Sanremo, also spelled San Remo, is a popular resort town on the west coast of Italy. Sanremo is known for its casino, but there’s much more to see.

Sanremo is on the Italian Riviera between Genoa and the French border in the part known as the Riviera dei Fiori, or riviera of flowers. It’s in the province of Liguria.

History

Once the Roman settlement of Matutia’or Villa Matutiana, Sanremo expanded in the Early Middle Ages when the population moved to the high grounds. The nobility built a castle and the walled village of La Pigna to protect the town from Saracen raids.

At first subjected to the countship of Ventimiglia, the community later passed under the dominion of the Genoese bishops. In 1297 they sold it to the Doria and De Mari families.

It became a free town in the second half of the 15th century, after which it expanded to the Pigna hill and at Saint Syrus Cathedral. The almost perfectly preserved old village remains.

Sanremo remained independent from Genoa for a long time. In 1753, after 20 years of fierce conflicts, it rose against the hegemonical attempts of the Genoese Republic. At that time the latter polity built the fortress of Santa Tecla, situated on the beach near the port. The fortress was used as a prison until 2002. It is now being transformed into a museum.

After the French domination and the Savoy restoration (1814), Sanremo was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia. Since the middle of the 18th century, the town grew rapidly, in part due to the development of tourism: the first grand hotels were built and the town extended along the coast. Notable people, such as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria “Sissi”, Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, Alfred Nobel, and the writer Italo Calvino stayed here.

Culture

Sanremo Music Festival

The Ariston Theater hosts the celebrated annual Sanremo Music Festival, a very popular song contest held in the city since 1951. This festival inspired the Eurovision Song Contest, which started in 1956, and for years the Sanremo festival selected the Italian entry.

The internationally notable song “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu”, also known as “Volare”, was performed at this festival for the first time by Domenico Modugno in 1958. The festival is so popular among Italians that it is often referred to simply as “Il Festival” (The Festival). Other events include the Tenco Prize (autumn), a song contest for authors dedicated to the memory of Luigi Tenco; the Flowers Parade in January/February in which every city of the Italian Riviera presents an original composition of flowers displayed on a Carnival/Mardi-Gras style moving car; and the summer Firework International Contest in the second week of August also called “Ferragosto”.

Sports

The Rallye Sanremo is a rally competition that was part of the FIA World Rally Championship from 1973 to 2003. It was replaced by Rally d’Italia Sardegna on the island of Sardinia, in hosting the Italian round of the WRC. Formerly a mixed surface event (tarmac and gravel), the rally has later been an all-tarmac event and takes place around the mountains.

Sanremo is the finish of the classic Milan – San Remo cycle race (298 km), one of the five ‘Monuments’ of the cycling season. Milan – San Remo is traditionally held in March, and is one of the first major fixtures on the cycling season.

The famous local football club is the A.S.D. Sanremese that has played also in Serie B and in Serie C.

Cuisine

The culinary specialties of Sanremo and environs include Sardenara, Focaccia, Focaccia alle Cipolle, Torta Verde, Farinata and Tallesca olives.

Attractions