Lawyer and Municipal Councillor
Evelina Cristel was born in Sanremo on 6th December 1924 to Giovanni Battista, born in Tesero (Trento), and Giuseppina Saladini, born in Ascoli Piceno.
After graduating from the Liceo 'G.D. Cassini' in 1942, she enrolled in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Florence, but moved to the same faculty at the University of Genoa the following year.
In the early afternoon of 4th October 1944, Evelina, who had joined the Resistance in the meantime, was arrested, together with her sister Giuliana, in her home in Corso Garibaldi during a raid by the Republican National Guard. When they entered the house, the soldiers caught Evelina typing some anti-fascist leaflets, while her father Gianni fortunately managed to escape through an unguarded door.
Deported to the lager in Bolzano, they remained there for two months, where they lived in extremely precarious conditions in terms of health, hygiene and food. The two sisters were finally liberated on 30 April 1945.
After the Liberation, Cristel was appointed member of the provisional government council, formed by the Cln to temporarily administer the Municipality of Sanremo while waiting for the appointment of the first democratic council, as a representative of the Women's Defence Group.
In the local elections of 24 March 1946, she was elected town councillor for the PCI (Italian Comunist Party) at the age of just 21, shortly after graduating in Literature.
Among other things, this election makes her - to this day - the youngest councillor ever to enter the Sanremo town council.
In 1948, however, she resigned from the PCI due to ideological differences.
In 1951, she graduated in law from the University of Genoa with a score of 110 cum laude. After brilliantly passing the exams to become a procurator and a lawyer (which was unusual at the time because, unlike today, people automatically became lawyers after a certain number of years in the profession), she began practising law, becoming the first woman lawyer in the Sanremo forum.
Favoured by a great facility of speech and a remarkable power of persuasion, as well as a stringent logic of the arguments, she distinguished herself above all in the penal field, but she also dealt with civil cases, taking also an interest in legal medicine, of which she acquired a discreet competence. Profoundly honest and generous, she never asked for favours and was always ready and willing to help anyone in need, so much so that she took on some cases without asking for any kind of compensation.
She was also known for her scrupulous commitment to studying political problems in detail.
In the local elections of June 1970, she stood in the lists of the Liberal Party and joined the Municipal Council as a member of the PLI, of which she had become a leading local figure, becoming the council leader of the same party, a fact that also attested to the importance and prestige she had achieved within its political organisation.
In this role, she intervened on the main problems facing the city, from schools to the Casino, from tourism to waste disposal, from the municipal budget to the town plan, as well as more political issues, demonstrating her usual competence and professionalism.
She stood in the municipal elections in June 1975 on the independent list "Nuova Sanremo", and was elected to the Council in October 1979.
Re-elected as group leader for the new political formation, she distinguished herself once again for a series of interventions on various topics: from the Song Festival to schoolrooms, from competitions for school employees to the moving of prisons and the calendar of events of the Municipality.
For her political and professional activities, she was also a symbol of female emancipation in our province, as she was the first woman lawyer and the youngest councillor in Sanremo.
As far as her legal activity is concerned, there are many famous trials in which she defended well-known and lesser-known defendants from the local chronicles. Among others, she defended a former mayor implicated in the Casino contracts affair; in the 1990s, she dealt with a colleague involved in the scandal of bribes paid to Sanremo politicians; in 1976, she assisted a Sicilian man who had come to Ventimiglia to defend the honour of a relative; finally, in 1983, she managed to avoid life imprisonment for a woman who had organised the murder of her husband with her lover.
In October 2005, after more than fifty years of honourable activity, she decided to give up the toga and left the Sanremo Bar Association.
She died in Sanremo on 5 September 2011 at her home in Corso Garibaldi, where she spent her last days being looked after by her sister Giuliana and her cousins and nieces and nephews.
The funeral, which took place two days later in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, was attended by an emotional crowd of relatives, friends and colleagues, who wished to pay their last respects to a great protagonist of the political, administrative and forensic history of our city.
(Source: text by Andrea Gandolfo; image from WEB)