|Comune della Spezia|
Panorama of La Spezia
|Province||La Spezia (SP)|
|Frazioni||Biassa, Campiglia, La Foce, Pitelli, San Venerio, Sarbia|
|o Mayor||Pierluigi Peracchini (centre-right)|
|o Total||51.39 km2 (19.84 sq mi)|
|Elevation||10 m (30 ft)|
|o Density||1,800/km2 (4,700/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
19100, 19121-19126, 19131-19139
|Patron saint||St. Joseph|
|Saint day||19 March|
La Spezia (Italian: [la 'sp?ttsja] ; A Spèza in the local Spezzino dialect), at the head of the Gulf of La Spezia in the southern part of the Liguria region of Northern Italy, is the capital city of the province of La Spezia.
In terms of population, La Spezia is the second city in the Liguria region, just after Genoa. Located roughly midway between Genoa and Pisa, on the Ligurian Sea, it is one of the main Italian military and commercial harbours and a major Italian Navy base. A significant railway junction, it is notable for its museums, for the Palio del Golfo rowing race, and for railway and boat links with the Cinque Terre.
La Spezia and its province have been settled since prehistoric times. In Roman times the most important centre was Luni, not far from Sarzana. As the capital of the short-lived Niccolò Fieschi Signoria in the period between 1256 and 1273, La Spezia was inevitably linked with Genoese vicissitudes. After the fall of the Serene Republic of Genoa, an independent state until 1797, La Spezia grew, developed and changed, though along lines similar to Liguria's capital Genoa. This Ligurian influence can still be seen in the urban layout as well as in the types of buildings and decorations. This is notable in the carrugio, the narrow street that divides the Old Town into two. It is called Via del Prione, taking its name from the pietrone or large stone, in local dialect prione, where public announcements were once read out.
Walking landwards from the sea it is possible to see partly hidden, but still evident, traces of history: engraved stones, capitals, and portals in fourteenth century sandstone, double lancet windows vaguely reminiscent of the future renaissance style of mannerism, baroque pediments, and decorations similar to those adorning the portals of the palaces once belonging to the Doria family and the Princes of Massa.
La Spezia developed substantially after 1861 when the great naval arsenal there was commissioned by the Royal government. In September 1943, after the Italian capitulation to the Allies, it was the departure port for the Italian Navy when it was ordered to steam into British hands at Malta. The Germans arrived too late to stop the departure of the fleet. During the war Italian troopships also left from La Spezia, including the Kaiser Franz Josef, a trans-Atlantic liner launched in Trieste in 1911 for the Austrian Lloyd company, which Italy had confiscated in 1919. It was sunk in La Spezia harbour in 1944.
After the liberation, La Spezia became the point of departure for survivors from Nazi concentration camps. From the summer of 1945 to the spring of 1948 more than 23,000 Jewish displaced persons managed to leave Italy clandestinely for the Palestine Mandate. After lengthy vicissitudes, the ships Fede, Fenice, and Komemiut managed to evacuate everyone from the Golfo di La Spezia, to the extent that on Israeli maps, La Spezia is called Shàar Zion , in Hebrew Gateway to Zion.
La Spezia has a borderline humid subtropical (Cfa) and Mediterranean climate (Csa), since only one month receives less than 40 millimetres (1.6 in). The city enjoys hot summers, chilly damp winters and very changeable and rainy autumns and springs. The average temperatures of the coldest month (January) are 4 °C (39 °F) minimum and 11 °C (52 °F) maximum. In the hottest month (July) they are 20 °C (68 °F) minimum and 29 °C (84 °F) maximum. Average annual precipitation is 1,314 millimetres (51.7 in), more than twice that in London. Snow is extremely uncommon. Heavy snowfalls are exceptional events: only in 1985 was a snowfall of more than 50 centimetres (20 in) recorded. Another big snowfall occurred during the night of 18 December 2009, with approximately 25 centimetres (9.8 in) of snow and temperatures as low as -7.4 °C (18.7 °F) in the following nights.
In winter nights, if the sky is clear, temperatures may fall below zero, usually reaching about -2 to -4 °C (28 to 25 °F). Conversely, in summer, especially during sunny days, the temperature can easily exceed 30 °C (86 °F), and sometimes it reaches 35 °C (95 °F). Furthermore, the sensation of heat in summer is increased by the high humidity.
Because of its topography, the city is not exposed to winds from the north, which lap western Liguria, but to those from the southeast. These may bring heavy rain and they can reach 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph), in rare cases causing the blocking of the port. The only northern wind reaching the city is the north-eastern Grecale, common during incursions of Arctic air, when the cold air flowing over the warmer Tyrrhenian sea triggers the formation of low pressures, draining the colder and heavier air trapped in the Po Valley, behind the Apennine Mountains.
|Climate data for La Spezia|
|Average high °C (°F)||11.0
|Average low °C (°F)||4.2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||120
|Source: Enea"La Spezia weather averages". Enea. Retrieved 2012.|
Today, La Spezia is the chief Italian naval base and arsenal and the base for a navigation school. It is also a commercial port, with shipyards and industries producing machinery, metal products, and refined petroleum.
Since 2002, a university named G. Marconi has had its headquarters in La Spezia.
La Spezia is twinned with: