La Spezia naval museum
If the nautical yachter is a true lover of navigation, at La Spezia he or she absolutely must visit the Naval Museum. Patrizio has two exceptional guides: Alberto Menichetti (historian and voluntary worker at the museum) and the director, the naval captain Massimo Polacci.
When in 1958 the new museum was inaugurated after the war destruction, the general staff of the navy put stone-on-stone the indissoluble relationship between man and the sea beginning from the entrance to the building, where on the floor we find represented Noah, Jason, Ulysses and Aeneas ... from the Bible to the epic foundation of Italy!
Patrizio’s visit begins from a historical excursus devoted to the evolution of boats starting from the first navigators. The primitive raft “assembled” by Brazilian fishermen shows how man also succeeded in facing the water element using the simple materials available to him in very archaic times. As early as the 15th century BC the Egyptians had reached a remarkable level of technology, initially without the use of nails, since metal was still not available to them at that time ... Patrizio then dwells with interest on examining the ships of the Vikings, great navigators, who perhaps got to America even before Christopher Columbus. So we discover that the Viking ships of the 9th century were rather flat and low in the hull, with propulsion primarily by means of oars, at most helped by an auxiliary sail. Certainly they were not great naval engineers, but they knew nature, wisely going along with the elements, and above all their physical resistance was certainly not comparable to that of a present-day sailor! Among the subsequent reproductions on display there is also the mythical Kontiki, with which in the middle of the twentieth century Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific. A further demonstration of what can be done favouring and exploiting the strength of nature and the elements! What surprises Patrizio most, however, are the Greek-Etruscan ships of the 5th century BC: deep keels, perfect planking, modern ships! The Etruscans really were a people of navigators!
The Naval Museum is really great, and among the most interesting collections there is also a section devoted to the reproduction of the various models of anchors used in history: they go from primitive anchors, nothing more than stones to which a rope was tied tight, to Etruscan or Phoenician anchors, more advanced technically, with a form aiming to give a better drop on the seabed, and various technological solutions to make them solider!
From sailing ships to ones with mechanical propulsion, down to the modern ships of the military navy, a visit to the La Spezia Naval Museum is a journey in the history of navigation, in which every yachter or casual sailor can also satisfy personal curiosities ... Like Patrizio, who after looking once and again at “Master&Commander”, finally sees for himself a log and even discovers how it is used!