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Domenico Modugno at the rehearsals for the 10th Sanremo Festival, 1960.
Domenico Modugno at the rehearsals for the 10th Sanremo Festival, 1960. Copyright Credit: Giuseppe Benzi and Franco Gremignani
Copyright Credit: Giuseppe Benzi and Franco Gremignani
Copyright Credit: Giuseppe Benzi and Franco Gremignani

Unseen moments of Sanremo Festival's golden years revealed in Turin photo exhibition

By Theo Farrant
Published on Updated
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A new photography exhibition offers a candid glimpse into the early golden years of the Sanremo Music Festival through hidden back-stage moments.

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This year's Sanremo Music Festival is soon to be underway, and Turin's renowned Gallerie d'Italia is getting into the spirit with a stunning new photography exhibition.

The festival began in 1951, in the post-World War II era, as a proposal to revitalise Sanremo's economy and reputation by establishing an annual music event in the city.

Notably, it served as the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest and has launched the careers of some of Italy's most accomplished artists, such as Andrea Bocelli and Eros Ramazzotti.

The Gallerie d'Italia's new exhibition titled "No Age: The Sanremo Festival in Black and White 1951-1976," features 85 gorgeous photos from the Publifoto Intesa Sanpaolo Archive. 

From the singers’ rehearsals, the artists' catwalks around the small Ligurian town of Sanremo, as well as the makeup rooms, the photos on display highlight the hidden off-stage moments when the festival was held at the historic Casino of Sanremo.

Sanremo Festival 1961 group photo on Casino steps: L-R Rocco Granata, Jolanda Rossin, Pino Donaggio, Silvia Guidi, Little Tony, Nadia Liani, Tony Renis, Betty Curtis.
Sanremo Festival 1961 group photo on Casino steps: L-R Rocco Granata, Jolanda Rossin, Pino Donaggio, Silvia Guidi, Little Tony, Nadia Liani, Tony Renis, Betty Curtis.©Archivio Publifoto Intesa Sanpaolo/Archivio Publifoto Intesa Sanpaolo
Mina wearing a sailor's cap at the port of Sanremo during the 10th Festival, 1960.
Mina wearing a sailor's cap at the port of Sanremo during the 10th Festival, 1960.Photographic service by Giuseppe Benzi and Franco Gremignani
Adriano Celentano caused a scandal by turning his back on the audience during his performance at the 11th Sanremo Festival in which he sang '24000 baci', 1961.
Adriano Celentano caused a scandal by turning his back on the audience during his performance at the 11th Sanremo Festival in which he sang '24000 baci', 1961.Photograph by Franco Gremignani
Presenters Rossana Armani, Edy Campagnoli, Giuliana Copreni, and Maria Giovannini (clockwise from left) backstage with Mike Bongiorno at the 13th Sanremo Festival, 1963.
Presenters Rossana Armani, Edy Campagnoli, Giuliana Copreni, and Maria Giovannini (clockwise from left) backstage with Mike Bongiorno at the 13th Sanremo Festival, 1963.Photograph by Sergio Cossu
Mike Bongiorno and Giuliana Lojodice, hosts of the 14th Sanremo Festival, with winners Gigliola Cinquetti and Patricia Carli (left) and their song 'Non ho l'età', 1964.
Mike Bongiorno and Giuliana Lojodice, hosts of the 14th Sanremo Festival, with winners Gigliola Cinquetti and Patricia Carli (left) and their song 'Non ho l'età', 1964.Photograph by Sergio Cossu
Gigliola Cinquetti poses for photographers after winning the 16th Sanremo Festival paired with Domenico Modugno with the song 'Dio, come ti amo', 1966.
Gigliola Cinquetti poses for photographers after winning the 16th Sanremo Festival paired with Domenico Modugno with the song 'Dio, come ti amo', 1966.©Archivio Publifoto Intesa Sanpaolo/Archivio Publifoto Intesa Sanpaolo
Al Bano surrounded by fans outside the Casino during the 18th Sanremo Festival, 1968.
Al Bano surrounded by fans outside the Casino during the 18th Sanremo Festival, 1968.Photograph by Carlo Alberto Pieri
Domenico Modugno at the rehearsals for the 10th Sanremo Festival, 1960.
Domenico Modugno at the rehearsals for the 10th Sanremo Festival, 1960.Photographic service by Giuseppe Benzi and Franco Gremignani
Louis Armstrong on stage at the 18th Sanremo Festival in which he participated with the song 'Mi va di cantare' paired with Lara Saint Paul, 1968.
Louis Armstrong on stage at the 18th Sanremo Festival in which he participated with the song 'Mi va di cantare' paired with Lara Saint Paul, 1968.Photograph by Nicola Giordano
The Ricchi e Poveri joke in the make-up room at the XXIII Sanremo Festival, 1973.
The Ricchi e Poveri joke in the make-up room at the XXIII Sanremo Festival, 1973.Photograph by Lucio Berzioli
Press room at the XXI Sanremo Festival, 1971.
Press room at the XXI Sanremo Festival, 1971.Photographic service by Nicola Giordano and Tino Petrelli
Claudia Mori and Adriano Celentano posing on the Sanremo seafront on the final day of the 20th Festival, 1970.
Claudia Mori and Adriano Celentano posing on the Sanremo seafront on the final day of the 20th Festival, 1970.Photograph by Carlo Alberto Pieri

The exhibition runs from 1 February to 12 May 2024.

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