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The Naval Technical Museum

In 1869 the Navy inaugurated in La Spezia the largest Arsenal ever built in Italy. 

The idea of militarily equipping the Gulf of La Spezia was initially of Napoleon, but only with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, the idea became a real project, and it became real thanks to Domenico Chiodo, officer of the Royal Navy of the Corps of the Maritime Military Genius. 

The reason why to choose the Gulf of Poets it’s clear: a series of high hills surround the inlet and its fortifications make the Arsenal impregnable, favouring the birth of a military industrial centre of primary importance.



Italian warships were recognized worldwide for their excellent technical standards.

In 1865, the battleship Palestro was the first ship to be built in La Spezia in the shipyard of San Bartolomeo, while from 1871 they began to set up gunboats, battleships and submarines. When they began to build larger ships, the ports were adapted, as for the battleships Regina Margherita, Regina Elena and Cavour.

The rifles, mortars and cannons on display are a strong testimony of the weapons and artillery who made the history from Risorgimento onwards. Several vents date back to the Middle Ages, Abyssinian rifles with ivory decorations and white weapons come from donations from both private and navy.

The invention of torpedoes, a weapon typical of submarines, however, profoundly influenced the design of the fighting units of all Navies. This is because the torpedo could be launched either from a ship, from a MAS (Armed Torpedo Boat), from patrol boats or from an aircraft.

In the outer space we see real anchors and cannons of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, coming from the forts of the Gulf and the ships disarmament.


The Museum dedicates to the MAESTRANZE (the group of workers who work in an arsenal, in a shipyard), an amazing series of models of scaled ships: the result of the work of the excellent craftsmen of the Arsenal.

The first extraordinary example is the model of the Amerigo Vespucci: the most beautiful ship in the world, symbol of the Navy, of made in Italy and ambassador of UNICEF. Built by Head Worker Arrigo Chiavacci, its construction lasted well over 10 years!

In the central room is then exposed an original flagpole of the Amerigo Vespucci: the flagpoles are horizontal beams of wood (or metal sheets) that cross the vertical trees, to which they are secured by armor and maneuvers. The “Stralli” are the cables that support the trees.

All the models illustrate the development of the naval architecture from prehistoric times to the present day.

The oldest figures of boats are the Egyptian ones, built with the interweaving and binding of papyrus reeds and are followed by those representing the Roman ships, where you can see well the rostrum and the crow invented by Caius Duilius.


The Italian Navy was founded on November 17, 1860, four months before the proclamation of our National Unity.

A photographic exhibition testifies to the technological and infrastructural growth of the Armed Force, but also the extraordinary strength and humanity of the sailors: a strength both in the First and in the Second World War, still today they distinguish for their work, even in the civil field.

The Museum dedicates an entire room to GUGLIELMO MARCONI, the inventor of wireless telegraphy: the Marconi Room.

Inaugurated in 2017, the room houses the world’s most important collection of original equipment by the inventor, recalling Marconi’s fundamental contribution to the development of the RADIO.

Here we discover the original telegraphic tracks (zones), which report the messages in the Morse alphabet exchanged on July 17, 1897 in the Gulf of La Spezia, during the world first tests of naval radiotelegraphy.

Guglielmo Marconi offered and granted to the Italian Navy, who immediately recognized the unique value of his experiments, the right to reproduce, modify and use all his patented discoveries for free.


The Hall of Figureheads is unique in the world.

The 28 wooden figures are placed on curved beams that recall the streets of sailing ships and the position they originally had on ships.

Twenty-six of them come from military ships and have all participated in the events related to the Italian Risorgimento, even on enemy sides. Like the figureheads of the steamers of the Impresa dei Mille (the Deed of the Thousand), Fairy Queen, Lord Aberdeen and Cambria. Or the figureheads of the Bourbon ships, Partenope and Hercules, who opposed the advance of Garibaldi, “the hero of the two worlds”.

The oldest is Minerva (1783), belonging to a Bourbon frigate who fought alongside the English fleet of Nelson against the one of Napoleon.

The figurehead Italy (1860), portrayed while breaking the chains of slavery, recalls the unity of the Country, while Christopher Columbus, where the navigator is portrayed with his finger pointing to the horizon, is that of the ship of the same name, twin of Amerigo Vespucci.