|On board Trenitalia to Spezia, I am heading north west from Pisa through flat lands of cereal crops beginning to ripen, lettuce and other vegetable garden crops, nurseries of trees, and paddocks of race horses.
There appears to be a great deal of industry in this area too. Plants with yards full of huge blocks of marble, crushed marble, and powdered marble seem to abound. The mountain ranges begin to dominate the view on either side of the train and in no time I am in darkenss. The trains do very little climbing in Italy. Rather, the railway lines tunnel through the mountains. La Spezia, a sea side city on the Ligurian Sea became my next stop.
As always, after finding my lodging, I go about an orientation walk to get my bearings and draft a mental itinerary for the next three days. First impressions of La Spezia are most impressive! The streets in the business district are on a grid with wide, leafy boulevards. The central boulevard is lined with parasol pines (called umbrella pines in Roma) and orange trees line the sidewalks on either side of the streets. Often the buildings offer covered archades to provide shade along the walk ways.
The buildings are grand in size and offer a variety of limestone and marble exteriors. Many seem to be painted in pastels of maize, various shades of greens, bluish greys, and shades of rose and pinks. The grand doors and shudders are forest green in colour. (Doors in Italy could be yet another interesting study. I have just realized this and wish that I could retrace my steps to photograph them.) Lacey iron lattice work and combinations of iron and marble balconies have loads of flowers spilling over the railings. Blocks of designer shopping are within a pedonale district of squares and restaurants. It was at Piazza Saint Boniface where I found a quiet sidewalk cafe for antipasto, primo, and caffe.
The remainder of the day was spent at the harbour which is a large modern park-like setting of modern designed white park benches, statues, and gardens. [Just opposite, across the boulevard, there is a large traditional park of gardens, classic statuary, and the ever so common carousel in its centre.] Roses, lilies, birds of paradise, giant cacti with pink and yellow flowers, red and pink geranium the size of lilac bushes, and every imaginable species and colour of rose abound in this park. Many of the trees, too, were in white and creamy coloured blossoms. Along the wide walkways were several memorials and attributes to prominent Italians and international persons such as Baden Powell. Freighters, ferries, yachts, tour boats, and military vessels were anchored at varios depths and along the jetty. Though large silos at one side of the bay and cranes on the opposite side are also part of this scene, the harbour was unlike most others in terms of clealiness and beauty.
In contrast to Roma, Venice, Sienna, Firenze, and Pisa, I am noticing a more modern city; or perhaps this northern city is influenced by other European countries and somewhat lesser by the Etruscan, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations of the former cities which I have strolled.
Tomorrow morning, I will board the local train to Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre, a 15 minute ride away.