I hadn’t heard of La Spezia prior to this last trip. In fact, I only ended up staying in La Spezia because I couldn’t find a place in the Cinque Terre proper on short notice. Upon arrival, the young lady at the Bed & Breakfast I stayed at – Urban Chic House – said La Spezia was a boring place, but she lived there. She did give me a couple good tips about the fastest ways around and where the pedestrian streets were – which turned out to be where most of the nightlife was as well.
The hotel was nice, and I sort of felt like a local because you have all these keys to get into the building, and the building just looks like any of the other apartments in the historic center. In fact there seem to be many people that live in the same building as the B&B. It could be any of the buildings in the above photo. It’s not, but it could be – it’s that “normal” looking. So I needed a key for the front door, a key for the flat, a key for the room, and a key for the room lights and AC. I’m not kidding about that last part.
Since I arrived in the evening, I chose to explore La Spezia instead of heading towards the 5 Terre to try to catch a sunset (which I would have missed anyway). Shortly after setting off towards the harbor I came across this place:
If you’ve traveled much at all, you know a place that looks like this means good food. All I heard was being spoken in Italian – except for a little Dutch or German. This seemed to be popular with the locals. As I hung around a bit to understand, it seems that the fish comes from the fishing boats in the evening, to the pescateria for processing, and is served at the pescatoria the next night. They write the menu on a chalkboard near the front of the line. I came back later in the evening and it was awesome.
Speaking of that – another reason I loved La Spezia and the Cinque Terre in general is everyone understood my Italian! I don’t remember repeating myself once! It’s a fairly big tourist region, so that helps, I’m sure, but it made the town feel more welcoming to me – like when you meet that special someone and they just understand you. La Spezia seemed to understand me!
I spent the evening enjoying the sights and the local nightlife. The night pictures were on the CineStill that was zapped by the X-ray at JFK. If you’re ever in La Spezia, be prepared to do some karaoke – there’s a great bar that does outdoor karaoke and they all seem to really get into it.
In the morning, the last shot of Portra was at the market. I happened to then take a similar shot later in the day on the roll of Ektar I loaded, so here’s a bit of a comparison of the two:
La Spezia Market – Ektar
That’s 400 speed Portra and 100 Speed Ektar, so the difference in grain is apparent. but I think it also shows the difference in tonal palette. And in this case, I sort of like the Ektar better. But I think it’s partly due to the lighting conditions, partly the tones, and partly due to the fact that the shot on Ektar captures the essence of the market – chaos, people everywhere, and beautifully colored fresh food!
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a stay in La Spezia as your base of exploration for the Cinque Terre. In fact, I could see it as being the town in Italy that we go to during retirement. It’s a short ride from Pisa and Genova, not that far from Sienna or Florence, and it’s on the Ligurian sea. E se ti parla italiano, loro capiscono! I hope you enjoy the pictures, and perhaps they can convey a bit of the character of La Spezia.