Forerunner of the Art Nouveau style that still distinguishes some works of Sanremo today, the architect Pio Soli was born in Castelnuovo Scrivia on 22 March 1847 to Antonio and Maria Corni.
He came to Sanremo as Giovanni Marsaglia's trusted architect. Full of awards and prizes obtained by participating in competitions in many Italian cities, he was almost devoid of experience of works actually carried out.
His debut was the construction of a not memorable Hotel Bellevue, on Corso Imperatrice, soon demolished to make room for a Villa for the engineer Marsaglia, so impressive that it was immediately renamed Castello. With it, Pio Soli began a way in which he would remain faithful in the construction of subsequent villas.
Following the example of what Charles Garnier, of whom he was one of the greatest followers, was doing, also in the nearby Bordighera, the buildings were double-body, one extended horizontally, the other vertically as a habitable tower. Decorations and finishing touches were added to this structure in order to characterise the single work, which could be in neo-medieval, renaissance and neo-Renaissance style, according to the dictates of the prevailing eclecticism. Almost always present were elements, also borrowed from Garnier, such as the mansard roofs with slate cladding, the oculus windows, often with cartouche, the wrought iron lace at the top of the roof.
Pio Soli stayed in Sanremo until his death, participating in all the main artistic events, by virtue of his acknowledged cultural authority and his by now acquired Sanremo citizenship.
Let us remember his main works: 1873-74, Hotel Bellevue as replacement for the Passeggiata dell'Imperatrice, 1880 project for a Casino-Kursaal, 1882 Castello Marsaglia, 1883 Villa Thiem (now Villa Virginia), 1884 Villa Fiorentina, 1885 Presbiterian Church, with Carlo Gastaldi, demolished in 1936, 1886-7 Sea Bathing Establishment, 1890 Roverizio Tomb, 1891 renovation of Villa Nobel, 1893 Villa Bel Respiro, 1896 Villa Stefania, 1898 Villa del Sole and Villa Marie Joseph, 1901 project for the tomb of Giovanni Marsaglia.
He was part of the commission that entrusted Leonardo Bistolfi with the realization of the monument to Garibaldi.
He is also considered the author of the Borea-Massa complex.
In 1905 the Municipal Administration entrusted him with the task of supervising the testing of the building and the structures of the Casino, with regard to the projects and cost estimates presented at the time by the architect Eugène Ferret who had carried it out. On that occasion, he demonstrated a strict and correct interpretation of a prudent and responsible architectural ethic, identified shortcomings and deficiencies in the execution of the original project and suggested to the City Council to reduce the amount of money initially agreed, thus arousing Ferret's subsequent indignation.
He died a few months later, on 21st May 1906, and was buried in the Foce Cemetery in Sanremo.
(source from various texts)