Below is a map of La Spezia province in Liguria. In many ways, La Spezia province is the most compelling of Liguria’s four provinces. Here you’ll find the vaunted villages of Le Cinque Terre (shown in red on the map), the romantic Gulf of Poets, and one of my favorite haunts, the Bocca di Magra, the mouth of the Magra river as it empties into the Ligurian Sea near the marble mountains behind Massa and Carrara. Go here for your tourist-free seafood dinner and a long stroll along the sea
The town of La Spezia is known as the “Gateway to the Cinque Terre.” Many visitors will change trains in La Spezia; often clogging binario uno or track one for the local train that runs along the coast toward Sestre Levante, Riomaggiore is the first stop for most trains. You can also get to the Cinque Terre from Genoa, taking regional trains toward La Spezia.
La Spezia train station has a Cinque Terre resource office where you can buy a Cinque Terre Card. The Cinque Terre Train Card offers unlimited transport on the La Spezia to Levanto section of railway. You can also purchase cards at the Cinque Terre Local Station. Read more about the Cinque Terre Cards
For more information on La Spezia, see the La Spezia Map and Travel Guide
Find out more about the Gulf of Poets:
The seaside walk between Lerici and San Terenzo is quite pleasant.
Castle Towns in La Spezia Province
Sarzana has a pair of restored castles. There’s one on the edge of town and another just a bit out in the country called Sarzanello.
Sarzana is a good place to take in a Medieval Festival; see our video of Medieval Sarzana. There’s a fine evening passeggiata,, after which you can tuck in to a fine meal at just about any of its (many) restaurants.
Calice al Cornoviglia is a rustic borgo spread around the Doria-Malaspina medieval castle: See the map and guide to Calice al Cornoviglia.
Brugnato is the Val di Vara town noted for its Infiorata del Corpus Domini festival, in which the streets are layered with flowers arranged artistically—for the faithful to trample. Video of the Infiorata del Corpus Domini in Brugnato
Varese Ligure is an interesting borgo built around an ancient castle (today private property). One of the castle’s towers dates back to 1435. You should plan to eat at Albergo Ristorante Amici when in Varese Ligure.
Castelnuovo di Magra is an interesting hill town with castle ruins and a fine restaurant called Trattoria Armanda as well as an enoteca where you can taste the local wines. More: Castelnuovo di Magra Map and Travel Information
Cinque Terre Travel Resources
If you are looking for an alternative to the Cinque Terre, you might look to Levanto. From Levanto you can take a boat to view the Cinque Terre from the sea, which is the best vantage point anyway, or you can walk or bike historic train tunnels that take you along the coast to the seaside villages of Bonassola and Framura.