One of the newest trends in travel is lighthouse spotting: visiting, learning about and photographing lighthouses and seaside signal lights. Tuscany boasts many of these structures, located in some of the most evocative places along the coast.
The practice, widespread in Northern Europe, where lighthouses have always been “cult objects,” recently came to Italy, where our shores offer interesting sites for visitors. Seaside signal buildings have always attracted man’s attention, and since Antiquity, lighthouses have represented a characteristic element of the coastal landscape, with their high towers standing over the waves. In Ancient Greece, fires at the peaks of coastal cliffs were even used; indeed in the 19th book of Illiad, Homer compared Achilles’s shield to the fire that was lit to indicate the route for sailors.
Most of the light towers in the Archipelago and along the Tuscan coast were built after the Unification of Italy, when the newly-established government realized that there was a need to protect navigation along the peninsula, creating something of a belt of light that stretched to the islands off the coast of Tuscany, the shallows and smaller islands as well.
The lighthouses described here are managed by the Ministry of Defense and the Italian Navy, under the auspices of the Comando Zona dei Fari e dei Segnalamenti Marittimi Alto Tirreno (MARIFARI La Spezia), and are generally closed to the public. The cultural association Mondo dei Fari, in collaboration with the Navy, organizes some events that include the opening of a few of these lighthouses.