The Via Francigena is the historical itinerary that led from the north of Europe to the Eternal City.
Sarzana can be crossed following the Via Francigena in the stretch that goes from Aulla to Massa.
The origins of the Via Francigena date back to the early Middle Ages, around the 7th century, when the Lombards contended the Italian territory for the Byzantines. The strategic need to connect the Kingdom of Pavia and the southern dukedoms through a sufficiently safe route led to the choice of a route that until then had been considered minor, which crossed the Apennines at the current Passo della Cisa, and after the Valle del Magra he moved away from the coast towards Lucca. From here the route continued to the Elsa Valley to arrive in Siena, and then reach the Val di Paglia and the Lazio region, where the route led into the ancient Via Cassia that led to Rome.
The path, which took the name of “Via di Monte Bardone“, from the ancient name of the Passo della Cisa, Mons Langobardorum, was not a real road in the Roman sense nor in the modern sense of the term. In fact, after the fall of the empire, the ancient consular routes fell into disuse.
When the Lombard domination gave way to that of the Franks, the Via di Monte Bardone also changed its name to Via Francigena, or “road originated from France”, the latter name which in addition to the current French territory included the Rhine Valley and the Netherlands.