Lerici is flanked by areas all too well-known to foreign travelers. To the south, the flashy Tuscan resort towns of Versilia boast miles of sandy beaches crammed with pasty northern Europeans and bronzed Italians alike. And a few miles to the north is the Cinque Terre, five cliff-clinging hamlets connected by narrow footpaths that are overrun with Americans.
In fact, Lerici holds much of the same appeal as its more popular neighbors, with beautiful swaths of beach and miles of hiking trails with photogenic vistas, minus the suffocating crowds. The imposing medieval castle that looms above Lerici's main piazza is the town’s defining feature, but the scenic mile-and-a-half-long promenade that stretches along the waterfront is its most dazzling. After passing boats bobbing lazily in the harbor and tracts of enormous rocks where sunbathers lie like sea lions, the promenade winds past a string of beaches en route to a smaller stone castle that anchors the neighboring village of San Terenzo.
South of Lerici, a narrow serpentine road - convex mirrors at every turn - snakes above the coastline, past hillside olive groves and the tiny town of Fiascherino, before dead-ending in the charming village of Tellaro. The clifftop route is vaguely reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast, with stunning views of turquoise sea and rugged shoreline around each corner. Taken together, the four towns of Lerici, San Terenzo, Fiascherino and Tellaro - a Quattro Terre, if you must - form the eastern edge of the Gulf of La Spezia, also known as the Golfo dei Poeti, the Poets' Gulf.
Res publica 18.06.10