If Piazza Europa is a square of unsolved monumentality, the building that houses the Chamber of Commerce must be especially blamed; one of the many built immediately after the war, with no particular consistency or scruple with regard to what already existed nearby.
In its place, a completely different building should have been built: the beautiful Palace of Justice visible in the image. Thanks to the continuous portico, the construction would have given continuity to the nearby Palazzo degli Uffici Government, also managing, thanks to the large arched glass window in futurist style, to harmonize with the more severely austere and rationalist forms of the latter, giving it back that linear elegance that today we are struggling to focus – certainly also due to the pitiful conservation conditions of the facade of the building, the current headquarters of the Revenue Agency.
The story of this project began in 1937, when the Council of the Order of Lawyers of La Spezia signaled to the architect Giorgio Guidugli from La Spezia the possibility of bringing together in a single worthy building (as was already being done for the Government Offices) all the judicial bodies. . Starting from the 1920s (and up to 1998), the court was based in the building that today houses the CAMeC. Already from the first conversion to a court, the capacity of the building proved insufficient to accommodate the various judicial offices of La Spezia (Corte di Assise, Civil and Criminal Court, Prosecutor’s Office, Magistrate’s Court etc.), which therefore had to find headquarters in buildings distant from each other. , not suitable for their specific functions, lacking the dignity and respect that the premises where justice is administered should possess.
The seat of the old court was born as a school and had not ceased to be completely, so much so that in the report that accompanied the project, transmitted in 1938 by the Civil Engineers to the Ministry of Public Works, the complaints of citizenship for having combined in the same building the premises where the new generations are educated and formed and those where the State punishes those who are not worthy of belonging. The same report also confirmed that the area facing Piazza Italia (now Piazza Europa) was chosen for this project, next to the then Palazzo degli Uffici Governativi (now the headquarters of the Revenue Agency), highlighting that it would be thus constituted in the new area of the city – and near the old one – that district of modernity which, thanks to the construction of monumental buildings, would have given prestige to the city itself.
The bureaucratic step following the Ministry of Public Works was the Ministry of Grace and Justice. The latter, having examined the proposal relating to the project and the related financial burden (Lire 7,250,000), observed that due to the scarcity of the resources provided by Finance and given the prevailing needs of other major Judicial Centers, it did not seem that the construction of a building in La Spezia responded to reasons of absolute necessity and urgency, such as to justify such an undertaking. In an attempt to meet the aspirations of the City, the same Ministry of Grace and Justice suggested to the Municipality of La Spezia the study of an alternative solution to the problem of concentrating the aforementioned Judicial Offices in a single suitable building, to be purchased or rented or arranged for care and expenses of the Municipality itself.
In an article that appeared in 1953 on The Tyrrhenian Sea, Guidugli himself concluded the reconstruction of the story, believing, with a note of bitterness, that the practice had remained firm and that the project was in the works division of the Ministry of Grace and Justice. In the meantime, the block of Piazza Europa destined for the Palace of Justice had been occupied by the building of the Chamber of Commerce, subtracting once and for all the area destined for the future seat of the court from the monumental district of the new city.
We know very little about Giorgio Guidugli, the architect who carried out the project. Yet, all the people of La Spezia know by heart at least two of the buildings he designed in collaboration with Raffaello Bibbiani, towards the end of the 1920s: the decò skyscraper in via Veneto (corner via Tolone); and the San Pietro inn in Portovenere, currently undergoing a restoration that will restore its ancient hotel vocation. To see two buildings entirely designed by Guidugli, we recommend Palazzo Giachino (1912) at the beginning of via Veneto (corner of via dei Colli) and the elegant villa Saudino (1911), in viale XXI Luglio in Sarzana.
The history of the project for the Palace of Justice, La Spezia Chronicle, Il Tirreno, Guidugli G., January 15, 1953
The character of Liberty in the Spezzina Architecture of the twentieth century, Scandellari V., Centro Studi Val di Vara, 1989