Sarzana (pronounce: sar’dza:na) is a town located in eastern Liguria, very close to the Tuscany. It is a very picturesque town that is much more similar to the Tuscan towns than to the Ligurian towns. This characteristic makes it very unique and worth visiting.
How to reach Sarzana?
– by car
- A12 motorway – it is very easy. You only have to exit at the Sarzana motorway exit. More details here.
- by other roads :
– SS1 Aurelia – from Pisa follow the road signs to Genoa and from La Spezia follow the road signs to Sarzana.
– SR62 – from Parma follow the road signs to La Spezia.
– by train – in Sarzana is a small but quite important railway station. Here stops the trains direct to Parma, La Spezia, Genoa and Pisa. It makes quite easily reach the town with this mean of transport. More details here.
– by bus – from La Spezia the lines: L/S, Via Autostrada and Via Ceparana. More details here.
The town was founded in a very strategical place and from the very beginning became a very important town. The first documents about Sarzana come from the X century. However, it is sure that the town existed in Neolithic Age! During the XIV century, Sarzana depended on the Republic of Pisa and then in the XVI century depended on the Republic of Genoa. In 1861 became a part of United Italy.
The things to see & do :
The old town of Sarzana is located very closed to the railway station. You can recognise it very easily because its Medieval walls and defensive towers are still visible. The old town is very well-preserved. You can enter it through one of its two, Medieval gates.
Porta Romana & Porta Parma (Romans Gate & Parmas Gate)
Porta Romana is located south of the old town. The name of the gate indicates a direction to the capital of Italy: Rome. This gate is richly decorated and very well visible. On the opposite side of the old town, you can find the Porta Parma. Nowadays it is still visible but it is inserted into other houses.
After Porta Romana, you can turn right to via Cittadella. This street leads you to a local fortress.
Fortezza Firmafede (Fortress Firmafede )
Address: Via Cittadella
The opening hours and opening days depend on the season.
More details here.
Entrance: 4€; 3€ reduced-price ticket
Entrance museum of the fortress: 8€; 6€ reduced-price ticket
The fortress was built in the XIII century and it was the first fortification of Sarzana. Then it was rebuilt in the XIV century by Lorenzo de Medici and after that, the fortress and the whole town was bought by the Republic of Genoa. Nowadays it hosts a Museum of the Fortresses of Sarzana and the exhibitions of the local artists.
Piazza Matteotti (Matteotti Square)
If you go straight ahead from the fortress (along via Fiasella) you arrive in a main square of the town, Piazza Matteotti. Here you can sit and take a rest. It is a very peaceful and pleasant place.
Palazzo Roderio (Roderio Palace)
Next, to the square, you can see a beautiful building where nowadays is located town hall. If you enter its atrium you can admire a fantastic and unexpected collection of the antique sculptures and columns. Really amazing and free of charge.
Walking through the narrow streets of the old town it is worth seeing also one of the local churches:
Pieve di Sant’Andrea (Saint Andrew’s Church)
It is the oldest church of Sarzana. It was probably built in the X or in the XI century. Inside you can admire the beautiful sculptures made from marble from the XIV and XV century.
- One of the most important documents of the town comes from 1306. It is a power of attorney of Dante Alighieri for sign a treaty of peace between Sarzana and Luni (more about Luni here). The documents approve the presence of Dante during his long exile and they are extremely unique. Especially cause, even if the exile of Dante lasted 20 years, we don’t know much about that period of his life. Apart from Sarzanas stay it is sure that he stayed also in Ravenna (where he died).
- A characteristic of Sarzana is that all its defensive towers are inhabited! It is quite funny to see the modern houses inside the Medieval, defensive buildings 😉
- Soffitta in Strada is a flea market that is organized in the streets of the old town of Sarzana. You can find here all type of old and used things. Pieces of furniture, clothes, books, and much more. It is organized 3-4 times a year.
Sarzana is not so touristic as the nearby Cinque Terre, but I believe it is a great alternative place to visit!
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