La Spezia's Lia Art Museum

Renaissance Art Up-Close and Personal 
Museo Amedeo Lia 
A man named Amedeo Lia loved La Spezia. He loved it as Isabella Stuart Gardner loved Boston, as J. Paul Getty loved Los Angeles, and as Albert Barnes loved Philadelphia. Thanks to Lia's bequest, an ancient convent in La Spezia, along the pedestrian Via Prione, was completely transformed into the fascinating Lia Museum to display his fabulous art collection. The Amedeo Lia Museum houses the personal treasures of an individual collector who had wonderful taste, deep pockets, and an admirable sense of civic duty.

Why would you go to a relatively small museum in a seaport town?  Well thanks, that's an easy question:

Picasso? Not even close. Pisa c.1275.
  • The La Spezia collection is one of the most prestigious in Europe because of the high quality of the 13th, 14th and
    15th-century panels. The breadth of Renaissance painting is yours to explore. 
  • In one museum you can experience painting, manuscripts, Roman art, ecclesiastical art, and more.
  • The museum is uncrowded, so that you can linger, explore, re-visit favorites, and wander. 
  • Few of the paintings are behind glass, and all are approachable. You are right there where you can see the brush strokes and really absorb the work.
  • There is an informative precis of the contents of each room in Italian, English, French, and German. You’re very welcome in this museum, and they want you to see and appreciate these fine works.

The highlight of the collection is, of course, the Renaissance paintings. There is a whole room of works on wood from the 13th and 14th centuries, which range from almost primitive depictions to sophisticated portraits in subtle colors with incised gold halos. These fondi oro (panels with gold grounds) are the most famous holdings of the museum, and alone are worth the visit. On the same floor, the next room moves to 15th century Northern Italian paintings, which segue into rooms of 16th, 17th, and 18th century works. What a marvelous progression! Works by Titian and Tintoretto hang beside works of lesser known but excellent artists, both Italian and northern European.

Madonna, Bambino & Angeli.  c.1475

Another highlight is the collection of miniatures, as they’re called, kept in glass cases in a darkened room. The ars minatoria was an artistic technique during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and takes its name from minium, the bright red lead oxide used in these paintings on parchment. These pages from medieval illuminated manuscripts are beautiful, both the paintings and the calligraphy are rich and evocative. In one case, there are four tiny paintings of Sir Lancelot saving Guinevere, jousting, etc.

There are other rooms of treasures, too – ancient glass, majolicas, religious articles of ivory, silver, Limoges, sculptures. No spoiler alert needed here, you’ll have plenty to discover for yourself.

Wood Statue, Madonna Dolente, Venetian c.1425.

Museo Civico Amedeo Lia
Via Prione 234,  La Spezia, Italy 19121 
Telephone (0187) 731 100 
Website is Museo Amedeo Lia 

Open Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 
Closed Jan.1, Aug.15 and Dec. 25.
The ticket office closes at 5.30 p.m.
Almost all of the museum is handicapped accessible.

-Full-price ticket  € 10.00
-Combined ticket  € 12,00 also allows you to visit the adjacent Museo del Sigillo (Museum of Seals), the Castle of San Giorgio, the Museo Etnografico-Diocesano (Ethnographic/Diocesan Museum) and the CAMeC Center for Modern & Contemporary Art within 72 hours of purchase.

Getting there:
Via Prione is a major walking street, with shops and markets, running along the eastern side of the business district. It’s a pedestrian only zone. If you are coming from the Cruise Terminal, walk straight inland to Via Prione. 

If you visit by train from Lunigiana or Cinque Terre on a rainy day, the Lia Museum is a five minute walk toward the harbor from La Spezia's Centrale train station. See our article Getting Around La Spezia.

Travel Tip_____________________________________________________________________
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Written by Martha