Cool Castles & Awesome Art (a family-friendly alternative to Cinque Terre) from La Spezia
On our family-friendly alternative to the Cinque Terre from the port of La Spezia you will enjoy the same stunning coastline the Cinque Terre is famous for without the hassles and tiresome driving times. Ideal for even the tiniest tourists!
Optional wine tasting is a great way for the adults to finish the day while the kids play on the beautiful grounds.
A NOTE ABOUT DRIVING TIMES
Not even 2 hrs in total. La Spezia-Pietrasanta, 45 min; Pietrasanta-Lerici, 30 min; Lerici-Sarzana, 15 min; Sarzana-La Spezia, 30min.
If you have an aversion to hideously crowded places then you’ll want to avoid the Cinque Terre in high season. We created this family-friendly alternative to the Cinque Terre from La Spezia to enable you to visit some places off the beaten path — including supercool REAL castles — as well as the beautiful coastline that tourists flock to the Cinque Terre for. Also a great choice for a shorter touring day (7 hrs).
In Lerici and Sarzana you’ll see ancient fortresses, and in Pietrasanta you’ll see modern art. That’s some crazy contrasts! In Lerici you can also climb to the top of the castle (except on Mondays), stroll the seaside promenade, go for a swim, and have lunch on a terrace in the big, open piazza.
The optional winery visit at Ca’ Lunae is even a kid-friendly thing! Besides being extremely beautiful, there are outdoor spaces where children can run around, and a little exhibit of old farm implements and photographs that is interesting for all ages. With the winery the excursion lasts 8-9 hours (depending on how slowly you sip your wine or dawdle over the gorgeous food products in the shop).
DETAILS: COOL CASTLES & AWESOME ART from La Spezia
With an 8:30 pickup and no winery the itinerary is planned as follows*:
- 08.30-09.15 pick up at the ship, drive to Pietrasanta
- 09.15-10.15 go on the art walk in Pietrasanta, have a refreshment if you wish (not included in the rate)
- 10.15-10.45 drive to Lerici
- 10.45-14.00 visit Lerici castle, stroll the seaside promenade, have lunch (not included in the rate)
- 14.00-14.15 drive to Sarzana
- 14.15-15.00 walk around the exterior of Sarzanello fortress, stroll the town of Sarzana, stop for gelato or coffee
- 15.00-15.30 drive back to port
If you’d like to go to the winery it would be the last thing in the day, after Sarzana (only a 10 minute drive).
*This itinerary is for illustrative purposes only; reality may vary based on many factors. We may also need to adjust the start time; please refer to your confirmation for the final details.
The tradition of marble-working goes back many centuries in Pietrasanta. As you walk around the village today it’s like being in an open-air museum. Sculptures by artists of international acclaim dot the streets and public buildings, and finding them is a bit like a treasure hunt! We’ll give you a map of a condensed art walk that you can complete in 30-45 minutes.
If you have time you might want to visit a sculptor’s laboratory or sit in the piazza in front of the elegant cathedral of San Martino to enjoy a coffee and pastry or chocolate treat at Pasticceria Il Duomo where there are cases and cases of sweet temptations.
Originally built to protect against Saracen pirates, Lerici castle is almost 900 years old! During the Middle Ages the dominions of Genoa, Pisa, and Florence — each city like it’s own little country at that time — fought over the fortress due to its strategic position on the Gulf of Poets. After climbing to the ramparts you won’t believe how high up you are! And you will see why Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) said that the beauty of the place is so great that it seems not of this earth.
Speaking of Frankenstein, Lerici castle may very well have been the inspiration for the castle in Shelley’s timeless novel. Some people say it’s haunted by a ghost named Madì, and that there is a secret passageway that leads to Piazza Garibaldi. See if you can find them!
After visiting the castle go and stroll the seaside promenade and take in the splendid views of the bay, maybe even go for a swim!
Like Lerici, Sarzana held a strategic position in ancient times, and that’s why we find another castle here. Sarzanello fortress, which sits high on a hill with views of the Ligurian countryside. We’ll just take a look at the exterior (opening times aren’t conducive to going inside), but it will impress you. The fortress is big and beautiful and imposing and way cool, even for grownups.
COOL CASTLES & AWESOME ART from La Spezia
7 hrs without the winery
8-9 hrs with the winery
OTHER COSTS & NOTES
- OPTIONAL WINE TASTING AT CA' LUNAE
- Tour and guided tasting of 2 whites and 1 red accompanied by focaccia and the estate's own olive oil, 26 Euro pp
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