cinque Terre and the entire Gulf of Poets.
La Spezia is renowned for its museums, boasting unique pieces of Italian military and industrial history. Absolute Musts: the Lia Museum, the Sigillo Museum, the CAMeC Center of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Naval Technical Museum, the Museum of the Castle of San Giorgio, the Diocesan Museum, the Ethnographic Museum and the National Transport Museum. In Cavour's unitary design, the Gulf of La Spezia represented the ideal location for the naval base of the Italian Navy thus the architect Domenico Chiodo began the grandiose construction of the Military Arsenal and the Umbertino District. This caused a significant demographic increase: from 11,800 inhabitants in 1861 to 63,263 in the early 1900s. This way, a town "planned and restructured according to the Arsenal" was finally born. In 1872 they began to think of a merchant port settlement which gradually led to the inclusion of the town itself (thanks to the opening of the Parma - La Spezia connection) among the major ports in the country. Of great beauty are the town’s surroundings, many of them can be accessed both by land and by sea. From the Morin Promenade it’s possible to embark on the ferries connecting the town to the main tourist resorts of the Gulf. On March 19 of each year, the traditional fair of San Giuseppe is held in the streets of La Spezia. In July, every two years, there is the Premio del Golfo or "Gulf Prize" dedicated to contemporary painting: the works are exhibited to the public in a special exhibition space set up for the occasion in “Piazza Europa”. Institutions and collectors are offered the opportunity to purchase the exhibited works. On the first Sunday of August the renowned "Palio del Golfo" takes place, consisting of a parade of allegorical floats set up by the seaside villages through the streets, followed by a regatta on Ligurian goiters: 13 seaside villages are participating in the event, which is characterized by a strong parochialism. In the evening, a wonderful firework display over the sea closes the event.