A large multi-purpose theatre
After the end of the Second World War, the area where the Principe Amedeo Theatre once stood, destroyed in August 1944 during an air raid and never rebuilt, also because of its central position, seemed the ideal place to host large structures destined to host shows of great appeal not only for the local public, but also for the numerous tourists and guests of the city.
So it was that on June 6, 1947 the active and enterprising Sanremo impresario Aristide Vacchino (son of Carlo Vaccchino who introduced cinematography to Sanremo), who already owned the Cinema Teatro Centrale, opened an open-air cinema on the site previously occupied by a bowling alley, the Giardino, on the area of which, located in Via Matteotti opposite the entrance to Via Mameli, construction work began in 1953 on an imposing building destined for entertainment: the Ariston Centre.
During the construction of the new complex, Aristide Vacchino had to face a number of problems and difficulties in order to carry out his project of providing the city with a grandiose structure for theatre and cinema.
In 1957 the Ariston Giardino was completed, a vast arena situated on the roof of the building in Via Matteotti, with iron tube and partial ondolux roofing, wooden seats and stoneware tile flooring, which could accommodate 1050 spectators, 610 in the stalls and 440 in the gallery.
The Ariston Mignon (now the Ritz) was inaugurated on 5 December 1962. It is a shell-shaped auditorium with 446 seats, 426 of which in the stalls and 20 in the boxes, supported by a reinforced concrete structure and flooring made of grit, marble and rubber, with an elegant decoration consisting of metal bas-reliefs created by the sculptor Edoardo Alfieri.
After ten years of work, the Ariston Cinema Theatre, the largest indoor theatre in the region, was officially inaugurated on 31st May 1963 with a screening of the film The Mutiny of the Bounty, preceded by an opera concert conducted by Carlo Farina.
The new large structure has a total of 1909 seats (after the latest renovation work to bring the interiors into line with the latest safety regulations), of which 1222 in the stalls, 619 in the gallery and 128 distributed among the 16 open boxes on either side of the large public area.
In addition, a "mystic gulf" was capable of accommodating 100 orchestral professors, as well as 30 dressing rooms, 3 large rooms for dancers, musicians and choirs!
Since its opening, Centro Ariston has stood out for its characteristics as a state-of-the-art multi-purpose complex marked by comfortable rooms, particularly elegant and refined furnishings and decorations, highly advanced technological solutions, extensive stage equipment, and state-of-the-art multimedia systems and services.
After the death of the founder Aristide Vacchino in December 1980, the management of the complex, together with that of the Centrale, passed to his children Walter and Carla, who took over the reins of the family business with renewed energy and determination to continue their father's work in the best possible way, in the name of tradition and consolidation of the flattering results already obtained.
Finally, on 24th May 1994, the Ariston Roof was inaugurated on the top floor of the complex. This structure, built on the area where the open-air cinema garden was previously located, includes 900 square metres of auditorium, 1050 square metres of terrace with a view of the entire city, 1000 square metres of technological services and another 400 square metres used for various services.
Designed and built above all for congress purposes, the Ariston Roof is however usually used as a multiplex cinema and as a press room during the Song Festival.
The three screening rooms currently have a total of 654 seats, are flanked by an exhibition hall, have a bar service and can be reached by three convenient lifts from the ground floor on Via Matteotti.
The importance of the new theatre was immediately apparent: the Italian Song Festival, which from the beginning was held at the Casino, was broadcast in Eurovision from the Ariston in 1977.
Nowadays people tend to think that the Ariston Theatre is just the "Italian Song Festival", but this complex continues to amaze with its many events.
and then conventions, fitness, exhibitions, cabaret and it is even consecrated to host liturgical week!
(sources: for the text Andrea Gandolfo; imaginida Web and private archive)