Country – Italy
Broadcaster – RAI
Created – 1951
The “Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo” (Sanremo Italian song festival) has the distinction of being the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest itself. It was created as an idea to revitalise the economy of the city of Sanremo in the aftermath of World War 2 by hosting an annual music festival there.
Since its inception it has been hosted every year, and has become an internationally acclaimed competition as well as being nationally popular, and has launched the careers of several famous Italian singers.
The competition has also been used to select Italy’s Eurovision entry in 1956-1966, 1972, 1997 and from 2011 onwards.
It is important to note that since their recent return, the winner of Sanremo does not necessarily become Italy’s Eurovision entry. A special jury decide amongst all the participants of that year’s competition who is most suitable to be their Eurovision representative.
The Sanremo Music Festival is split into two categories – the “Big Artists” section, for established artists; and the “Newcomers” section, for unknown and young artists. It takes place over five nights, the winner of the Newcomers category is decided on the fourth night, whilst the winner of the Big Artists category is decided on the final night.
In the Big Artists category, all the songs are performed with the bottom few songs being eliminated each night until ten songs are left, the first two nights being voted by a jury of 300 people. On the third night is a “repechage round”, where the eliminated songs perform again and a televote decides which two should be reinstated in the competition. The fourth night’s result is decided by a split vote of an “orchestra jury” and televotes. On the fifth and final night, the ten remaining songs perform in a “first round” with the top three progressing to the “second round”. The voting procedure in the first round is a combination of televotes, the “orchestra jury” and a “golden share” voted by music journalists. In the second round, the three songs are performed again, and the winner of the category is then decided by 100% televote.
In the Newcomers category, the eight competing songs perform for the first time on the second night, and are put in pairs against each other in a televote. The four winners of each pair would then progress to the fourth night, where they perform again before the winner is decided by a combined vote of televotes, an internet vote and votes from Italian radio stations.