La Spezia and the amazing Marine Festival

In Food & Wine, Sailing, Travel ideas
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Exploring La Spezia

If you are visiting the Gulf of Poets, La Spezia – which is one of the main Italian military and commercial harbors – offers some interesting sights and things to do. La Spezia is the largest town on the Bay of Poets and capital city of the namesake province in Liguria.

The city hosts a number of museums. One of the most particular is the Technical Naval Museum (Museo Tecnico Navale). Located at the main entrance of the Naval Arsenal, its main specialty is the equipment of the Italian Navy Special Forces, which were founded in La Spezia and are still stationed there.

Castello di San Giorgio in La Spezia
Castello di San Giorgio. Photo credit: Museo del Castello San Giorgio

The Civic Archaeologic Museum “Ubaldo Formentini” holds several relics found in the surrounding Lunigiana area and dating back to prehistoric and medieval times. Other museums include the National Transportation Museum, Ethnographic Civic Museum, and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (CAMeC).

Among the churches, make sure to stop at the Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta. It houses a considerable series of artworks including an Incoronation of the Virgin by Andrea della Robbia, the Multiplication of Bread by Giovanni Battista Casoni and St. Bartholomew’s Martyrdom by Luca Cambiaso.

Other attractions in La Spezia include the Castle of San Giorgio, built in 1262 by Niccolò Fieschi (it hosts the Civic Archaeologic Museum); the beautiful and rich public gardens; and the idyllic Passegiata Morin, the seaside promenade embellished by palms and floral compositions, offering a panoramic view of the inspiring Gulf of Poets.

La Spezia and a panoramic view of the Gulf of Poets

The most important annual event is the exciting Palio del Golfo. For more information see the article Palio of the Gulf: pride & tradition

Festa della Marineria

La Spezia hosts the Marine Festival (Festa della Marineria) every two years. The fourth edition of this beautiful and entertaining event is took place from 27 to 30 August 2015.

This major event includes exhibitions, regattas and shows inspired by the seafaring culture, which has always played an important role in La Spezia’s history and traditions.

Boat Show inauguration at La Spezia Marine Festival, Liguria
Photo credit: Festa della Marineria

The Marine Festival features more than 200 events & attractions between performances, cooking shows, guided visits, scientific labs and – not to be missed – the exhibition of sailing ships, boats, fishing vessels of all sorts and ages.


Do not miss “Il Vespucci e Altri Velieri”: this exhibition features the models of large sailing vessels that had an impact on Italy’s history, including the boats of Vespucci and Colombo, and the beautiful Palinuro and Orsa Maggiore. Here you can also admire the historic uniforms of the Italian Military Marine.

Majestic historic sail boats at La Spezia Marine Festival, Liguria
Majestic historic sail boats – Photo credits: Maria Luisa Anna Borroni and Silvia Frediani (Festa della Marineria)

Festa della Marineria allows visitors to witness something quite unique and unusual: 36 different menus that were served on the boats of the Regia Marina, which was the Royal Navy of the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 to 1946 – after which, with the birth of the Italian Republic, the name was changed to Marina Militare.

Amazing sail vessel in the Bay of Poets, La Spezia, Liguria
Photo credit: Maria Luisa Anna Borroni (Festa della Marineria)

There are also exhibitions on the noble art of the shipwright; on naval model building; on marine paintings; and on the traditional local Palio del Golfo di La Spezia.

Foodie Paradise

The 2015 edition focuses particularly on Food in honor of Expo Milano 2015. A series of initiatives take place under the “Cibo del Mare” (seafood) theme, telling the story of local fishing traditions and of the marine cuisine that characterizes the Ligurian Riviera.

Famous Italian chefs – as well as a new generation of alternative chefs – will be present at the Festa della Marineria. Cooking shows take place in the town’s Auditorium and Teatro del Mare (Sea Theater).

The Sea Theater in La Spezia, Liguria
The Sea Theater. Photo credit: Festa della Marineria

Local inhabitants will also be protagonists, sharing traditional recipes of the territory. Finally, societies like Slow Food and Sea Shepherd organize tastings of local products (the former) and of vegan sea cuisine (the latter).

Shows & Meetings

Under the “Spettacoli” (shows) theme, visitors at La Spezia’s Festival can admire navigation and the sea through spectacular creations and performances right on the sea. GROUPE F, one of the most important production companies in the world, is behind the pyrotechnic shows and open air theatrical works designed specifically for this event.

Lights installation by Groupe F - Festival della Marineria, La Spezia, Liguria
Lights installation by Groupe F – Photo credit:

Incontri” (encounters) is the theme that proposes scientific and literary meetings tied to the sea: winds, storms, humanity, heroism and tragic shipwrecks.

Other thematic areas include innovative spaces and didactic labs for children, as well as music shows.


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