Liguria - Places to Visit - Sarzana
Population: 20151 Surface km : 34 Height: 21
The history of Sarzana is witnessed by fortifications that were built in various periods to protect this large town, which is excellently situated for agriculture (in the middle of a large fertile plain) and for commerce (on the route from Tuscany to Liguria and Emilia).
The "Castrum Sarzanae" mentioned in the diploma of Otto I (963), today's Sarzana, was built higher than the town itself, which began to develop after the eleventh century until finally becoming the bishop's see in 1204.
It belonged to Castruccio Castracani from 1314 to 1328 and was later the subject of contention between Genoa and Pisa, the Visconti and the Medici. The citadel was built at the behest of Lorenzo il Magnifico between 1488 and 1492 on the remains of the Pisan fortress of Firmafede.
This was the first of a series of extensions that fortified the rectangular fortress with the rising towers and large moat. The pentagonal town wall was built by the Genoese in the sixteenth century.
The cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was built on the site of the old parish church of San Basilio in the early thirteenth century: it preserves the famous crucifixion painted by Mastro Guglielmo in 1138 as well as some works by Domenico Fiasella.
The sober parish church of Sant'Andrea is situated in central Via Mazzini and is an older building: a marble christening font dating from the sixteenth century can be seen in the single nave.
Other historical monuments to be seen here are the tower-house once belonging to the Bonaparte family, the sixteenth-century Palazzo Roderio, today's town hall, and Palazzo Remedi. Every year, the streets of the old town are taken over by an antiques fair, which attracts professionals and amateurs alike.
The last part of the River Magra runs into the nature park.
The so-called "bozi", ponds that have formed in the basins created by an old furnace, have become a nature reserve.
The Vermentino wine produced from the vineyards on the hills of Luni is an excellent accompaniment for the local vegetable pies. The typical local sweet speciality is "spungata", made with jam and dried fruit.
Sports facilities include areas for regular and five-a-side football and tennis courts, an athletics track, swimming pool, horse-riding and archery. Sarzana was the birthplace of Tommaso Parentucelli, the humanist who was Pope Nicholas V from 1447 to 1450.