The first historical evidence of Lerici traces back to the Etruscan period, most likely when the first villages were founded.
Over time, Lerici was utilized as a natural harbour first by the Ligurians and then by the Romans thanks to its strategic position.
During the middle ages, the bay served as a landing place and dock for the Obertenghi family and subsequently for the Malaspina family.
Lerici took on a very important role when Genoa became an independent marine republic.
After purchasing Porto Venere which served as a fortress to control the gulf of La Spezia, Genoa acquired Lerici after negotiating with the lords of Vezzano and Arcola, the local latifundists at that time.
In 1152, Giulenzio, Butafara and Girardo for Arcola and Guido, Bellengerio, Alberto, Girardo and Enrico for Vezzano
handed Lerici over to Lucca for the sum of 29 and 10 Italian Lire.
The document was signed in Porto Venere.
The settling of the Republic of Genoa in this part of the gulf and its expansionist aims, in particular towards the east,
gave rise to serious conflicts with the Malaspina family, who were defeated in 1174 in Monleone and forced to sign an agreement to surrender the territory of Lerici.
The prominence of the hamlet kept growing over time. Thanks to its geographical position and the absence of fortifications, it was the ideal venue to hold talks and negotiations to end the war between Genoa and Pisa. The peace treaty between the two republics was signed here in 1217.
The victory of Pisa over the Genoese fleet in the naval battle that broke out in1241 at Isola del Giglio, signed the fate of Lerici significantly.
In fact, the Tuscan Marine Republic occupied the bay and dock without encountering resistance.
Pisa tried to overcome the troops of Porto Venere but was fought back.
For this reason, a ring of walls was added to the fortification to better safeguard the hamlet.
Anyhow, the dominion of Pisa did not last long: in 1254 it was defeated by the Genoese and forced to surrender the castle and the harbour of Lerici.
Genoa further expanded the fortifications around Lerici and strengthened the castle.
The fortified hamlet was rebuilt several years later.
At the beginning of the 14th century, many scholars (on the basis of the powerful citation mentioned in the Third Canto of the Purgatory) believe Dante Alighieri passed through the town, even if there is no documentary evidence (as there is for Sarzana and Castelnuovo Magra instead).
The well-known Boccacian episode taken from the epistle of Friar Ilaro to Uguccione della Faggiuola, probably dating back to 1315 and related to the ancient Benedictine coenobium of the nearby town of Bocca di Magra, certainly represents a proof of the visit of this prestigious Italian poet.
Lerici’s fate was inevitably caught up in the conflicts that rose between Ghibellini and Guelfi during 1300;
they destroyed the town twice but could not manage to seize the castle.
By the end of 1300, it came under the dominion of the French.
In 1411, both hamlet and fortifications were sold to the Florentine Republic.
The following year, Lerici was reoccupied by the Genoese who ruled over it for fifteen years.
The town was eventually handed over to Alfonso V of Aragon.
During the second half of the 15th century, the town underwent various and successive dominations and eventually surrendered to Genoa in 1479.
Over the following decade, the castle (which became one of the Republic’s major strong points) was further expanded and fortified with a thick external curtain
wall to make it invulnerable to artillery fire. Source: Wikipedia