Riviera Casinos

The first Italian Casino was born in the elegant Villa Sultana, along Corso Regina Margherita in Ospedaletti. It was built in 1884 as a recreational club, where the guests, which included the aristocracy from all Europe, could meet in order to gamble at its baize tables. After little more than twenty years’ activity, Ospedaletti ceded its license to the Sanremo Casino which was built by French engineer Eugene Ferret on behalf of the municipality and inaugurated on 12th January 1905.

The Sanremo Casino was officially born on 22nd December 1927 thanks to a Royal Decree and the interventions by the local chief magistrate, Pietro Agosti, and Benito Mussolini.

English noblemen and aristocrats were fascinated by the Balzi Rossi in Ventimiglia at the beginning of the 20th century, and this led to the birth of a restaurant overlooking the sea. The casino of “Grottes Rouges” in the municipality of Ventimiglia was consequently born during February 1911. Gambling was prohibited in France at that time, and this led to the success of the house; so much so that Mentone was initially connected by a tram track and subsequently by a lift taking guests to the tables from Ponte San Luigi. The Grottes Rouges Casino hung on until 1922 when Ventimiglia also ceded its license to Sanremo.

A rotunda overlooking the sea. This is the open space next to the romantic small church of Sant’Ampelio nowadays. But in 1914 this was the location of Bordighera’s casino, during a period in which the entire city underwent a tourist revolution, thanks to the numerous north European visitors who built spectacular villas along the Via Romana, more that twenty-six hotels and the promenade along the seafront. Along with the other two historic gambling premises in Ospedaletti and Ventimiglia, the casino in Bordighera also had to cede the exclusive gambling rights to Sanremo in 1927.

[Samirah Muran]

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