In the twelfth century Lerici was already a maritime port of call and an important trading centre. The three destinations of the middle ages pilgrims from the north in the direction of Rome and Jerusalem, and in the opposite way towards Santiago de Campostela, became sea journeys from this point. Dante references Lerici in his Purgatory, Bocaccio sets the last scene of one of his novellas here and Petrarch selects the fortissimus Eryx as the home of the goddess Athena, who discovered olive oil. The medieval town of Lerici is built upon the promontory which juts into the sea closing in the massive structure of the castle. It was fought over by the Maritime Republic of Genoa, which held the stronghold of Porto Venere, and by the Maritime Republic of Pisa, which, for a brief period (1241-1256), made it its most advanced outpost to the north in its defence system. The town was the place for important peace negotiations, economic agreements and the centre of the salt trade.
The fortified town of Lerici underwent numerous changes from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. In the beginning there was clearly the slim solitary tower within the perimetre of the castle and now the tower is made up of two buildings, an internal pentagonal one and a hesagonal one, separated by a space about two metres wide. In 1555, during the Corsican war – as the Turcs and the French were ravaging the coast of the Republic of Genoa” – as a few headstones document, extensions were completed and massive walls, in some areas eight metres thick, were built to cover the slender medieval structure. In the heart of the castle there is the austere chapel devoted to Sant’Anastasia, a precious example of the ligurian gothic architecture of the same period as the façade of San Lorenzo in Genoa; on its architrave an inscription documents the reconquest of Lerici (then under Pisa) by the Genoese (thirteenth century).
Luxurious accommodations with extensive beaches, and wonderful hotels, framed by the Genoese Castle dating back to the 12th century, are all good reasons why this little town in the Riviera di Levante is considered a pearl of the gulf. Chosen by D.H. Lawrence and the English Romanticists as their elected summer residence, today Lerici is the place to go for elegant visitors throughout the year. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the English poets Percy B. Shelley (together with his wife Mary, the clever creator of Frankenstein), and George G. Byron, were drawn to these areas not only to find physical well-being, but also by the romantic notion of travel for intellectual and spiritual fulfilment. Numerous poets and writers chose these areas through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The gulf of Lerici, initially a way-station for the medieval pilgrims, became a centre of art and the cradle of poetry, as a consequence in 1919 the dramatist Sem Benelli, who wrote part of his most famous work (La cena delle beffe) in the small tower of Villa Marigola, called it the Poets’ Gulf, the name by which it is nowadays universally known. Here in the nineteenth century the French writer George Sand lived a chapter of her love story with Alfred de Musset. At the start of the twentieth century the German Frieda von Richthofen and the English author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, David H. Lawrence, also found a haven for their love story in these parts. The same happened to Annie Vivanti with Giosué Carducci. This was true also for Gabriele D’Annunzio, and for the writer Emma d‘Orczy, author of La Primula Rossa (The Scarlet Pimpernel), who had the villa La Padula built at the Bellavista.
Hotels in Lerici
Via Carpanini 9, Lerici (La Spezia)
Two minutes’ walk from Lerici historic centre is Doria Park Hotel. Surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean gardens, this hotel offers panoramic terraces with stunning views and suites with Jacuzzis.
Doria Park is peaceful despite its central location. Stroll through olive groves and green lawns or just take in amazing views of the Gulf of Poets, the castle and Lerici’s old town from the panoramic terrace.
Feel free to take your time and relax at Doria Park; you can enjoy the hotel’s generous buffet breakfast on the terrace until 12:00.
The beach is just 5 minutes’ walk from Doria Park and boat and wind-sailing excursions organised by the hotel start just 12 metres away. The hotel also offers a free shuttle service to and from local train stations. read more…
Via Lungomare Biaggini 42, San Terenzo di Lerici
Hotel San Terenzo overlooks the Bay of Lerici and San Terenzo village with its 15th-century castle. It offers a panoramic terrace, private car park, and air-conditioned rooms with balconies.
All rooms come with free Wi-Fi, a minibar, and satellite TV.
You have excellent public transport links with buses stopping right outside the hotel. You can catch a ferry from Lerici Bay to the Cinque Terre and Portovenere. read more…
Via Carpanini 1, Lerici (La Spezia)
Enjoy stunning views of the Gulf of Poets from panoramic Europa Grand Hotel. Surrounded by olive groves, the hotel is just 200 metres from Lerici’s historic centre.
Set on the Maralunga hill above Lerici, this newly renovated hotel is linked to Lerici’s main square by a flight of steps. You can be at the seafront in just 5 minutes. Boat trips leave from just 12 metres away and are run daily.
Family-run, Europa Grand Hotel provides generous services including free on-site parking, free shuttle transfers to the beach and rail station as well as other local areas.
Affordable internet access is provided via an internet point in the lobby and Wi-Fi.
The Europa has a lovely sea-view terrace, perfect for enjoying a few drinks and watching the sun set. Inside relax in the lounge or bar.
Roll out of bed whatever time you like at the Europa; the hotel’s award-winning breakfast is served at from 06:30 until 12:00 and can even be served directly in your room. Enjoy a large array of fresh, local products. read more…
Via Della Libertà 22, Cerri Di Arcola
The hotel, situated on a hill in the secluded, ancient village of Cerri, overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and is ideal for those who long to immerse themselves in nature.
Guests can benefit from the fresh and mild climate whilst making the most of the easy access to a variety of local attractions, including the bathing structures in nearby Lerici, the sandy beaches of Marinella and the beautiful Palmaria Island, which can be reached by boat. read more…
Lungomare Biaggini 35, Lerici
Hotel Florida enjoys a beachfront location around 10 minutes’ stroll from Lerici and San Terenzo. Expect great facilities such as a rooftop terrace and free Wi-Fi internet.
Well-equipped beaches are located just across the road in front of Hotel Florida Lerici. Enjoy beautiful views of the Gulf of Poets from some of the rooms and the sun terrace.
Hotel Florida’s air-conditioned rooms feature stylish, contemporary décor and have satellite TV, Wi-Fi, and their own balconies. There is also an internet point at reception.
Go for a walk into Lerici, or dine at one of the restaurants close by Hotel Florida Lerici. Breakfast is a generous selection of meats, cheeses and homemade pastries, served from 07:00 until 10:00. read more…
Gerini 37, Lerici
Since 1990 Hotel del Golfo offers comfortable accommodation in Lerici. Friendly and comfortable this 2-star establishment is family managed
Situated in a central but quiet and shady area, 150 metres from the beach, Hotel del Golfo is ideal place for a beautiful holiday in the Gulf of Poets area.
Just 200 metres from the hotel, there are boat departing for Portovenere and the Cinque Terre.
The hotel has 20 rooms with all modern facilities, it has a lift and parking for 10 cars. read more…