Borzoli

At the time of the Marian apparition, Rapallo was a very important centre of the Republic of Genoa. The territory of its captaincy included the Tigullio coast from Portofino to the border with Chiavari and a vast hinterland, and was divided into six extensive districts: Pescino, Olivastro, Amandolesi, Oltremonte, Borgo and Borzoli.

As the years went by, the ancient sestieri became smaller and took on their current nomenclature. Borzoli is the only one of them that has retained its name over time. The sestiere is largely located along the hills sloping down to the left bank of the S. Francesco stream, and has an outlet to the sea that includes the beach near the old castle, the fortress itself, the mouth of the stream, and the seaside promenade to the small jetty in front of the Martiri della Libertà square.

The religious centre of Borzoli is the chapel of its patron saint: St Bartholomew. It is a pretty parish church located along the mule track leading to the Sanctuary. Together with the Virgin Mary, St Bartholomew holds an important place in the religious tradition of the sestiere: his banner in fact depicts the miraculous picture given by the Virgin to Chichizola, the patron saint. It is also worth mentioning that the red colour of the flags and uniforms worn by the massari on feast days is reminiscent of the scarlet insignia characteristic of St Bartholomew. As far as the pyrotechnic tradition is concerned, as we have already mentioned, Borzoli has been ‘shooting’ since the beginning of the 17th century and with the birth of proper firework shows at the dawn of the 20th century, it was constantly included in the ‘palio dei sestieri’. The fires have always taken place in the spaces in front of the ancient castle, and special mention must be made of the ‘sparata di figgieu’. In former times, it was built in the bed of the St. Francis stream and ended with a spectacular ‘ramadan’ near the then existing bridge. The ‘panegyrics’ of the Borzoli district used to begin in Via don Minzoni, then moved to the seafront. Today, the ‘Panegyric’ of each sestiere ends with a grand ramadan at the statue of Christopher Columbus. In addition to participating in the Palio pyrotechnic, Borzoli also organises the traditional ‘Incendio del Castello’ (Castle Fire) each year, for which it raises money independently of the money for the competition.

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