Location: Province of La Spezia, Italy
Length: 93.4 km
Wide: minimum 5 m, standard
Surface quality (out of 5): 4 – 5
Operating times: throughout the year
Strada Provinciale 51 (SP 51), Strada Provinciale delle Cinque Terre (SP 370), Strada Provinciale 32 (SP 32), Viale Italia (SP 331), Via Nicolò Fieschi (SP 530), Via Ameglia (SP 432), Strada Provinciale 28 (SP 28), Viale 25 Aprile
Route: Manarola – Riomaggiore – La Spezia – Portovenere – Lerici – Ameglia – Montemarcello – Luni Mare – Sarzana
The Gulf of La Spezia, also called the Gulf of Poets, is a very wide and deep bay located in the southern tip of the Liguria region in Italy. Part of the northern Tyrrhenian Sea, it was named after the city of La Spezia which is situated at its middle point.
The amazing Gulf of La Spezia is a mix of nature’s beauty and strategic planning that produced one of the most unique areas in Italy. Its idyllic landscapes, sandy beaches, jutting cliffs and breathtaking scenery have attracted writers and artists for a long time. The Gulf of Poets stirs up excitement as well as the imagination and it has been the home of some of the most celebrated poets: Lord Byron, David Herbert Lawrence, George Sand and Dickens, to name only a few.
Especially relevant, La Spezia is home to Italy’s largest naval base. La Spezia Naval Base lies close to the historic centre of the city and, due to its strategic importance, it was heavily bombed and almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. However, it was quickly rebuilt in the postwar period.
In order to discover the enchanting Gulf atmosphere, its sun drenched beaches and eye-catching villages, the recommended route starts from Manarola, the oldest of the towns of the famous Cinque Terre. The drive is 93.4 km long and ends in Sarzana, a small town with a long and complex history, very rich in monuments including an amazing gothic cathedral dating back to the 13th century.
From Manarola, follow the Strada Provinciale delle Cinque Terre (SP 370) until you reach Riomaggiore, the easternmost village of the Cinque Terre. Dating from the early thirteenth century, Riomaggiore is a lovely village with colorful houses built on steep slopes, well known for its historic character and wine, produced by the town’s vineyards.
Leaving Riomaggiore behind, return once again on the SP 370 and drive towards La Spezia. From here, the road heads south to Portovenere. Considered one of the most charming spots on the Ligurian coast, this ancient fortified town with its tall houses perched over the blue sea is definitely worth a visit.
The panoramic drive continues, amidst olive groves, Mediterranean maquis and pine woods, until Montemarcello. Sitting on top of the Caprione promontory at a height of 266 m over the sea, this old village offers extraordinary views over the Gulf of La Spezia, the Apuane Alps and the entire coastline stretching from Massa-Carrara to Versilia.
From Montemarcello the route heads East over the river Magra, towards the small town of Luni. Here you will find the remains of an elliptical Roman amphitheatre from the 1st century AD and an Archeological Museum.
Finally, from Luni follow the road called Viale 25 Aprile and you will reach Sarzana, the end point of this fascinating journey.