The Gulf of Spezia is the ideal place for a holiday dedicated to relaxation and culture. Beloved by poets and artists, it is a land of great value. That’s why I am telling you about the Gulf of Poets in this article!
The Gulf of Spezia is an Italian gem. It is the stretch of coastline on the Ligurian Riviera, which extends from the beautiful village of Portovenere to Lerici, close to the Tuscan border. It is also where you can find the famous city of La Spezia.
This enchanting land is a true oasis! That’s why it is a popular destination for tourists from Italy and around the world. With its enviable beaches, one of the most beautiful seas in the world and a lot of history linked to its picturesque villages and castles, the Gulf of Spezia is a must-see for everyone.
I’ll let you in on another secret: although known as the Gulf of Poets or Bay of Poets, its original name is the Gulf of La Spezia, derived from the name of the famous city located here. In fact, this imaginative name comes from its past as a meeting place for the brightest minds, poets and artists from all over Europe, fascinated by the incredible beauty of the views this place has to offer.
Quoting the words of the famous Napoleon Bonaparte: “The most beautiful Gulf in the Universe”, I can assure you that this land has stolen the hearts of many Italian poets and writers, including Petrarch and Montale, but also foreigners such as David Helbert Lawrence, Lord Byron, Shelley and Virginia Wolf. If they fell in love with the Gulf of Poets, I see no reason why you shouldn’t!
Come with me on this journey and I’ll tell you about the beauty of this land, the events held every year and how to make the most of this incredible Italian gem! 👇
Activities and places to discover in the Gulf of Spezia!
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If you have come this far, I suggest you keep reading because now comes the best part!
The Gulf of Poets offers a wide choice of activities to do and unique beauties to explore. They are perfect both for those interested in unspoilt nature with magnificent beaches and regional parks where you can enjoy a picnic, but also for those who are intrigued by local sporting events, or those who want to go and have fun at festivals and make food a priority.
Among breathtaking views and jaw-dropping sunsets, you can venture into the unspoilt nature of the Spiaggioni, which can be reached by canoe. You can also enter the Montemarcello-Magra-Vara Regional Park, or go on a boat trip to discover the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, the natural heritage of this area.
For the most passionate and sporty people, I absolutely recommend watching the “Palio del Golfo”, a sea race between the teams of the different villages. And, if you are in good shape, you can take part in the Byron Cup, a crossing of about 8 km in the wonderful sea of the gulf.
Amongst the endless possibilities for trekking, hiking and canoeing, don’t miss the chance to take part in the local festivals, such as the fish and mushroom festivals.
But now I am going to reveal to you the most enchanting and romantic places that make the Gulf of Spezia an extraordinary beauty. That’s why I suggest you read on! 😍
This beautiful village stands on a small promontory overlooking the Gulf of Poets. Once you enter, you find yourself in a world full of colours that brings joy and light-heartedness to the eye.
Recently named one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Tellaro was originally a defensive outpost for the nearby town of Barbazzano. Destroyed later by wars and the plague, the latter caused Tellaro to be populated, giving rise to the picturesque village it is today.
Carried away by this incredible history, strolling through its narrow streets you can admire the best views from the Piazza della Marina and the imposing church of San Giorgio, which overlooks the sea.
If you want to be completely captivated by this village, you can’t miss the Underwater Christmas on 24 December, an event in which a group of divers transport the statue of the Baby Jesus to the shore, in an atmosphere accompanied by fireworks.
Lerici is the right choice for a romantic short break in the heart of the Bay of Poets. This pretty village lies at the southern end of the gulf of La Spezia and is dominated from above by an ancient castle, which offers unforgettable views.
Strolling along the seafront, you will find yourself on the Venere Azzurra beach, known for its golden sand and beautiful sea. As you walk up the alleyways, you can stop for a coffee in Piazza Garibaldi, a meeting and resting place for tourists, where you can admire the church of San Francesco and the tower of San Rocco.
This land, particularly loved by Gabriele D’Annunzio, is enlivened by the hamlet of San Terenzo, which combines relaxation and charm, with its pebble beach and the incredible castle of San Lorenzo just a few steps from the Brusacà square.
It is worth mentioning Fiascherino, a charming hamlet with its small beach, the Baia delle Stelle, a place of authentic beauty.
In the Bay of Poets, La Spezia is the main town, on which the other villages also depend. In fact, this magnificent city is easily accessible from almost anywhere in Italy and makes it possible to reach the nearby villages, including Lerici and Portovenere, with ease. It is also possible to reach the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site of infinite historical and scenic beauty.
La Spezia is a key part in this magnificent gulf. Situated in the exact centre of the Gulf of Poets, La Spezia is built around Corso Cavour and Via del Prione, which represent the soul of the city. From here you can feel an enchanted atmosphere, taking a walk along the seafront. You can also visit the public gardens, important for their remarkable botanical biodiversity and for the monument dedicated to Garibaldi.
What a feeling of well-being pervades you when you explore the alleyways and the most important monuments such as the Cathedral of Christ! And, for enthusiasts, the Naval Technical Museum, which displays a large number of antique weapons and ordnance from the First World War!
If you’re passing through here in the Gulf of Poets, you should absolutely visit La Spezia!
Here we talk about Portovenere, a gem located at the northern end of the Gulf of La Spezia. The fact that this enchanting village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site explains a lot about its history and charm. Portovenere takes its name from an ancient temple, now destroyed, dedicated to Venus, where the church of San Pietro now stands.
Here you have a wide choice of activities! Going on an excursion to see the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto is a fantastic experience, plus the chance to visit the mysterious Byron’s Grotto, named after the inspiration it gave to the famous poet.
If you are an experienced diver, you should visit the wreck of the ship Equa, just a few kilometres from the seabed of the Gulf of Poets.
Campiglia is the last stop on our wonderful journey through the Bay of Poets. This enchanting place is completely surrounded by greenery and thanks to its paths you can reach beautiful beaches, scenic spots or even find yourself in the middle of a vineyard.
In short, there are many opportunities for wild trekking!
The Church of Santa Caterina is the only monument in the village, but Campiglia redeems itself in the culinary sphere: its saffron cultivation is important for the area and the product is of a very high quality.
Food & Wine in the Gulf of Poets!
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Eating and drinking is certainly not a problem if you visit the Gulf of Poets! From the aniseed biscuits of Lerici to the Poncré of San Terenzo, a soft cake made with pine nuts, fruit and sultanas, the local gastronomy respects a deep tradition.
In addition, the food on offer revolves heavily around the catch of the day and in particular the mussel and oyster farms. The local oysters are considered exceptional because, in contact with seaweed, they naturally take on that much-appreciated green colour.
And how can you forget the wine! Tasting a wine from the Gulf of Poets La Spezia I.G.T. and choosing between a glass of Cinque Terre D.O.C. and Vermentino, you have to stop and appreciate the history and traditions of a fascinating Liguria.
In fact, this region is often characterised by examples of heroic viticulture, i.e. vineyards located on steep slopes with an unfavourable climate, enhancing an otherwise abandoned territory.
Here’s how to get there and visit the Bay of Poets!
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If Liguria is a faraway place for you, I suggest you take the plane to Pisa’s Galileo Galilei airport. Once in the city, in Pisa, you can take the direct train to La Spezia, where everything becomes easier!
From here, in fact, there are buses with which you can reach the different villages I have mentioned, but also ferries that take you directly to Lerici.
However, I would advise against coming by car, both because of the large number of people in high season and because restricted traffic zones are set up which make access to the main villages quite difficult.
That said, you just have to hurry up and enjoy the atmosphere and peacefulness that only the Gulf of Poets can give you! Get excited and book your trip to the Gulf of Spezia!