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Beautiful landscapes and interconnecting trails and pathways around the city of La Spezia

Tuesday, 26 April 2022 08:00

In Liguria we have truly beautiful landscapes and they are easily accessible to be enjoyed by young and old. La Spezia and its gulf are situated in a central position with respect to several long-distance trails such as the Via Francigena, the Liguria Trail and the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre, Alta Via dei Monti Liguri and Alta Via del Golfo trails. 

All these routes interconnect and the Alta Via del Golfo, a ridge trail that runs through the hills around the city, makes for easy access to the city of La Spezia. The Alta Via del Golfo and the paths around La Spezia, the so-called arrows, formed the basis for creating these ring routes. This well-developed and much used network of paths around the city, especially on the western side towards Porto Venere and the Cinque Terre, also makes it possible to reach the Cinque Terre, the Lunigiana area and the Val di Vara valley. 

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Pathways to be enjoyed on foot or by public transport

Our network of pathways can be reached directly from the city on foot and also by public (boats and buses) or private transport. For example, following the route from Chiappa to Salto del Gatto, you come to the parish Church of Marinasco after crossing a wood of holm oaks and passing the small 16th century Church of Santa Lucia. From the large square in Marinasco you can continue to the Foce Pass, poised between the sea of the gulf and the woods of the Val di Vara valley. From here, taking the road that leads to Parodi, you come to Sant'Anna, skirting the Toracche, an interesting medieval fortified nucleus, and once again Maggiano on the hills leading to La Spezia.

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Trails to the Cinque Terre

On the eastern side, starting from the Romanesque parish church of San Venerio, you can ascend the Via della Lobbia, bypassing the large Passano Villa, coming first to Carozzo and from there to the village of San Venerio. Among the various possibilities offered by these paths in the hills you can also cross towards the sea of the Cinque Terre (a part of the Cinque Terre National Park is in the area of Tramonti and included in the Municipality of La Spezia) following the route that from the ancient village of Biassa descends to Fossola, where there is a tiny church dedicated to the Guardian Angel. From here, over the seemingly endless sea, keeping at a higher altitude than Monesteroli and then Schiara, it is possible to reach Campiglia and the Church of Santa Caterina.

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A country walk around the city

The Parco delle Mura in La Spezia, which is a beautiful city walk in the countryside with panoramic views over the Gulf of Poets, begins in Piazzale Papa Giovanni XXIII behind the cathedral of Cristo Re. The first part is a beautiful flight of steps in the verdant Colle della Ferrara area which once housed the Convent of the Capuchin Friars and the villa of Marquis Oldoini. A large part of the hill was flattened in the 1920s and 1930s to unite the historic centre with the Migliarina plain, thus allowing the expansion of the city and the construction of new buildings along Via Veneto. Climbing up we come to the initial part of the walls, and at the first rest area there is a fountain. 

The city had air-raid warning sirens

Leaving the first viewing area and walking along a wide dirt road you meet Path 224, which climbs from Via dei Colli, another access road to the Parco delle Mura. On your way you can see the various parts of the walls with the old caponiere which were lookout points that made it possible to have a flush crossfire and thus control each side of the walls. Unlike the walls in the castles, these had no patrol walkways and a maximum height of six to seven metres. Although we are not far from the city centre this is a lovely green area that leads us to the second stage of the urban Sirens’ Route. During the First World War La Spezia had air-raid warning systems and between 1934 and 1940 they installed 22 sirens connected by a system of cables. They could be heard in every part of the area, and 16 of them were manually operated. This communications network was used to alert the population, the danger signal being six blasts of 15 seconds with pauses of the same duration, thus alerting residents that they should go to the underground shelters. 

Tables, benches and games for children

This part of the urban walk along the walls offers a view of the Valdellora district below as well as the harbour area, the Apuan Alps and the Apennines. Halfway along the Parco delle Mura della Spezia, near Porta Isolabella, there is a large rest area with tables, benches and games for children. In this clearing you can see the limestone walls which had embrasures for sighting and defending against an attack by land thanks to the presence of cannons, machine guns and batteries. However, this defensive system soon became obsolete as it was not suitable for countering attacks from the air. From here, continue along the walls until you reach another opening that provides access to private dwellings. Climb up along the mule track, a narrower and steeper section, until you come to Path 225, which comes from the Valdellora district. 

Delightful urban walking routes 

Here the walk continues along a dirt track cand you come to the vicinity of the village of Sarbia, at an altitude of 168 metres, where the actual area of the Parco delle Mura ends. From the beginning of the urban promenade to here it is approximately 2.3 kilometres, which can be covered in 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. In Sarbia there are several paths that you can use to return to the city, such as Path 226 that leads to the Chiappa district. However, the quickest way is to take the same route back or continue the walk along the ancient walls down the steps and onto the trail to Porta Castellazzo. At this point, the walls were cut in 1906 to make way for the road to Sarbia. Once past the old gate, descend to the right onto Via dei Colli. At the first bend, continue along the steep road that follows the ancient defensive walls and comes to Piazzale Ferro. From Sarbia to here it takes 20 minutes to cover the distance of 1.33 kilometres.

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