Just last week, the beautiful region of Liguria hosted the Sanremo Music Festival, a tradition that has been celebrated every year since 1951. We thought it would be fun to retrace the history of this famous Italian event, and to tell you a bit more about the narrow region that stretches between the Alps and the Ligurian Sea.


After the end of World War II, most Italians preferred listening to regional music in their own local dialect, or appreciated international music like Latin American rhythms and Broadway songs. Italian music was snobbed and misunderstood.

This cultural fragmentation, coupled with the need of re-launching the image of Italian cities destroyed by the bombings, led industrialist Pier Busseti to conceive a festival that would boost the national spirit through music. The first edition took place in 1951 in Sanremo’s Casino, which was managed by Busseti himself, and was aired on the radio.

The music festival, which was born almost by chance and in the general indifference, was an immediate success among the public. The songs exalted the homeland, the fallen at war, the family, love and suffering – and immediately became a symbol of Italian society at the time.

In 1955, the Festival of Italian Music lands on TV and airs on Rai, Italy’s national public broadcasting, and its success is huge. Here below is a fun video by Adriano Celentano, a famous Italian singer and songwriter (as well as actor and film director) who showed off his characteristic dance skills in the 1961 festival!

From 1977 until nowadays, the competition takes place in the beautiful Teatro Ariston, always in the city of Sanremo. This popular contest consists of acompetition amongst previously unreleased songs written by Italian authors. A mix of experts and a popular jury decree the winner of each edition, including a prize for artists that have already established themselves as well as young or emerging singers. Throughout its history the event has launched the careers of many Italian singers, including Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti, Giorgia and Gigliola Cinquetti. The Sanremo Festival was the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Now let us find out a bit more about the region that hosts the music festival: here is Italian Special Occasion’s treasure trove for Liguria!

Sanremo: The birthplace of the Festival of Italian Music is also known as the City of Flowers because of its important and famous cultivation of flowers. It celebrates this economic tradition with an annual event called “Sanremo in Fiore” (usually held in January or March), which consists of a parade of floats decorated with local flowers.


Prehistoric caves: Liguria features some amazing prehistoric sites, including the Cave of the Balzi Rossi Principe (near Ventimiglia) where a pelvic bone dating to 240,000 years ago was found; and the large Cave of Arene Candide (near Savona), famous for being the burial site of a 21,000-year old adolescent male (nicknamed The Prince) with a large number of grave goods.

The coast: The famous Cinque Terre is a strikingly beautiful coastal area that includes the five colorful sea villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, surrounded by lush nature and pristine waters. Liguria’s 300 km of coast also include other amazing sites, including the tourist resorts of Portofino, Rapallo, Sestri Levante and Margherita Ligure.


Eco-tourism: The Ligurian Sea attracts several specimens of sperm whales and dolphins, which you can admire in the area known as “Sanctuary of Cetaceans”. Furthermore, the extensive woods with centuries-old trees are a great alternative to traditional tourism.

Gastronomy: The regional cuisine reflect the true essence of the Mediterranean diet. Recipes rarely use pork or other meats, while they frequently use pine nuts, fish (especially anchovies) and dry mushrooms. The most famous recipe is the Pesto Genovese, a sauce that consists of crushed garlic, basil (rigorously from Genoa) and European pine nuts seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Planning a trip to Liguria for a special event? Let us share our expert knowledge with you! Contact Italian Special Occasions DMC for a customized quote

Photo credits:
“Sanremo in Fiore” floral floats
Cave of Arene Candide, Liguria
Liguria Sea: Sanctuary of Cetaceans

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