History in La Spezia

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La Spezia history can be traced back to the 12th century, although remains of ancient Rome take it even earlier. Founded in 1160, the city was the site of the decisive battle between the Fieschi family and the Doria and Spinoli families for control of Liguria. Afterwards, the town was included in the Republic of Genoa where it had defensive walls built at the end of the 14th century. It would remain under Genoan control until 1797.

French Rule

As the French came to rule the area in the early 19th century, La Spezia was made the capital of the province of Sardenia. In 1861, the town started constructing a military arsenal which would become one of the top ports in Italy. The small fishing village would become a modern city, bringing many maritime jobs to the area.

Times of War

The shipyard constructed some submarines and battleships during World War I, but construction stopped after the war. The port remained, however, and during World War II, the Germans used the port as a base for U-boat operations in the Mediterranean. As the war waned, it was used as a departure point for concentration camp survivors. Over 23,000 Jewish survivors traveled through La Spezia, giving it the nickname "Door to Sion" on most Jewish maps.

La Spezia was rebuilt after Allied forces bombed it in The Great War. Thanks to its naval history, La Spezia now has a navigational school and is one of the naval seats of Italy.

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