San Remo Festival - an Italian Music Institution

The annual San Remo Festival promoting Italian music

The Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo  is the most popular Italian song contest and awards, held annually in the town of Sanremo, Liguria, with competition among previously unreleased songs. Hosted by the popular Italian presenter Amadeus, Sanremo 2020 kicked off last week with many guests performing on stage at the Ariston Theatre, including international stars like Dua Lipa, Mika or Lewis Capaldi and former Eurovision participants Albano & Romina Power, Massimo Ranieri, Ricchi e Poveri and Bobby Solo. 

Back in the late 1940s, Italy's economy was in tatters, and the country was searching for a new cultural identity. In collaboration with broadcaster RAI, the bosses of Sanremo's Casino decided to host an annual song festival  - then called Festival della Canzone Italiana (Italian Song Festival). The first festival was held in 1951, in the final weekend of January. The Eurovision Contest took its inspiration from Sanremo and kicked off five years after the first Sanremo Festival. The relationship works both ways - the winning acts at Sanremo usually go on to represent Italy at Eurovision in that year.

Many famous singers who won at the San Remo Festival, became well known artists in Italy and globally, such as Domenico Modugno, Adriano Celentano, Eros Ramazotti and Al Bano & Romina Power. It now has become a broader competition, also giving prices for new young performers. Thereby, providing a platform for new talent to present their songs and finding sponsors and mentors for them.

However, the Sanremo Festival is much more than just a singing competition. Over 60 years, the Festival has also become a style catwalk. year. Appearing on the Ariston stage are not only the songs, but the Festival becomes a showcase for looks and stylists. Obviously, this was not always the case;until 1960 the artists in the competition had no decision-making power regarding looks. It was the organizers who chose the outfit with which the singers would present themselves on stage. This changed in 1960, the first year in which each artist was authorized to choose independently what to wear during the event. To "take advantage" of that in that year, the artists Jula de Palma and Nilla Pizzi, spent close to 100,000 Euros each for their own outfits (jewelry excluded, of course), a lot of money back in 1960. But the Festival is also remembered for very particular looks, to the extent of scandal.

The Queen of disguise is, of course, Anna Oxa. Already at her first participation in the Festival (1978) was accompanied by an androgynous look: short hair, punk-style make-up and a black male suit, Anna Oxa then only sixteen. And of course, her performance in the 1999 Sanremo Festival, was also quite flamboyant, which she though won at. The singer accompanied the performance of "Senza pietà" with an outfit of black sparkling hipster pants which also showed her black thong! And the most recent costume scandal with Achille Lauro, who appeared in a nude-like body suit....But the 2020 winner was Diodato, performing his beautiful song “Fai rumore” in a black suit.

Sanremo - A must visit not just for the Song Festival

San Remo, is a well-known seaside resort in Liguria and famous above all for the Italian Song Festival which is hosted every year in its largest theater, the Ariston Theatre. There are many elegant buildings, including a lush promenade lined with palm trees, the L'Imperatrice, inviting for a relaxing walk, stunning churches such as the Basilica Concattedrale di San Basilica or the Chiesa Dei Frati Cappuccini and gorgeous gardens, such as the Giardini di Villa Ormond or  the Park of the Villa Nobel.  Due to its unique climate, Sanremo has a huge variety of exotic plants and flowers and special parks and gardens have been created over the century. Sanremo also has one the most important flower markets in Europe and hosts every year in March a flower parade, the Corso Fiorito.

Sanremo boasts a stunning Art Deco style, which is also apparent it its luxury hotels. Whether the Miramare Palace Hotel, The Royal Hotel or the Europa Hotel have fabulous locations, stunning gardens and pools. And obviously being at the Italian Riviera, the water views are stunning and there are many beach clubs along the beaches. Particular sights to enjoy include the Villa Nobel which was the home of Alfred Nobel, the famous inventor of dynamite and creator of the Nobel Prize. This villa is an elegant and imposing Moorish-style house built in 1870, chosen by Nobel first as a retreat for health reasons and later also to be able to install a study laboratory where he then gave life to his invention. The Sanremo Casino is one of the four large Italian Casinos and resides in an elegant Art Nouveau building, the work of the French architect Ferret. The casino was inaugurated in 1905, and the entrance to the casino is completely free assuming obviously an appropriate standard of dress.

There is no lack of fabulous restaurants in this famous city, such as "La Vita is bella" located in Corso Inglesi, close to the Casino. 

"Osteria Camelot" is located at the gates of the historic center of Sanremo in the ancient palace of the Counts Sapia Rossi, where the illustrious Napoleon Bonaparte was hosted in 1794. Camelot is know for its typical ligurian cuisine.


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