A visit to the La Spezia Naval Museum

02 Jun

The first day of May, Italy (as many other countries) celebrates International Workers’ Day. It means lots of political speeches in the major squares, concerts, unions’ marches and so on. It means also a day off….We took the opportunity and by train, with a couple of friends, we reached the city of La Spezia to visit the Naval Technical Museum of the Italian Navy Army. It was a rainy day, so it was right for an inside activity…

The museum, opened on May 12 1958, is located next to the main gate of the Arsenal and here were collected models, memorabilia, weapons, documents put back in order and completed with the help of the laboratory staff. In this workshop have been set up many of the models currently on display. The new exhibition‘s aim is to illustrate to visitors the evolution of the vessel over the years, and therefore the collection span from the earliest times till our age.

You can see hubby was not so pleased to have his photo taken…..he knew my camera was going to have a hard day of work….

In the entry, on the marble plaque: ” To those who in all times and of all races lost their lives on the sea for the mankind sake”

The first imposing object capturing the visitors’ attention, is the figurehead depicting Christopher Columbus as a young man, holding the globe with his left hand. It comes from the homonymous brigantine (1843-1867)  launched by the Shipyards of Foce (Genoa).

Below, a wooden “pettiglia”  (carved wooden planks that were placed on the side and outside of the gates of a protected ladder) fron the Custoza, whose name recalls the victory achieved by Radetzky on July 25, 1848

Below: one of the two caryatids from the sardinian frigate Italy, (former Neapolitan Farnese), depicting two women with a Roman armor, with cloak and crown. Presumably they were placed on either side of the existing officers’ accommodation.

Below, a Galeazzi diving suit for working in deep water

Two suits of armor of infantry of the Republic of Genoa, consisting of helmets and armor-plate, at the entrance of the rooms They are exposed torpedoes, block bombs from jet torpedoes, navigatori-class destroyers, depth charges, employed by the Italian Navy or from other countries’ Navy in the period between the end of the ninteenth century and the end of World War II.

The artillery room….

Again, some figureheads from various ships. Among them, the figurehead of the training ship Cristoforo Colombo (1928-1949); the great navigator is represented with his right arm raised to show the New World seen from aboard the Santa Maria.

A plastic reproduction of the Gulf of Spezia  (April 1863)

Below, the boat decoration used for Admiral services in the era prior to September 1916.

In the following pic, thee figurehead of the Neapolitan frigate Partenope, allegorically depicting Naples in the form of a thriving woman.

Below, the figurehead depicting the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, wife of Franz Joseph, murdered in Lugano in 1898. It belonged to the austrian paddle steamboat Elisabeth Kaiserin, built in Pula in 1889

Below: the figurehead from the Garibaldi steamboat Baleno, former english Fairy Queen, depicting Queen Victoria of England at a young age with a royal crown, and the figurehead depicting the goddess Minerva with helmet, sword and shield on which is reproduced a Medusa’s head; this is the original figurehead placed on neapolitan cessel Minerva. Between them,a  great fossilized anchor, origin unknown.

Below: the wooden coat of arms in from the Royal frigate Des Geneys, the last ship designed by Giacomo Biga, first engineer of our Navy.

Below, figurehead from the ship Dora, built by the British for Russia with the name Neva, then purchased from Marina Sarda (Navy of the Kingdom of Sardinia) for the Crimean War (1855): it depicts a woman holding a white rose in her hands, perhaps the rose of York. Behind this figurehead is placed a wooden coat of arms of the city of Genoa, perhaps coming from the Royal Ship Liguria.

In the corner in the photo below: the figurehead of the Cambria (the steamboat bought by Garibaldi in 1860 in England) depicting a bard with a long flowing beard, which symbolizes the country conquered by the Romans (now Wales); the figurehead of the Royal Frigate Beroldo (1828) representing the count Beroldo, founder of the House of Savoy; a dragon with woman’s face, possibly from the Royal frigate Regina.

In the below display cabinets, a significant outline of the evolution of the ships through the centuries, with models of great value

Below: the original lighthouse that worked until 1969 on the Island of Tino (Ligurian Sea), dragon figureheads and more ships models

In the photo below, the model of the cutter Frieda used by Emperor Franz Joseph.

Below:  the beautiful model, 1:50 scale, of the training ship Amerigo Vespucci, built in the laboratory of this Museum and faithfully reproducing in detail all the ship equipment.

Outside, the sky wasn’t promising good news…..

So we decided to reach the restaurant we booked, earlier than supposed….

After lunch, we had a little walk through the city, and we had the chance to admire some really interesting buildings. The rain became heavy and we decided to walk back to the station to catch the train home, but La Spezia is truly worth another visit.






1 Comment

Posted by on June 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


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One response to “A visit to the La Spezia Naval Museum

  1. Dee

    June 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I loved it! Thanks so much for taking the time. And as usual, I leave hungry.


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