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

The small historical centre of Sarzana, clearly recognizable amidst the more recent constructions, opens its treasures to visitors as they walk through its streets: an antiquity of walls and traditions that acts as a resonator of Napoleon’s ascendency, that illustrious exponent of the branch of the Bonaparte family that left Sarzana, centuries before the Emperor’s birth, to settle in Corsica.

A city that brings a dowry of the exterior signs and ancient vocations of military undertakings, perhaps – who knows – transmitted through descent to Napoleon himself. The structure of the castrum was in fact surrounded at an early stage by walls to defend it from the desires of possession aroused by its strategic geographical position, testimony of which is still found today in the Medici Cittadella, the Fortezza Firmafede, the fortified walls and the Fortezza di Sarzanello high up in the built up area. And the strategic and military importance of the gulf of La Spezia was not underestimated by the Emperor, who in fact worked at length to devise an adequate plan of defence, which was realized, however, only in part. Toward this end he ordered a painstaking cartographic campaign led by Pierre–Antoine Clerc and collaborators that resulted in the creation of numerous maps of the western regions of the Gulf today held by Paris, Rome and La Spezia.

Every two years, the city of Sarzana holds the "Napoleon Festival", dedicated to the myth of Napoleon. During this event historical re–enactments accompany the celebration of Napoleon’s role in human history.