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Enjoy our Cinque Terre Walking Tours

Take a boat excursion along the
coast of the Cinque Terre

The harbour at Lerici, by

Lerici promenade, by 

At Sunset, Lerici Harbour, by

View of Lerici harbour




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Welcome to Lerici
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 10,802 (2004)
Official site:

South of La Spezia, about 12 kilometers, at the southern most end of the Riviera Levant is Lerici, a bustling little resort town whose waterfront buildings are tightly and pleasantly clustered around the small harbour, and the slopes leading up to Castello San Giorgio which, sitting imposingly on a high outcropping, dominates the town and its small harbour. 

In Lerici you can while away the hours strolling the promenade, or happily gabbing with friends in any of a number of good trattorias, cafes and restaurants either on the seafront itself, or on the streets and alleys nearby.  At the harbour itself, a ferry shuttles passengers to and from Portovenere, which sits astride a spit of land at the most extended tip of the Golfo dei Poeti - the Bay of Poets, and to some of the fishing ports of the Cinque Terre - a great way to visit those very popular places.

The main square and meeting place inside the town (and unofficial bus station) is Piazza Garibaldi, bedecked with a modern fountain where one can dangle hot feet into cool waters.  Once at the Piazza, one can ascend to the castle on foot (recently restored?) - just find the Via del Ghetto, which winds through an area once populated by Jewish merchants from Livorno, to the steep slopes of the Salita Arpara (the "place of nesting hawks) that leads upward toward the notorious castle.  It's a 10 minute climb.

The uppermost towers of Castello San Giorgio deliver stunning views across to picturesque Portovenere, the three islands that appear to bob in the bay, and back to La Spezia and some of its industrialized suburbs, which seem benign at this distance.  Inside the castle is a pretty Gothic era chapel of some interest, but also a seemingly out-of-place museum dedicated to geopaleontology - the history of dinosaurs in the area around the town.

The history of dinosaurs may be well known but the same can not be said about the earliest days of human habitation in and around Lerici.  However, archaeological evidence indicates that the area around the Golfo dei Poeti was occupied by the Etruscans as early as the 7th century BC.  Lerici was used by them as a commercial and military port.  After the Etruscans were conquered by the Romans, Lerici continued in that role for some centuries.  The Romans also built various roads connecting the other important towns in the area to one another and to Lerici and the commerce among and between the towns promoted a high level of prosperity for Lerici itself.

During the middle ages, both Pisa and Genoa became supreme maritime powers and Lerici's fate was caught up in the inevitable conflicts that arose between them.  In 1241, after the Battle of Giglio, Lerici was occupied by the Pisani who built the Castle and and a ring of walls around the town.  Pisan rule was shortlived - fifteen years later, the Genoese captured it and immediately began to expand and strengthen the castle and ancillary fortifications.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the town became an important shipbuilding center, and during this period many of the beautiful villas that still grace the town were built, incorporating Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles.  The old medieval walls were more or less torn down, their stones used for more modern purposes.  Later, in the 1840s and beyond, the vast majority of the citizens of Lerici were enthusiastic supporters of Garibaldi and Risorgimento that culminated in the Unification of Italy in 1860.  A number of Lerice activists were actively involved in the movement.

Today, of course, Lerici's economy depends on tourism and to be sure, during the high summer months, the town is shoulder to shoulder with affluent tourists.  Predictably, during the Season, the prices of just about everything rise accordingly.  So, off-season visits are recommended, both as a means of escaping the madding crowd, but also as a means of avoiding the high heat of summer.

Added by Vian Andrews, January 1st, 2007

Liguria Region
Cinque Terre

4405′N 0955′E


La Spezia - 11 km;
Vernazza - 35 km;
Levanto - 51 km;
Monterosso Al Mare - 61km;
Lucca - 67 km;
Pisa - 75  km;
Livorno - 87 km;
Genoa - 109 km;
Florence - 136 km;
Rome - 412 km


Tourist Office
Via Biaggini 6,
Mon-Sat 9AM-1PM; 2PM-8PM;Sun 10AM-1PM
Hotels etc
Hotel Florida

Il Giogo, Via Pettriccioli 44 - pizza and some very good pasta dishes.

La Picola, Via Cavour 60 - elegant, simple food, reasonably priced.

Castello del Lerici

Coat of Arms, Lerici, Liguria


The oarsmen of Lerici participate in the annual Palio del Golfo, a rowing contest held in La Spezia every first Sunday of August.


English writers Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley lived some three miles north at San Terenzo in an old boat house called Villa Magni.  Their boat was  anchored in Lerici.  Percy Bysshe Shelley was drowned in the Bay of La Spezia (Golfo dei Poeti) on July 8, 1822 aboard his boat.