Lerici and the Gulf of Poets
Lerici ItalyLerici is one of the nearest places on the Italian Riviera to Lake Garda and it makes a pleasant and interesting trip. Allow 2 hours 45 minutes for the 250km journey via Brescia along the A15. The approach road gives breathtaking views of the red-roofed town, the castle on the headland and the bay beyond from the road. Lerici is a fairly quiet beach town and commune in the province of La Spezia and it is linked by ferry with Cinque Terre and Portovenere across the Bay of Lerici. One of the main sights of the town is the 13th century castle built by Pisani on the headland which once controlled the entrance to the Gulf of La Spezia. Today it is the home of the Museum of Palaeontology.
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This area is known as the Gulf of Poets as it attracted many writers in the early 19th century to have a residence in this lovely area. English writers Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary Shelley lived for a time in an isolated boat house called Casa Magni. The English poet, Lord Byron also spent some of his short life in the area, and a grotto is dedicated to him at Portovenere where he used to swim. Both Dante and Petrarch wrote of the beauty of the Gulf and Italian author Mario Soldati had a residence in the frazione of Tellaro. La Padula in the Lerici hills was built for Baroness Emmuska Orczy, Hungarian author of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
A day in Lerici offers plenty of variety. You can walk to San Terenzo and enjoy lunch there, or take one of the hiking trails to the small nearby fishing villages such as Fiascherino, Tellaro or Montemarcello. Take a trip on one of the small ferries across the Bay to La Spezia or to Portovenere which has a cathedral, a Genovese church, a castle and many pastel-colored houses around the port. Visitors may also enjoy the scenic drive around the peninsula. The town of Lerici has a small historic quarter and the Jewish ghetto still remains here. The crescent-shaped piazza with its wave tiles is a pleasant place to sit and there are many seafood restaurants in the area. The two public beaches in Lerici are lovely and there is a large port. For culture-seekers the town has a Shelley Museum and a Natural History Museum. Look for the Roman Tower of San Rocco which later became a bell tower and the nearby Palazzo Doria which was an old hospital dedicated to St Peter and St Paul.
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