Sanremo or San Remo [san ˈremo] (Ligurian: Sanrœmu) is a city on the Mediterranean coast of western Liguria in north-western Italy. Founded in Roman times, it has a population of 57,000, and is known as a tourist destination on the Italian Riviera. It hosts numerous cultural events, such as the Sanremo Music Festival and the Milan–San Remo cycling classic.
The name of the city is a phonetic contraction of Sant’Eremo di San Romolo, which refers to Romulus of Genoa, the successor to Syrus of Genoa. It is often stated in modern folk stories that Sanremo is a translation of “Saint Remus”, a deceased Saint. In Ligurian, his name is San Rœmu. The spelling San Remo is on all ancient maps of Liguria, the ancient Republic of Genoa, Italy in the Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Kingdom of Italy. It was used in 1924 in official documents under Mussolini. This form of the name appears still on some road signs and, more rarely, in unofficial tourist information. It has been the most widely used form of the name in English at least since the 19th century.
Sanremo postcard from the 1920s
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 Genoese Republic. In 1753, after 20 years of fierce conflicts, it rose against Genoese hegemonical attempts. 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 in 1814, Sanremo was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia. From the middle of the 18th century the town grew rapidly, in part due to the development of tourism, which saw the first grand hotels built and the town extended along the coast. The Empress “Sissi” of Austria, Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia vacationed in Sanremo while Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel made it his permanent home.
The San Remo conference, 19–26 April 1920, of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council determined the allocation of Class “A” League of Nations mandates for administration of the former Ottoman-ruled lands of the Middle East by the victorious powers. The most notable of these was the British Mandate of Palestine.
Sanremo is the home of International Institute of Humanitarian Law, the most notable institute in courses about refugees and international humanitarian law.