Fortress of Firmafede
Comune di Sarzana: piazza Matteotti, 1 - Sarzana (SP)
Telefono: 0187 61 41
Fax: 0187 61 42 52
Fortezza Firmafede Fortezza Firmafede

One village, two castles

The large number of castles that arose over the centuries in Lunigiana ensures that this boundary land and passage between the Riviera, Tuscany and the Apennine passes are among the richest. 

With the Liguria Heritage audio-guides you can admire the remains of the Sesta Godano and Riccò del Golfo castles, the tower of Framura and Vernazza, Vezzano and Castelnuovo Magra castles, and understand their structures and styles. You can even see the similarities in the structures and identify their function on the basis of where they are positioned.
When you reach Sarzana you will probably feel slightly hesitant because the structures of its fortifications, Sarzanello and Cittadella, have nothing to do with what you have seen or what you still have to see.

The story of a fortress, a castrum, or in general the defensive structure of a city, witnesses a part of its history. More than any other city or town in Liguria, the story of Sarzana is relentlessly marked by Florentine intervention which, even though dominating for a few years only, modified it relentlessly, giving it the aspect of the Renaissance municipality that can be seen in many other Tuscan cities.

The events lived through by Cittadella, which arose on the site or near the oldest Firmafede fortress, are the same as those of its neighbour Sarzanello, site of the primitive Medieval village of Sarzania.  We can, in fact, confirm that when the Signoria of Florence obtained the city following the war against the Genoese during the 15th century, the Cittadella fortress was selected as being more suitable for defending the expanding city because it was enclosed by the walls.
Cittadella and Sarzanello: it is almost impossible to speak of one fortress without mentioning the other. They were bound instinctively by the manner in which they were built, according to the will of those who commissioned the construction, and also by their defensive equipment, which attempted to move towards the forefront in the field of military art.

A Renaissance fortress

The fortress was built during the 15th century, in a period when the layout of the streets in the historical centre of Sarzana became as they can be seen today, closed in the pentagon of the walls wished for by the Medici family soon after the victory against the Genoese in the “Serezzana” war (1487).

The fortress structure seems to be rectangular to the eyes; the perimeter is marked by six great towers, four at the corners and two on the longer sides, features it seems to have been born with.
An aerial photo of the Cittadella, however, shows more clearly that it is the result of several construction phases. The first phase followed the desires of Lorenzo De Medici in 1488, with the best military engineers and architects chosen to replace Firmafede, the previous fortress built by Pisa during the 13th century and destroyed during the bloody war between Florence and Genoa for dominion of Lunigiana and its territory at the connecting point of fundamental road axes.

From the western side of the surrounding walls, passing along a narrow viaduct above the moat that surrounds the fortress, you reach the internal courtyard onto which the true fortified area opens. The area is dominated by the bulk of the keep, the circular tower that acted as the home of the lord of the castle in times of siege.

One addition to the Cittadella can be assigned to the period in which Sarzana was given to Charles VIII, the French prince whose descent in Italy caused a series of eight wars for dominion of the peninsula, which only the peace of Cateau Cambresis managed to end in 1559.

Just like Sarzanello castle, it was the Bank of Saint George first, and later the Republic of Genoa, that further strengthened the original structure, which from the 19th century until a few years ago was used as a prison. After this, the Municipality of Sarzana restructured the exceptional number and size of the indoor rooms for use as the Lunigiana Castle Museum.

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