Lerici, a town located on the extreme eastern edge of the Gulf of La Spezia, is one of the best- known and appreciated places for holiday in the province of La Spezia, so well-known as to merit the title Pearl of the Gulf.
Already colony of the Maritime Republic of Pisa who conquered it in the battle of Giglio in 1241, Lerici came under the dominion of Genoa in 1256. As evidence of this past remains the ‘imposing fortress of S. George of the thirteenth century, a perfect example of military architecture.
The beautiful Baroque parish dedicated to St. Francis displays a painted panel depicting the Madonna of Maralunga, patroness of the village and of sea-faring people.
But Lerici is above all a place for the soul.
Poets and writers from all generations and nationalities were fascinated by what the English Romantics called the Gulf of Gods. Byron, Shelley, Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, all have dedicated poems and thoughts in this stretch of the Ligurian coast, so rugged and sometimes inaccessible.
“In Lerici a wall of blue wind separates us from the world,” wrote Francesco Tonelli, poet and writer from Lerici,capturing the true essence and the intimate magic of nature that surrounds it.
THE JEWISH CULTURE IN LERICI
We know that since the fifteenth century, a small Jewish community lived in Lerici because ,by consulting the historical archives , some names typical of the jewish culture have been found.
During the following centuries , this small group became bigger and bigger until the seventeenth century, when a new flux formed by Sefarditi ( from jewish language SEFARAD- Spain) coming from Livorno began to attend Lerici.
They lived concentrated in what is now called VIA DEL GHETTO which , at the beginning , was a Giudecca and not a Ghetto as we intend now.
The Giudecca was technically different from the so called “Ghetto “because it was not an area of forced separation but a simple district similar to others where jewish families lived.
Only after the building of two gates , this area became “a real Ghetto “ and with this name was known by the Lerici community.
According to some scholars , the main activity of the Jewish community inside the Ghetto was the leather tanning. It is interesting to notice that for a long time Via Roma ,the main street of Lerici , was called Via della Concia ( The street of the tanneries )Another widespread activity was the one linked to the melting of metals , and probably an important group of jewish smelters lived in Lerici since the sixteenth century.
On 27th January 2013 during the “Holocaust Remembrance Day” , a commemorative stone has been placed at the beginning of the Via del Ghetto to remember not only the jewish presence in Lerici , but all the men and women who , in 1946 , departed from the town of La Spezia to reach the Palestine and as a sign of gratitude changed the name of Spezia in “Shaar Zion” the Door of Sion.