La Spezia in the Liguria region is the capital of the province of the same name. Overlooking clear seas, the province has lovely villages, steep cliffs and excellent beaches.
Major attractions in the capital city include the Cristo Re dei Secoli cathedral and the Santa Marria Assunta abbey church, which houses stunning artwork. The city also has the sixteenth century Santi Giovanni e Agostino church, the thirteenth century Castello di San Giorgio, Art Nouveau style villas and several museums.
The inspiring Cinque Terre are located in the province. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the five seaside villages are among the most beautiful in Italy. They include Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza. Other pretty towns in La Spezia include Brugnato, Montemarcello, Ameglia, Tellaro and Varese Ligure. The province is also home to Luni, site of a Roman amphitheatre, and Sarzana, the second largest city with a large fortress. An impressive castle in Lerici and the colourful townscape of Porto Venere are also must-sees.
Diving and snorkelling are popular at the Cinque Terre National Park. The waters off the coast of La Spezia are also ideal for whale watching. The Vara and Magra rivers offer thrilling opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and rafting.
For hiking, a visit to the Sentiero Azzurro is a must. The trail runs along the coast between the five villages of the Cinque Terre. The Montemarcello-Magra Reserve is also a good choice for hiking, as well as mountain biking and horseback riding.
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