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A model prison in Napoleonic Sarzana

Sarzana (La Spezia), Firmafede Fortress
Sarzana (La Spezia), Firmafede Fortress

The Firmafede Fortress was built by Lorenzo the Magnificent between 1487 and 1492, just after the victory over Genoa, and is an important example of late fifteenth–century Florentine military architecture. The structure remains in its original form, as emerges from the analysis of the final spending balance for the construction of the fortress, dating 22 May 1492. The Citadel has a rectangular plan and six bulwarks. There is a quadrangular enclosure around the keep, which is completely independent, and a larger courtyard to the east, allocated for the lodging of the soldiers and for the stalls. The main entrance to the fortified complex was through a carriage gate on the south side, with a corresponding gatehouse: access was permitted by a drawbridge, later replaced by one in masonry.

During the period of French occupation (1805–1815), the architect Maguin was commissioned to transform the citadel into a district prison and adapt it to the regulations introduced after the revolution that provided for better treatment of prisoners and assigned prisons the work of the correction and rehabilitation of detainees, with the goal of reintroduction into society. This necessitated setting up hygiene, social and medical care services, as well as the separation of males from females. The political events consequent to French government’s surrender of Genoa and Liguria (18 April 1814) interrupted the fulfilment of Maguin’s plan. Its implementation would have to wait for the Kingdom of Italy, a period when major modifications to the complex took place as a consequence of the general plan for prison reform implemented with decree no. 6197 of 20 June 1889, which provided for individual cells for detainees.

After a long period of restoration work, the fortress was reopened to the public in 2003 and is currently used as an exhibition space and for cultural events.

Firmafede Fortress – Citadel
via Cittadella
Sarzana (La Spezia)

Tel. +39 0187 614232
Municipality of Sarzana Operator 0187 6141