The Ligurian coast is home to the modern seaport of La Spezia as well as the time-capsule fishing villages of the Cinque Terre. With three days, you can explore both and still have time to adventure farther down the coastline to the spectacular marble quarries of Carrara. Here’s how to make the most of three days in La Spezia.
Day 1: La Spezia
La Spezia’s modern port area belies the charm of its nearby old town, a delightful stretch of lanes thick with small shops and old-school restaurants—and hardly a tourist in sight. Soak in the authentic atmosphere and pretty art nouveau architecture along the main thoroughfares and seaside promenade, stopping to take in sights such as San Giorgio Castle and the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. In the afternoon, discover the city’s excellent cuisine with a food tour through the historic center, stopping at delis and trattorias to sample local specialties such as focaccia and pasta with pesto or walnut sauce. Finally, participate in a home-cooking class or demonstration to learn the history and techniques behind La Spezia’s most beloved dishes, followed by a family-style meal.
Day 2: The Cinque Terre
For many travelers, La Spezia is the gateway to the Cinque Terre. On your second day, follow the crowds and visit this clutch of five delightfully colorful fishing villages on a driving tour, boat or sailboat trip, or an e-bike tour. Most guided tours include a stop in one or two of the five villages—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore—and time to have lunch at one of the tiny trattorias tucked among the steep, narrow lanes. Wine enthusiasts can combine a tour of the Cinque Terre with a tasting to discover the excellent wines grown on the terraced hillsides of the Ligurian coast.
Day 3: Carrara
Farther down the coast into Tuscany, the marble quarries of Carrara are one of the most unique sights in the steep foothills of the Apuan Alps and an easy day trip from La Spezia. Devote your third day to exploring these historic quarries with a 4WD, learning about the white rock used to to create everything from the ancient Roman Pantheon to Michelangelo’s David. See how massive blocks have been excavated from deep inside the mountains for two millennia, and tour open-air, terraced, and underground quarries in the mountains above the Colonnata Valley. End your tour by tasting the local delicacy, lardo di Colonnata, a traditional fatback cured with salt and herbs and aged in Carrara-marble basins.