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date: 20 August 2019

La Spezialocked

  • Quentin Hughes

Extract

Fortified port on the Ligurian coast of north-west Italy. Lying at the head of a sheltered bay whose western shore is indented by several creeks, La Spezia affords safe anchorage for a large fleet in almost all weathers. The old town was walled by the Genoese in 1443, strengthened at one corner by the fortress of S Giorgio, a 17th-century square-bastioned fort that acted as a citadel. Napoleon Bonaparte suggested making La Spezia into a great naval base, but it was not until after 1861 that it became the chief naval harbour of Italy. The town expanded along the waterfront and the water basins with a gridiron of streets, protected in the 19th century by additional fortified walls designed by General Domenico Chiodo (1823–70) who also designed the vast arsenal, over 1000 m long and on average 750 m wide.

To defend the anchorages, forts and batteries were built on the promontories along the indented western coast, Fort S Maria being the most interesting. Designed to resist attack from the land and to provide a platform for numerous guns to bombard attacking ships, this is a classic design of a fortification consisting of a hornwork with its demi-bastions facing the land and a star fort facing the sea. It was built by the Genoese military engineer ...

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