The history of Ariston is inextricably linked to one and only name, that of the Vacchino family. The land on which the theater stands was purchased at the turn of the 40s and 50s by Commendatore Aristide Vacchino, whose father Carlo was one of the entrepreneurs who first in Sanremo dealt with the development of cinema representation, that brand new industry, that new form of spectacle for the people (and later form of art) that was gaining ground from the beginning of the new century. In fact, it was Carlo himself who in 1908 took over the former “The American Cinematograph” in Via Matteotti, transforming it into the first, historic cinema of Sanremo, the “Sanremese”, and on his death in 1918, he left in the hands of his widow Emilia and the young son Aristide the honor and the burden of maintaining the company and safeguarding its investments. Thus it was that, after the purchase in 1933 of the magnificent Central Cinema Theater , decorated by Galileo Chini, exactly thirty years later, in 1963, the construction of the Ariston Theater was completed, one of the most characteristic and representative monuments of the City of Flowers.
Aristide Vacchino’s intention was to erect a new large building that alternated between theatrical and cinematographic representation (in the years immediately following the war, the Italian cinema and film industry underwent a boom, reaching a splendor and an international prestige that did not would never match again). A building that, in particular, could collect the artistic heritage and grandeur of the historic “Principe Amedeo” theater in Sanremo, which, although owned by the municipality since 1877, had been managed by the Vacchino family for years, until it was reduced to a pile of rubble from a devastating French air raid on that fateful 20 October 1944.
The “Principe Amedeo” was never rebuilt on the surface it originally occupied (the area of Piazza Borea d’Olmo at the intersection with Via Mameli) for reasons of insufficient funds by the municipal administration. Thus the need arose in Sanremo for a new large venue dedicated to entertainment, which would compensate for the very limited capacity of the small hall of the Opera House of the Sanremo Casino .
Aristide’s idea came to fruition on October 31, 1952, when the requests for obtaining permits were sent to the competent authorities (the Presidency of the Council for operating permits and the Municipal Building Commission for building permits). The following year, on the area previously occupied by the open-air cinema “Il giardino”, the first construction works began on a large public complex designated for the show, called the “Centro Ariston”. In 1955 the contract was signed between Vacchino and a great friend of his, Antonio Marchetti, owner of the construction company Massa spa (later transformed into Marchetti & C. spa on the death of Giuseppe Massa). Thanks to the joint efforts of the architects Dante Datta and Marco Lavarello and the engineer Angelo Frisa, in 1957, on the roof of the building, the “Ariston outdoors” was started, while in 1962 the original “Ariston Mignon” was completed. (the current “Ritz”), a shell-shaped room with a capacity of 450 seats and decorated with metal bas-reliefs by the sculptor Edoardo Alfieri (1913-1998).
Finally, on May 31, 1963, the Ariston room was finally inaugurated, characterized by the extraordinary capacity of 1960 seats in the stalls, gallery and side boxes (no less than 16). The result is sumptuous: a stage 24 meters high and 15 meters deep, a mystical gulf capable of accommodating 100 musicians (according to tradition, demijohns and glass flasks were walled up under the orchestral pit to obtain a softer resonance), 30 dressing rooms and 3 large dormitories for dance, orchestral and choral corals. Without forgetting the ceiling, magnificently frescoed by the painter Carlo Cuneo (born in 1914).
The uniqueness of the theater’s charm and formal perfection is also due to the fact that the interior design was entrusted to the best experts in the sector: the acoustics were entrusted to engineer Franco Ravera and professor Gino G. Sacerdote, considered two luminaries. in the field, Argeo Raggi took care of the stage, the velvets of the curtain and the curtains were manufactured by Way, a company that supplied none other than the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and the Teatro Regio in Turin, the glass came from Venice and precisely from Murano (companies Vennini and Barovier) and the marbles directly from Tuscany, Piedmont and France.
On that historic opening night the highly anticipated film “Mutiny of the Bounty” by Lewis Milestone was screened, with the immense Marlon Brando, and the ceremony was also attended by the Sanremo Symphony Orchestra conducted by the unforgettable Maestro Carlo Farina with the soprano Isabella Doran and the tenor Salvatore Puma.
The opening of the Ariston was greeted with considerable clamor and enthusiasm from the public, the press and the builders themselves. Antonio Marchetti talks about it in these terms in a recent interview: “The construction of the Ariston represents, in my opinion, one of those lucky cases in which professional life and personal and family life intertwine pleasantly, leaving wonderful memories”.
It is also worth mentioning an article that appeared on June 2, 1963 in the Eco della Riviera, a newspaper so dear to the Sanremo people, which expressed itself in this regard: “The new Ariston cinema-theater had a public setting worthy of this Friday evening. internationality, and the wealth of marbles, lights, crystals, technical and comfortable equipment to which the opening evening combined flower trophies of inimitable beauty that from the entrance to the great limelight affirmed how this grandiose realization of the city of flowers was yes for the public international, but first of all it belonged to the people of Sanremo, for whom its creator wanted it. Commendatore Aristide Vacchino, on the fiftieth anniversary of his family’s theatrical and cinematographic activity, intended to honor his father and mother with this work, and returned, multiplied by a thousand, a leisure environment that had ceased with the destruction of the theater Principe Amedeo “.
But the fervent life of the Ariston continues even after that fateful day. Over the years, numerous rooms have been opened, which can still be used today for conferences, congresses, press reviews and many other events. In 1994, the three rooms of the Roof were created in the area below the roof of the complex, with a total capacity of almost 750 seats, and in recent years the small but comfortable room of Roof 4, intended for projection, has also been made accessible lesser known films.
Basically, the Ariston theater can be considered one of the most representative examples of the combination of comfort, beauty, functionality and cutting-edge technology.
Located in the most famous street in the center of Sanremo, Corso Matteotti , the theater is usually used as a multiplex cinema. Inside there are six cinemas: the Ariston room (1909 seats), the Ritz on the lower floor (390 seats), and the four rooms of the Roof on the upper floor (the Roof 1 with 384 seats, the Roof 2 and 3 with 135 seats each, and the new comfortable Roof 4 with 35 seats).
At the entrance to the theater there is a bar where you can buy freshly made popcorn, candies, drinks and much more, and there are three lifts to go up to the rooms located on the upper floors.
As for the technology at the service of the cinema, the Ariston has always been renewed in step with the most recent innovations: just think that it was the first in Italy to be equipped with a screen for the Cinerama, the novelty presented in Turin on the occasion of the exhibition of Italia ’61, and which still today has a very advanced projection and audio system, both from a theatrical-television and a cinematographic point of view. Since December 2010 the Ariston is the first multiplex cinema with all 6 digitalized rooms with 2K DCI projectors, of which 4 (the Roof 1, 2 and 3) equipped with 3D projection with Dolby System, while the Ritz is Master Image system.
The cinema programming is also always attentive to new releases, with an eye to even the most niche films, and the “Wednesday cinema” promotion is active, thanks to which on Wednesdays you can take advantage of the ticket at the reduced cost of € 4 instead of € 7.
But during the year the most diverse shows, congresses, conferences, exhibitions, demonstrations and events are organized inside it, among which the most famous remains the Festival of the Italian Song, commonly called the Sanremo Festival, which is based in the large and the famous Ariston hall since 1977 (with the exception of 1990, when the Festival took place instead in the premises of the Flower Market in Valle Armea), the year in which the singing event moves here from the historic Salone delle Feste of the Casino.
In addition to the Festival, many other events, musical and otherwise, have been held and are being held inside the Sala dell’Ariston. In the past, the great theater has seen itself as the protagonist of great boxing matches worldwide, and has hosted the ballets of the great Rudolf Nureyev. Inside the Ariston there has also been, since 1974, the famous Tenco Award , now in its 37th edition, the Television Direction Award, known as Oscar TV, and in the two-year period 2008-2009 the first two editions of Ti lascio una song, television show broadcast by RAI.
The Ariston Cinema Theater
- Address: Corso Matteotti 226 Sanremo (IM)
- Official site: www.aristonsanremo.com
- Phone: +39 0184 507070