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San Terenzo

 

“Il Golfo della Spezia è suddiviso in molte piccole baie delle quali la nostra era di gran lunga la più bella…bellissimi gruppi di alberi erano pittorescamente contrastati dalle rocce”. (Percy Bysshe Shelley, 15 agosto 1822)

San Terenzo
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A few kilometres separate the coast of Lerici from La Spezia that for its parts becomes a forerunner, a school ship for non experts, a landmark with its Terminal Cruise, its Arsenal made of stones and metal, not to mention its culture and the museums, for those who do not know the Gulf of Poets and its charming neighbouring hamlets.

Moreover it is easy to become outsiders, non amitted as they say in English, because in this part of Liguria the knowledge of building, experimenting, and maintaining a whole ecosystem with the constant threat of mass tourism is not easy. It becomes a full time job, a sort of art if you think of it in a different way.

If La Spezia funnels the biggest part of tourism, unaware of a very close parallel reality, Lerici represents its final boundary, and its border is provided by a bunch of coloured houses built at sea level, that bear the name of San Terenzo.

Low beaches with light sand, you don’t even imagine out that you are in the East coast, a riot of young people and groups that have come here for ages, or lovers hugging and kissing under the sun, forgetting to put on some sun cream and getting burnt by the sun and the salty water;  lush and scented woods that form a back to the sea, thanks to its bark,  the vaguely Provencal chirping of the cicadas and the rustle of turtledoves and blackbirds in the early morning, always looking for food. Fruit grows well in this land, where plenty of lemon trees and rosemary bushes grow in abundance.

San Terenzo is a tiny, sunny fishermen village, dominated by an imposing castle. A few sun umbrellas and deck chairs, and many crops in the marina. The village welcomes its visitors with its scents and the lost sensation of the “Belle èpoque” period. The environment can only be partially considered as bucolic, for those who love big places it might not be ideal, as shops and restaurants are, for the great majority, opposite the sea and its sandy beach, just across the road. Let’s face it, people who love spacious places do not come to stay in Liguria.

For those who live or have lived in San Terenzo their whole life, everything is simply in its place, if you like so, because this place has a heart and a soul. Modernization can be seen in the smiling faces of those who come from Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna or even Veneto, that discover this wonderful place of the province of La Spezia for the first time, or people from La Spezia that often come here. It is funny to discover that San Terenzo existed in Middle Ages, as an independent hamlet with fishermen, sailors and winemakers, as well Lerici, located in an ideal route for commercial trades and pilgrimages, an ideological and enological must where to busk in one shot.

The simplicity with which we can move from one place to another, without forgetting the beauty of its sea, especially of its wildest areas, has certainly contributed to making San Terenzo an ideal stopover.

It is not hard to say that its merit is not hard are probably due to its treasures, and if we dig deep our ideas, feelings and emotions, there is something that we cannot measure when it comes to such a place. Romantic poets and restless souls came here to search the right balm to ease their concerns, a typical attitude of the Nineteenth century, and they have found it.

Whether this merit is due to the golden colour of the sun shining on the walls of the fifteenth century castle, that make this rocky spur the image of a safe defensive construction, or the position of the old summer residences owned by nobles and wealthy people, Villa Marigola and Villa Magni, built in different style and colour, but both with spacious areas, non properly made on human scale, or the fact that we can see the bell tower of the church of Santa Maria, from the shore, or the bells that ring at lunch time and mark the slow, constant cooking of a fragrant focaccia in one of the local bakeries, or the fish broth that only wise housewives know how to make, we do not know exactly what it is, nobody has understood yet.

At a stone’s throw from the village where people get tanned under the  hot sun, we find a lush vegetation with dwarf iris, rock roses and plenty wild orchids, these plants form the endemic flora of the Park of Montemarcello Magra.

Beyond the hill where Villa Marigola stands, we find the two main sandy beaches, that are partially free of charge. The soft sand invites visitors to dig their fingers inside it, maybe even the poet Shelley did so, while he was staying in San Terenzo, walking in the marina and breathing iodium and wellness. The promontory of Falconara softly embraces the colourfull houses that dott the hills, that look as if they are suspended between the sea and the blue sky. It is here that we have an idea of what it means to be in the woods, ans in its rich sea life, with many pools that the high tide fills with darting little fish and hard working shrimps.

Beyond the castle of San Terenzo, for those who do not know the local seaside language, we find the suggestive beach Marinella, a small bay closed in by rock walls.

During the Napoleonic period, San Terenzo acquired a certain popularity, especially among poets such as Shelley, his wife and Lord Byron that stayed at Villa Magni, located on the eastern part of the village, not to mention other famous guests Sem Benelli, Paolo Mantegazza, and Arnold Böcklin, who also stayed in the village.

Attracted and ensnared by the quietness and by the same good weather that reigned even in the past, we have to ask ourselves who are we to trust the pioneers armed with just inkwell and good hopes?

If the wise tourist looked with his mind’s eye in both directions, he would see on one side the fashionable Versilia and on the other side the windy village of Porto Venere, all this makes the wonderful Gulf of Poets. He would see Sarzana, with its paved streets, a town of art lovers and antiques shops, he would also see Valley of Magra, the generous mother full of leafy woods and extreme sport lovers.

Looking closer he would see Montemarcello with its foot paths, and the beach Punta Bianca in Carpione, so called because the coast is covered with limestone, jeweled with coves and suggestive slopes, and the river foot paths along the river Magra with its tributary river the Vara, or he could easily sit on a cloth towel, tasting Focaccia or as they call it here Fugassa, while looking at the horizon, that is not pale and wistful, but vibrant and lively thanks to its blue fish. While chewing and meditating he would lift his head and admire the porticos of Villa Magni, the oldest and most important banner of San Terenzo.

In conclusion it is not because of the narrow alleys of the small historic centre, draped with clothes hung on the clothesline to dry, or the ups and downs of the manor houses built along the hills, protected by sleepy cats or roosters that mark the hatch of hens, the sea, the castle, the nature and the quiet bay. Since the construction of San Terenzo, Villa Magni has been able to tell and disclose the story of the village in an unusual way, using the words of those who have stayed here in its rooms, using it as a free port for a journey that will be remembered for a very long time..

A few kilometres separate the coast of Lerici from La Spezia that for its parts becomes a forerunner, a school ship for non experts, a landmark with its Terminal Cruise, its Arsenal made of stones and metal, not to mention its culture and the museums, for those who do not know the Gulf of Poets and its charming neighbouring hamlets.

Moreover it is easy to become outsiders, non amitted as they say in English, because in this part of Liguria the knowledge of building, experimenting, and maintaining a whole ecosystem with the constant threat of mass tourism is not easy. It becomes a full time job, a sort of art if you think of it in a different way.

If La Spezia funnels the biggest part of tourism, unaware of a very close parallel reality, Lerici represents its final boundary, and its border is provided by a bunch of coloured houses built at sea level, that bear the name of San Terenzo.

San Terenzo

Low beaches with light sand, you don’t even imagine out that you are in the East coast, a riot of young people and groups that have come here for ages, or lovers hugging and kissing under the sun, forgetting to put on some sun cream and getting burnt by the sun and the salty water;  lush and scented woods that form a back to the sea, thanks to its bark,  the vaguely Provencal chirping of the cicadas and the rustle of turtledoves and blackbirds in the early morning, always looking for food. Fruit grows well in this land, where plenty of lemon trees and rosemary bushes grow in abundance.

San Terenzo is a tiny, sunny fishermen village, dominated by an imposing castle. A few sun umbrellas and deck chairs, and many crops in the marina. The village welcomes its visitors with its scents and the lost sensation of the “Belle èpoque” period. The environment can only be partially considered as bucolic, for those who love big places it might not be ideal, as shops and restaurants are, for the great majority, opposite the sea and its sandy beach, just across the road. Let’s face it, people who love spacious places do not come to stay in Liguria.

For those who live or have lived in San Terenzo their whole life, everything is simply in its place, if you like so, because this place has a heart and a soul. Modernization can be seen in the smiling faces of those who come from Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna or even Veneto, that discover this wonderful place of the province of La Spezia for the first time, or people from La Spezia that often come here. It is funny to discover that San Terenzo existed in Middle Ages, as an independent hamlet with fishermen, sailors and winemakers, as well Lerici, located in an ideal route for commercial trades and pilgrimages, an ideological and enological must where to busk in one shot.

The simplicity with which we can move from one place to another, without forgetting the beauty of its sea, especially of its wildest areas, has certainly contributed to making San Terenzo an ideal stopover.

It is not hard to say that its merit is not hard are probably due to its treasures, and if we dig deep our ideas, feelings and emotions, there is something that we cannot measure when it comes to such a place. Romantic poets and restless souls came here to search the right balm to ease their concerns, a typical attitude of the Nineteenth century, and they have found it.

Whether this merit is due to the golden colour of the sun shining on the walls of the fifteenth century castle, that make this rocky spur the image of a safe defensive construction, or the position of the old summer residences owned by nobles and wealthy people, Villa Marigola and Villa Magni, built in different style and colour, but both with spacious areas, non properly made on human scale, or the fact that we can see the bell tower of the church of Santa Maria, from the shore, or the bells that ring at lunch time and mark the slow, constant cooking of a fragrant focaccia in one of the local bakeries, or the fish broth that only wise housewives know how to make, we do not know exactly what it is, nobody has understood yet.

At a stone’s throw from the village where people get tanned under the  hot sun, we find a lush vegetation with dwarf iris, rock roses and plenty wild orchids, these plants form the endemic flora of the Park of Montemarcello Magra.

Beyond the hill where Villa Marigola stands, we find the two main sandy beaches, that are partially free of charge. The soft sand invites visitors to dig their fingers inside it, maybe even the poet Shelley did so, while he was staying in San Terenzo, walking in the marina and breathing iodium and wellness. The promontory of Falconara softly embraces the colourfull houses that dott the hills, that look as if they are suspended between the sea and the blue sky. It is here that we have an idea of what it means to be in the woods, ans in its rich sea life, with many pools that the high tide fills with darting little fish and hard working shrimps.

Beyond the castle of San Terenzo, for those who do not know the local seaside language, we find the suggestive beach Marinella, a small bay closed in by rock walls.

During the Napoleonic period, San Terenzo acquired a certain popularity, especially among poets such as Shelley, his wife and Lord Byron that stayed at Villa Magni, located on the eastern part of the village, not to mention other famous guests Sem Benelli, Paolo Mantegazza, and Arnold Böcklin, who also stayed in the village.

Attracted and ensnared by the quietness and by the same good weather that reigned even in the past, we have to ask ourselves who are we to trust the pioneers armed with just inkwell and good hopes?

If the wise tourist looked with his mind’s eye in both directions, he would see on one side the fashionable Versilia and on the other side the windy village of Porto Venere, all this makes the wonderful Gulf of Poets. He would see Sarzana, with its paved streets, a town of art lovers and antiques shops, he would also see Valley of Magra, the generous mother full of leafy woods and extreme sport lovers.

Looking closer he would see Montemarcello with its foot paths, and the beach Punta Bianca in Carpione, so called because the coast is covered with limestone, jeweled with coves and suggestive slopes, and the river foot paths along the river Magra with its tributary river the Vara, or he could easily sit on a cloth towel, tasting Focaccia or as they call it here Fugassa, while looking at the horizon, that is not pale and wistful, but vibrant and lively thanks to its blue fish. While chewing and meditating he would lift his head and admire the porticos of Villa Magni, the oldest and most important banner of San Terenzo.

In conclusion it is not because of the narrow alleys of the small historic centre, draped with clothes hung on the clothesline to dry, or the ups and downs of the manor houses built along the hills, protected by sleepy cats or roosters that mark the hatch of hens, the sea, the castle, the nature and the quiet bay. Since the construction of San Terenzo, Villa Magni has been able to tell and disclose the story of the village in an unusual way, using the words of those who have stayed here in its rooms, using it as a free port for a journey that will be remembered for a very long time..

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