It's an understandable oversight. Situated minutes to the east of Cinque Terre by train, and sidling up to the exquisite Lerici and Tellaro, this hard-working port town and home to Italy's largest naval base is routinely overlooked. But it's not only an affordable place to overnight if you're heading to the Cinque Terre, it's really worthy of at least a wander – the winding streets of the old town are hugely atmospheric and there are plenty of cosy trattorias showcasing the Ligurian kitchen's finest.
La Spezia's bustle peaks on 19 March, the feast day of the city's patron saint, San Giuseppe (St Joseph). Celebrations see a giant market fill the port and surrounding streets, and the naval base (off-limits the rest of the year) opens to the public.