The birth and development of Sarzana are likely to be linked with the decline of the Roman port of Luni, which around year 1000 was rapidly depopulated following the changed geographical conditions and the formation of ponds and marshes, home to malaria disease.
For these reasons, the Luni people preferred to move into the nearby village of Sarzana, which resulted in its rapid expansion.
In 1204 the Bishop’s Residence was transferred from Luni to Sarzana, to which Bishops guaranteed a relatively broad independence, before the city was subjected to the domination of the various neighbour lords. Castruccio Castracani, lord of Lucca, dominated the city from 1314 to 1328; after various events, which saw the Pisani, the Visconti, the Genoese and the Florentines contend for the domination of Sarzana; the latter, in 1487, led by Lorenzo the Magnificent, defeated the Genovese.
Later Sarzana returned again under the rule of the “Superbe” Republic of Genoa, under which it remained for two centuries. This is why it became part of Liguria, despite its slightly different culture, architecture and traditions from the rest of the Ligurian cities.
Sarzana food, for example, is an evidence of the borderline nature of the city: influenced by Parma, from which over the centuries commerce roads of Lunigiana led to the sea right through Sarzana. Panigacci, Testaroli, the different kind of Focaccia bread are perhaps the strongest sign of a different Ligurian identity in here.
The date of 21 July 1921 has to be mentioned, in the history of Sarzana, as it saw the city rise up against the fascist violence; bent but not defeated, Sarzana fiercely renewed its commitment to the anti-fascist struggle for liberation during the fascism regime in many ways.