Eugenio Montale, Cinque Terre, 1946.
The Cinque Terre is an area 14 km long stretching along the coast line included between cape Montenero and cape Mesco.
These five small villages are connected to one another through a path whose most famous stretch is known as Lover’s Lane, going between the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola. In 1997 the Cinque Terre was declared a Unesco World Heritage site. In 1999 were also declared a National Park, defined “Man’s Park” as the landscape was shaped by its inhabitants in centuries of hard work with the creation of terraces – called cian in local dialect – embraced by 7,000 kilometers of dry-stone walls. The terraces are used to cultivate olive groves and vineyards.
Small fortresses still remind us of the dangers coming from the sea and the economic importance of these small villages, established starting from the 11th century by people coming from the inland areas.
You can visit here interesting churches, built by the Maritime Republic of Genoa starting from the 13th century, and the five sanctuaries located on top of the hills at about 300 mt. of height.
VAL DI MAGRA
Borderland between Liguria and Tuscany
The Val di Magra is an open and airy valley excavated by the river Magra, originating from Mount Borgognone in Tuscany and flowing with a large estuary into the Ligurian sea between Bocca di Magra and Fiumaretta.
Each village gives the opportunity of visiting monuments and mansions which still preserve ancient furnitures and host famous museums and interesting cultural events.
The castles represent an interesting common theme of the valley, together with the Magra river, that gives a connection among different landscapes.
Memories of the Roman Age can be seen in what remains of the Roman colony of Luni, established in the 177 bC close to the estuary of the river Magra. Luni is today a very important Archeological site.
The main town is Sarzana, dominated by the Fortress of Sarzanello. The Cathedral of Sarzana, dedicated to Holy Mary, keeps the relic of the Precious Blood and the Cross of Maestro Guglielmo, dating back to 1138.
The Val di Magra also offers interesting opportunities to do trekking and follow naturalistic itineraries, especially inside the National Park of Montemarcello – Magra.
THE VARA VALLEY
The “organic Valley”
This inner valley is enclosed between the Apennines and the coast of the Cinque Terre and takes the name from the river Vara. The abundance of water and its rich environment, dotted with meadows, made it possible for this valley to become the flagship of organic agriculture.
Ancient medieval routes run through the woods and over the hills up to the mountains’ peaks. The highest peak is Mount Dragnone, 1,011 mt. The main attractions of the valley are the castles of Calice and Madrignano and the round-shaped villages of Varese Ligure and Brugnato, where you can find the Diocesan Museum, located in the former bishop’s palace.
Zignago is the village that keeps remains of prehistoric settlements, called castellari, dating back to the Bronze Age, whereas in Maissana is still visible a jasper quarry used for the production of arrowheads.
“… The blue extent of the waters, the almost land-locked bay, the near castle
of Lerici shutting it in to the east and distant Portovenere to the west; thevaried forms of the precipitous rocks that bound in the beach.. a picture such as one sees in Salvator Rosa’s landscapes only… ” Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley , 1822 The Gulf takes name from the largest town built in its center: La Spezia. The Gulf is protected by mountains surrounding it and framed between the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto and the promontory of Portovenere to the West and by the coast of Lerici to the East.
At the beginning of the 1800s, Napoleon planned the establishment in this Gulf of a fortressed defensive system but it was only in 1861 that the Naval Base was inaugurated, thanks to the Italian Prime Minister Camillo di Cavour.
On the eastern side of the Gulf you find the villages of Lerici, Tellaro and Fiascherino. On the western side, going toward Portovenere, the coast is dotted with small villages and settlements, like Marola, Fezzano and Le Grazie where you can visit the important archaeological site of the Roman villa of Varignano dating back to the I century bC.
La Spezia is capital of the province and is a lively town of about 90,000 inhabitants.