If you’re traveling to the Cinque Terre from the south, you’ll likely spend some time in La Spezia. Trains from Rome and Florence connect here to the line that serves the Cinque Terre — which makes it a convenient base for travelers who want to explore the region, but don’t have much time.

The home of one of Italy’s largest naval bases, La Spezia is less than an hour by train from Pisa. Once you reach La Spezia, you can take a ferry to Portovenere, Portofino, or the Cinque Terre villages RiomaggioreManarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.

The town of Lerici, a few miles to the south, has a medieval castle, an ocean-front promenade, and a lovely piazza. It can also be reached by ferry.

You can spend the day exploring the coast, return to one of the convenient La Spezia hotels for the night, and then head out early the next morning on the train.

Finding the right La Spezia hotel.

There aren’t a lot of La Spezia attractions, so as far as location goes, if you’re using public transportation, proximity to the train station and ferry dock is probably your top priority.

Locanda del Golfo e delle 5 Terre is just 100 yards from the train station. It’s near the pedestrian center of town and each of the six rooms has WiFi Internet access. Breakfast is served at a café down the street, and it’s about a ten minute walk to the waterfront. The owners here are friendly and helpful.

Located in the pedestrian part of town, Hotel Crismar provides it’s guests with bicycles for getting around town. With just nine rooms, you’ll get personalized attention. And those who are driving will appreciate the private parking lot nearby.

The 37-room Hotel Genova is about a 15-minute walk from the train station. But it’s close to shopping, restaurants, and attractions. There’s a bar, a restaurant, and computer work area, and the rooms have satellite TVs and small refrigerators.

Hotel Firenze & Continentale has 68 rooms with easy access to everything. Housed in a couple of circa-1900 buildings that have been recently renovated, it has Carrara marble floors, hand-pained murals, and other old-world details. A buffet breakfast is served in a room with views of the surrounding hills. This is one of the most traditional hotels in La Spezia.

If you have a car, Le Ville Relais offers wonderful views out over the Gulf of La Spezia. The hotel has eight rooms in two old Ligurian buildings. The best have balconies. There’s a swimming pool, sun terrace, sauna, and gym. And the property is surrounded by olive groves and lemon trees. The restaurant here is very good, but expensive. It’s a little off the beaten path, but lovely in its isolation.

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