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Fortresses in the territory of La Spezia

Sarzana (La Spezia), Sarzanello Fortress
Sarzana (La Spezia), Sarzanello Fortress

The Fortress of Sarzanello is a military fortification built on the Sarzanello Hill, near Sarzana, and dominates the Val di Magra from above. Due to their strategic positioning, Sarzana and its territory were always at the centre of political–military disputes, and the structure of the Fortress reveals the continuous transformations that it underwent as a military structure in largely continuous use.

A fortified settlement already existed at the end of the tenth century, as evidenced by the diploma of the emperor Otto I of Saxony, conceded in 963 to the bishop of Luni as guarantee of his possessions. Between the tenth and thirteenth century, the fortified nucleus enclosed within it the military tower, the palazzo with a portico, the granary and a few houses. The Lucca captain Castracani degli Antelminelli also stayed there at various times between 1314 and 1328. In 1487, with Genoa defeated, the Signoria of Florence came into possession of Sarzana and Sarzanello. The Medici, given the strategic position of the city, decided to radically restructure the defensive apparatus and awarded the project to Francesco di Giovanni, called Francione, together with Luca del Caprina. Work began in 1493 and concluded in 1502, and entailed the demolition of the medieval keep. The structure was again reorganized at the beginning of the eighteenth century, this time by the French, and later – for security reasons – the settlement around the castle was demolished and the inhabitants forced to move elsewhere. During the years of Napoleonic domination, the entire fortress ran the risk of being demolished, but the project was never carried out.

It played its role as a military fortress with the aims of defence and control of the surrounding valley until the end of World War II. In the second half of the twentieth century it was submitted to a major restoration campaign, after which it was opened to the public.  Currently, it hosts educational workshops for students, art exhibitions, conferences, entertainment events and historical re–enactments, including the Napoleon Festival.

Near Portovenere, in Le Grazie, one instead finds the fort of the Castellana, built in the Napoleonic period as a secondary element in the grandiose project for the building of a military arsenal in the bay of the Grazie, which included the new connection road between La Spezia and Portovenere. The fort, even though left unfinished, was also used during World War II and still belongs to the Marine Military.

Fortress of Sarzanello
via alla Fortezza
Locale: Sarzanello
Sarzana (La Spezia)

The fortress is open according to the following schedule
June: Monday through Friday 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 4 PM to 6 PM; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:30 PM to 7 PM; guided visits Sundays and holidays, afternoons every 30 minutes
July to September: every day 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 5 PM to 7 PM, guided visits Saturday, Sunday and holidays every 30 minutes
March to May: Monday through Friday 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 3 PM to 5 PM; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 3 PM to 5:30 PM , guided visits Sundays and holidays, afternoons every 30 minutes
October to February: Saturday, Sunday and holidays 3 PM to 5 PM

Admission ticket: full 3.50 euros; reduced (up to 14 years of age, over 65, groups of more than 20 people) 3.00 euros; free admission for children up to 6 years old, working guides and attendants
Adult groups: admission with guide service 4 euros; admission without guide service 3 euros
School groups: admission with guide service 3.50 euros; admission without guide service 2.5 euros
Group is understood to mean 20 paying people. For groups of fewer than 20 people, a minimum charge applies of 80 euros which includes admission and guide service. Free: working guides and attendants (1 per every 20 paying people). Groups may visit the fortress at any time and on any day, by reservation, or during public opening hours, without need for a reservation.
Cumulative tickets for families: 2 full entrances + guide 8.50 euros; 2 full entrances + 1 reduced + guide 11.50 euros; 2 full entrances + 1 reduced euro 11.50; 2 full entrances + 2 reduced + 1 guide 13 euros
The Fortress of Sarzanello adheres to the initiative promoted by the municipal administration of Sarzana for the elderly and children for the purchase of goods and use of services at reduced prices. Possessors of the "Carta giovani" and the "Carta anziani" are entitled to .50 euro off the ticket price, including guided visits and a 10% discount on the purchase of products on sale in the bookshop..

info line Fortezza +39 339 4130037      
Municipality of Sarzana +39 0187 6141      

Fort of the Castellana
Locale: Le Grazie
Portovenere (La Spezia)