Liguria - Places to Visit - Lerici
Because Lerici's history is lost in the night of time, we don't know precisely the year of its foundation, but its ancient name "portus liycis" that might derive from the Greek "Iliakos" (of Ilium, Trojan), inspires us to fantasize that its foundation derives from a group of refugees of the Trojan war.
And it can't be otherwise because the territory presents numerous analogies with the Grecian coasts and beautiful places worthy of Venus to whom one of its bays is dedicated. Lerici was a landing harbour for Grecian and Phoenician traders, and its history has never had dark moments, if anything periods still enveloped with fascinating mystery. The same mystery that enveloped the Etruscan's origin to whom Lerici was particularly bonded for its vicinity to Luni.
We know that in the VII B.C. the Gulf was occupied by the Etruscans ranging from Pisa to Capo Mesco who founded the city of Luni to which Lerici linked its history for many centuries.
Regarding this we propose some lines from Pantero Pantera, XVII century (maritime captain and author of an unpublished pilot's book that describes the strip of land around 1620):" Lerici, not a very big territory surrounded by walls.
From this land anciently called Golfo PortoD'Erice, since it was still called Porto di Luni, from a big city that was of the same name.".
Because of its importance as a port, Lerici was conquered by the Romans and used for military and commercial purposes.
Lerici was an important port in the middle ages, still linked to the dominion of Luni's Bishop: landing there were wayfarers, pilgrims and merchants that wanted to, through Sarzana's neuralgic knot, reach Northern Italy and Central Europe. A ramification of the Francigena door to our Gulf because pilgrims going to St.Jacopo di Campostela and Rome departed from Lerici.
There were also two Roman or romee roads departing from Lerici: one corresponding to the actual road that kinks Lerici to Sarzana, the other, dates back to the layout of the Aemilia Scauri then Aurelia, linking Tellaro to Lerici through a beautiful route amid olive groves and Mediterranean scrub that touches numerous sites of historical and archaeological importance.
Lerici was used by the Lucchesi for trading leather and cloth, then disputed over by Genoa and Pisa during the maritime Republic period.
In 1241, after the battle of Giglio, it was occupied by the Pisani who built the Castle and the walled-hamlet. After fifteen years Genoa conquered it again and expanded the Castle.
In 1528 Lerici was theatre to an event that changed Europe's destiny: it was between the walls of one of his palaces that Andrea Doria sought refuge and decided to pass from France to Spain, depriving France of its dominion over the Mediterranean in favor of Spain.
Between the 1600's and 1700's Lerici experienced its greatest urban development thanks to the presence of a noble ship owner that had his residences in the hamlet and to whom remain the ancient palaces and villas.
In the 1800's glorious pages were written concerning the palaces and villas, and regarding the history of the Risorgimento, so much that Garibaldi called its population "the strongest and most energetic of Italy".
Carlo Pisacane gathered in 1857 in Lerici eight of his faithful companions for a expedition to Sapri, but it was Giuseppe Petriccioli who impersonated more the Risorgimento's spirit raising the three-colors together with Felice Orsini and Carlo Pisacane on the Duomo of Milan after having battled at the barricades during the "Five Days".