Rocco Normanno, Amedeo Lia, oil on canvas, 2007
Amedeo Lia, a naturalised La Spezia citizen of Apulian origins, began to acquire paintings and art objects after the Second World War. This exceptional collector concentrated his search on certain artistic types and particular historical periods: fondi oro (panels with gold grounds), panels of the so-called "primitives", have been his true passion and still form the most important sector of the museum.
Federico Zeri, always a close adviser to Amedeo Lia, considered the La Spezia collection one of the most prestigious in Europe and even in the world, precisely because of the high quality of the 13th, 14th and 15th-century panels.
Amedeo Lia has however shown interest in a vast range of objects from different periods and of different types. The collection is arranged in the museum into clearly specific sectors, according both to the physical spaces of the building, the 17th-century convent of St. Francis from Paola, and to the nature of the object to be exhibited.
The first room, formerly the convent church, houses religious objects, in turn divided up according to type; then there are the miniatures, the archaeological sculptures, the picture gallery, the non-religious objects and finally, a true triumph of the senses, the still-life paintings.
The collection was built up from the international and especially the European market; most of it formerly used to accompany the day-to-day life of Amedeo Lia and his family.