THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF LUNI
The city of Luna (Moon) was a flourishing Roman colony, established in 177 bC. The name derives from the crescent shape of its port that was already used BY the Etruscans. Thanks to its strategic position, the port of Luni was used both for commercial and for military purposes but mainly for the transportation of the white marble quarried from the Apuan Alps. The precious Luni marble was used everywhere in the Roman Empire.
In the Christian age, the city became seat of the powerful bishops of Luni but had to be abandoned in the 13th century because the port area had turned into marshland.
You can see relics of the centuries-long history of Luni not only at the Archaeological Museum but also at the four farmhouses, built in the 19th century, that were transformed into small museums where you can see reconstructions of the Grand Temple, the mosaic technique and frescoes.
The visit of the archeological remains includes the Forum, the main road called decumanus and the main street called cardo. Here you can see what remains of important buildings like the Capitolium, the Basilica and the Grand Temple.
Excavations brought to light also some very rich houses. Very interesting is also the Amphitheatre, located at the eastern gate of the town that could host up to 7,000 people.
THE VARIGNANO ROMAN VILLA
In the I century bC, the Romans built a a rustic-residential seaside construction located in a hollow overlooking the sea on the western side of the Gulf of La Spezia, in the bay called Varignano Vecchio. The villa had a pier and a dock and had both the characteristics of a vacation house and that of a farm. The villa had a main building for the masters, where you can still see the lobby, the hall and what remains of the mosaic pavement, and a part dedicated to the production of olive oil where you can see remains of the tools used for grinding the olives and the cellar. The thermal area, built in the I century a.C., had heated rooms and a tub for cold baths and a big cistern to store water, the only example of this kind in northern Italy.
THE GEO PALEOANTOLOGICAL MUSEUM – CASTLE OF LERICI
The castle stands on top of the rocky promontory that closes the bay on the south.
The construction of the castle started in the 12th century and finished in the 16th century, with subsequent interventions of Pisa and Genoa. The rooms, the yard, the terrace and the chapel dedicated to Saint Anastasia are still visible.
THE NAVAL MUSEUM
The museum, 3,000 square meters large, is next to the main gate of the Naval Base of La Spezia and contains memories of the history of the Italian Navy.
The Naval Museum originated from a private collection of the Savoy family and became, over the centuries, a showcase of memories, small-scale models and prototypes accompanying the visitor in the reconstruction of the history of navigation and of the Italian Navy.
There are many original pieces, like figureheads, motorboats, the famous manned torpedoes and the remains of the submarine “Scirè”, attacked and destroyed during World War 2.
THE “UBALDO FORMENTINI” CIVIC MUSEUM – SAN GIORGIO CASTLE
San Giorgio castle was built between the 14th and the 17th century on a hill dominating the town of La Spezia. Here, the first centre of the city was established. Today, following thorough renovation works, the castle houses the Archaeological Museum, where you can see findings and evidence of the surrounding territory from prehistory to the Middle Ages. It is also possible to visit two very important collections: the series of “Stele Statues” from Lunigiana, which were made by the indigenous population in 3,000 bC, and the “Fabbricotti” collection, with relics from the Roman town of Luni and from La Spezia.
It is also worth spending some time visiting the section dedicated to the burial habits in the pre-Christian era and the Paleontological section where you can see a reconstruction of the habitat in the province of La Spezia during prehistory.
THE A. LIA MUSEUM OF ART
The museum is housed in the former convent of S. Francesco da Paola, dating back to the 17th century and thoroughly renovated to host the outstanding art collection donated to the city of by Mr. Amedeo Lia. The collection is a very precious one and is exposed in 13 rooms, where you can see bronze statues, Italian and foreign miniatures, liturgical and secular objects, ancient glasses ranging from the Middles Ages to Renaissance, enamels and ivory objects. The collection of paintings is noteworthy and ranges between the 13th to the 18th century from paint on wood to canvases and including portraits by Caravaggio’s followers.
It is possible here to admire artworks of Tiziano, Paolo Veronese, Sebastiano del Piombo, Canaletto and a self-portrait of Pontormo.
The first room entering the museum, which used to be the ancient chapel of the convent, hosts an important collection of sacred objects including medieval crucifixes, enamels, ivory and silver objects.
Also worth a visit is the Wunderkammer created on the example f the European courts starting from the 16th century, housing peculiar and precious objects and works of art.
THE MUSEUM OF THE SEAL
This museum originated from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Cappellini, who decided to give it to the municipality of La Spezia.
You can find here 1,500 seals of all types and shapes, from those used in ancient Egypt to those used in the Middle Ages, during Renaissance and up to modern times. This collection traces a story line of the seals, matrix and imprints of civilization. Special notes of interest are the seals from China and those designed by Lalique and Fabergè.
THE “GIOVANNI PODENZANA” ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM
This museum is housed in the old centre of La Spezia, in the former Oratory of St. Bernardino, together with the Diocesan Museum. The museum has been named after the naturalist and ethnographer Giovanni Podenzana and the itinerary was completely renovated. Here you can find a complete resume of the antique culture and traditions of the Lunigiana area, including personal objects, house furnishing, jewelers, costumes, handcrafts, textiles, threading and weaving tools dating back to approximately between the 1.700s and 1.900s.
MUSEUMS OF THE DIOCESES OF LA SPEZIA, SARZANA, BRUGNATO.
The Diocesan Museum in La Spezia takes part of a rich Diocesan museum route, which includes also the museums of Sarzana and Brugnato. In fact the actual diocese of La Spezia,Sarzana and Brugnato are the heirs of the antic diocesan of Luni. This includes the antic dioceses of Luni, Sarzana and Brugnato. While the diocesan of La Spezia, which has more recent origins was founded in1929.
THE DIOCESAN MUSEUM OF LA SPEZIA
The museum of La Spezia id found in the antic Oratori of San Bernardino, which was the church of the Brotherhood of San Bernardino, the Diocesan Museum of La Spezia is situated in the heart of the historical centre of the city, near the Lia Museum and the other city Museums . There are many permanent historical art collections which date back to the XIV to xvi centuries are displayed in the museum, among them the valuable paintings of Antonio da Carpena (nicknamed Carpenino) and other important artists who worked in the 5 Terre area such as the paintings by Carlo Braccesco which belong to the parish church of Saint Andrew in Levanto. Popular religiousness has been given a special importance by the display of interesting objects which belong to ancient Brotherhoods.
THE DIOCESAN MUSEUM OF SARZANA
The Diocesan museum of Sarzana was founded with the aim of preserve and emphasis the value of the artistic heritage, which was mainly located in the lower part of Magra Valley, in order to pay tribute to the long history of our diocesan and the special features of its territory where it is situated. The museum is located in the ancient Oratorio of the Mercy in 6 rooms, each containing objects of a different kind such as furniture, silver objects and paintings on slate. There’s a room which is dedicated to the cult of the Holy Blood (Preziosissimo sangue) and one made in honor of Domenico Fiasella (nicknamed Sarzana) who was one of the most important artists in our area and one of the most important ligurian painters in the XVII century. The Museum contains his picture representing Santa Chiara taking the veil, an oil painting dated and signed by the author, where it is also possible to see a self portrait of the painter himself.
THE DIOCESAN MUSEUM OF BRUGNATO
The Museum of the Diocese of Brugnato is inside the Palace of the Bishop, which has been recently restored. The Palace is rich in decorations which are typical of the genoese Barrochetto style and contain a selection of valuable craftworks. The room containing the silver objects, which come from the nearby Cathedral are particularly interesting. Among the works of art preserved in the rooms of the Museum there is an altar –piece by the genoese Cesare Corte (end of XVI-XVI century) and the picture representing the Lactatio of Saint Bernardo by Gian Lorenzo Bellotto (1646-1721). On the ground floor of the Museum There is an archeological section displayed.