As the New Year starts I find myself looking back over 2011 and I’ve realised there were many other places I meant to share and didn’t get the chance at the time. January is a quieter month so I thought I’d play catch up, and as it’s wet and dreary today it will serve to remind me of the joys of summer! So let’s head up the coast a little into Liguria and specifically to Lerici.
Initially I didn’t quite ‘get’ Lerici. It seemed very familiar and yet not quite right. Then I realised the lay out of the town reminded me very much of Torquay in Devon, England, a place very near where we used to live. Torquay and its bay are known as ‘The English Riviera’ so fair play to Torquay, it is certainly very reminiscent of the Italian Riviera. But what Lerici has in place of Torquay’s penguin collection is a C12th polygonal castle which superbly dominates the town and looks dauntingly impregnable.Inside the castle has been put to use as a museum of paleontology following local finds of dinosaur footprints. As a mother of boys I’ve visited way too many dinosaur and fossil musuems! This one didn’t rank high for us, but at least gave the chance to see inside and offered some excellent views across the bay.
A tunnel giving access to the castle was being used as a gallery for artwork by a local school, each had copied a famous painting but added in Lerici Castle. I don’t know if they are always on display there or if it was temporary but they were great fun. Here’s a few of my favourites.
When I really ‘got’ Lerici though was when we swam at Venere Azzurra free beach. With the bay curved around there were amazing views to be had bobbing in the warm gentle water. I wish I could show how good it was looking back from the sea, but instead here’s looking from the beach outwards, just imagine a little bit!
Thebay, which curves around from Lerici via San Terenzo to Portovenere, is known as ‘the Gulf of Poets’ as Shelley and Byron spent time there. Living here in Bagni di Lucca which also has such strong associations with the english romantic poets I enjoy the sense of following in their Italian footsteps a little. Lerici has the more famous and poignant association of being the place Shelley was returning to by boat when he drowned in a storm aged only 30. Sadly it will take more than a dip in the same sea to make a poet out of me, so the last words on Lerici should go to Shelley.
By car- from Bagni di Lucca (1 hour 20minutes) or Lucca, Lerici is easily reached by the autostrada A12 direction Genova, Exit at Sarzana. From Sarzana exit it’s about 10minutes drive to Lerici. The town is closed to traffic. There is a large paying car park with a shuttle bus into the main part of town, or a few minutes on foot to Venere Azzurra beach.
By public transport-the nearest railway stations are La Spezia and Sarzana, then by bus http://www.atcesercizio.it