La Spezia local insider, La Spezia Stories, Sarzana

Napoleone, the emperor from Sarzana

21 Jul , 2016  

A plaque on a building tells of the bond between Sarzana and the Bonaparte, Napoleon himself mentioined it in his last memories. From exile to the control the world, the story of a family that departed from Sarzana


Today 21 July 2016 , the city of Sarzana is celebrating 551 years. For the occasion was organized a huge party, with a White Night with a Pharaonic program . There are many famous people of the past who could also celebrate this birthday. Among the many that tie their story to the the City of Sarzana, Napoleon Bonaparte is certainly one of the most famous.

The Bonaparte family, sarzanese by choice

Some are born in Sarzana and love it for life, others choose Sarzana as their place. The latter seems to be the case of the familyBonaparte.

According to a tradition accepted and supported by Napoleon himself, the Bonaparte are originating in Florence , and at the time of the wars between the Guelphs and Ghibellines sided with the Hhibellini . In the thirteenth century, when the Guelphs took control of Florence, the Bonapartes were thus forced to exile </ strong>.

The exile took them first to San Miniato, then to Sarzana . In Sarzana historic documents , the first Bonaparte quoted is Gianfardo , registered as Bonapars (the family tree reconstruction is still uncertain and some say that this link has been forcibly pushed by Napoleon himself, desperate to find an area of nobility).


From Sarzana to Corsica: an ascent due to important weddings

Gianfardo Bonaparte – founder of the Bonaparte family in Sarzana – was a notary very active in the thirteenth century in Sarzana. No less active, thanks to the importane assumed by the ancestor, were his descendants.

Decade after decade, and thanks to well calibrated weddings, the Bonaparte gained more and more power , intermarrying with Calandrini , that family that could count a Pope (Nicholas V Tommaso Parentuccelli) and with the Malaspina (thanks to the marriage between Caesar and Bonaparte Apollonia Verrucola). Now prominent family of Genoese policy, the Bonaparte moved gradually to Corsica , first in Bastia (where Giovanni Buonaparte became regent of the city), and then finally in Ajaccio in 1510 Francesco Buonaparte occupied an important role for the Banco di San Giorgio.
All the possessions of Bonaparte Sarzana were abandoned in 1567.


Casa Bonaparte: still facing the street of the evening stroll in Sarzana

Although history has brought Bonaparte far to dominate France and the world, something of the link between the family and Sarzana remained.

It is the same Napoleon </ strong> to tell – during the exile – to his doctor the origins of the family, by entering the sarzanese life as a fundamental step of the dynasty ( Memoires du docteur F. Antommarchi, ou Les derniers momens de Napoléon, Saint Helena, 1819-182):

The last of my ancestors who lived in Tuscany had the same principles which I profess. They defended them like me and as I were victims. The alien faction managed to win; The National Party was defeated, banished; Bonaparte went to seek asylum in Sarzana, then in Corsica. But family relations were not broken.”

In the streets of Sarzana instead the house that was of the Bonapartes remains. The Bonaparte tower house is located in the first section of the central Via Mazzini, a few steps before the ancient church of Sant’Andrea. Covered in marble at the bottom, with its two elegant arches, the building was owned by the Bonaparte family. Today, a plaque commemorates the link between the town of Sarzana and the Bonapartes , who welcomed them in exile and from where they left for world domination.


Bonaparte house in Sarzana. Overlooking the central Via Mazzini, the elegant tower house belonged to the family from which perhaps comes down Napoleon. Photo:


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