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Sanremo - the festival that inspired Eurovision

08 February 2017 at 18:00 CET
The 2017 edition of the Italian Song Contest, Festival della Canzone Italiana di Sanremo, or as it is widely known, Sanremo, kicked off this week. The competition, which has taken place in the city of the same name since 1951, was the inspiration behind the Eurovision Song Contest and has launched the careers of some of Italy's most successful singers including Andrea Bocelli and Eros Ramazzotti. The final of Sanremo 2017 takes place on Saturday.

As with the Eurovision Song Contest, Sanremo first took place in the shadow of World War II. The creation of the festival was borne out of a desire to revitalise the economy and image of the city. The development of the competition took place at the same time as major evolutions in broadcasting, which were supported further by the formation of the European Broadcasting Union.

In 1955, the EBU came up with the idea of an international song contest whereby countries, represented by their respective public broadcasters, would participate in one television show, to be transmitted simultaneously in all represented nations. The original idea was conceived by Marcel Bezençon, who took inspiration from the success of Sanremo, which was an ambitious project for the time. Bezençon's proposal took things to another level; international broadcasting.  

Satellite broadcasting did not exist in the 1950s and so the Eurovision Network, comprised of a terrestrial microwave network, was launched and the Eurovision Song Contest was born!    


Between 1956 and 1966 Sanremo was Italy's national final for the Eurovision Song Contest although over the years the selection method changed. Between 1967-1969 Italy's representative was a Sanremo winner with a different song and in the 1970s the music show Canzonissima was used to choose an Italy's song for Europe. Like many countries, internal selections were also used over the years. 

Italy returned to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011 after a thirteen year absence and Sanremo once again played an instrumental role in selecting Italy's entry. All of Italy's entries since 2011 have been either a Sanremo winner or a Sanremo participant.

Sanremo and the Eurovision Song Contest continue to be unique events in the television calendar, enjoying continued success seven decades after their launch. 

You can watch Sanremo 2017 live every evening from 20:35 CET on the official website as well as RAIPlay and don't forget the official app! In 2017 the winner of Sanremo will be offered the opportunity to represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv.