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The gulf of poets

The Gulf of Spezia is a wide and deep bay of the Ligurian Sea whose name comes from the town of La Spezia, home of the one of the main arsenal of the Italian Navy.
At both ends of the bay are the two beautiful villages of  Portovenere and Lerici, both well-known  tourist destinations, where beautiful sandy beaches alternate rocky cliffs.
The Bay is protected and surrounded  by a chain of mountains, bounded on the west by the promontory of Portovenere with its islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto and on the east by the coast of Lerici.

It is for this reason that the Bay is exposed just to south winds and partly to the north ones and is rather sheltered from the most powerful winds of the south-west, ensuring a quiet non rough sea throughout the year.

The Gulf of La Spezia is also known as the Gulf of Poets.

It was the playwright Sem Benelli who baptized the gulf with this name on 30th August 1910 while living in a beautiful villa overlooking the sea in San Terenzo and working on his masterpiece “La cena delle beffe”.
In fact over the centuries many poets, writers and artists have spent periods of residence in the villages of the gulf, dazzled by the beauty of this “water amphitheater”.

Among the many artists who loved this place, we remember the writer David Lawrence, the writer and painter George Sand, the poet Lord Byron and the writer Percy Shelley. The latter had his last residence in the village of San Terenzo, seaside village of the town of Lerici.
The 8th of July 1822, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm while aboard his new schooner called “Ariel”, just in front of San Terenzo.
Among the Italian artists who used to live and work in the Gulf of Poets we remember the writer and scientist Paolo Mantegazza, the painter Oreste Carpi, poets Gabriele D’Annunzio and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the writer and director Mario Soldati who lived permanently in a villa at Tellaro where he died on 19th of June 1999 , the journalist Indro Montanelli who used to live in Monte Marcello and the poet and journalist Giovanni Giudici who was born in Le Grazie (Portovenere). Paolo Bertolani was born in the village of Serra and nowadays the town of Lerici confers him the honorary citizenship.

The patron of the Gulf of Spezia is San Venerio, whose feast is celebrated on September 13th  each year. On that occasion there is a suggestive pilgrimage by sea to the sanctuary located on the island of  Tino.

The Gulf  hosts major sporting events like the Palio of the Gulf which is a rowing race between the thirteen seaside villages bordering the coast which is held on the first Sunday in August, and the Byron Cup which is a swimming race covering the sea lane between the villages of Porto Venere and Lerici.

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