Sarzana district guide







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Sarzana district guide                               (Back to Sarzana main information page)  

Inhabitants 19.744

Area 32,95 Sq km

Altitude 22 m. above sea level (ASL)

A12 motorway exit - Sarzana

Sarzana is the second largest town of La Spezia?s municipality. Its territory is much variegated, going from Marinella, tourist sea location at the end of the river Magra, also known for a Roman archaeological site, to Falcinello, on the top of a hill in front of Arcola.

Sarzana is a very old town and before year 1000 was known as ?Castrum? (The Castle).

Historically, the position of Sarzana has been indeed strategic as it controlled some important communication lines: the Via Aurelia, the Via Romea and the roads that led to the north towards Parma and the Po valley.

The city itself offers a great tourist experience. Passing through the urban growth you enter the lovely historic city center still partly located within the ancient city walls and delimited by two main doors: Porta Romana (XVIII century) to the East, historical entrance to the city, near the massive "Testaforte Tower" and completely realised in white marble, and Porta Parma to the west.

In between these doors we find the magnificent Piazza Matteotti with the Town Hall, the War Memorial, and some old buildings from different periods.

The city is full of charming squares, narrow streets, cafes, churches and monuments, as well as craftsman shops, bookshops and, above all, antiquarian shops.

The oldest church in Sarzana is Chiesa Di Sant?Andrea (10th century), modified in gothic and baroque times. Inside there are important sculptures from XVI century and fine paintings by Fiasella.

The Cattedrale Dell?Assunta  (13th century), a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style, offers a lovely rose window, some fine paintings, a carved marble altarpiece by Riccomani and a Crucifix by Guglielmo (12th century).

Sign of Sarzana's importance and wealth, the Cattedrale has a marble front with a gothic doorway. In the XVII century, two elements were added to the sides of the portal, harmoniously integrated with the original structure. The wooden ceiling of the cathedral is richly inlaid, while the walls are decorated with paintings by Fiasella, with sculptures by Riccomanni and with a terra cotta from the Della Robbia School. On the left of the altar, the "Cappella del Crocifisso" (the Crucifix chapel) contains one of the most important Romanesque paintings in Italy: a Christ by Mastro Guglielmo, dated 1138. Another chapel hosts a fine reliquary called "Reliquario del Sacro Sangue" ("Shrine of the Holy Blood"), where tradition says it contains drops of Christ's blood).

Along Piazza Mazzini you?ll find lovely Palazzi like Palazzo Communale (the town hall) from the 15th century on Piazza Luni, that was built in the XV century and heavily modified in the following century by the architect Roderio. In XIX century it was also added the terrace facing what is now "piazza Luni", and a small balcony overlooking piazza Matteotti.

Also of some importance are "Palazzo Podest?Ricciardi", neat example of neo-classical style, Palazzo Neri decorated by wonderful frescoes, "Palazzo Picedi Benettini", in late-renaissance style, and "Palazzo Magni Griffi", example of XVIII century classic architecture

Also, the Chiesa di San Francesco has some fine sculptures.

The castle that stands dominantly over Sarzana is Cittadella (Firmafede Fortress) which was built by Lorenzo De? Medici. The building has a rectangular shape, and is divided in two symmetrical parts. At the outer end of each of them there are imposing circular towers that overlook the nearby valley.

North east of Sarzana, not far from the town, stands the amazing Fortezza di Sarzanello (XIV century,) also named after Castruccio Castracani, erected on the hill where the bishop of Luni used to have his castle. The Fortezza was later taken by the people from the nearby Genoa and by the French.

The Fortezza has a ditch around it, towers and views. The building's main structure is an equilateral triangle with sides of over 60 meters, reinforced at the vertices by hefty cylindrical towers. Inside the triangle lies a square building which is the core of the fortress.

The Fortezza complex is divided in two parts: the "rivellino", that is the outer wall, and the fortress itself. These two parts are connected by a bridge standing in front of the fortress, which is in turn linked to the allure through a narrow bridge.

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