IL SALONE

Cesare Perfetto was a true “Roman from Rome,” as he liked to call himself, and people often said

 “he went to school with a smile on his sleeve”.

The Salone is born

 

 

In 1947 he married Adele, moved to Bordighera and opened a bookshop along one of its main streets, Corso Italiawhich will soon become the key center of a budding creative idea…

 

Cesare with a group of cartoonists in front at Corso Italia’s bookshop

 

The war had ended not long ago and tourism in Italy was beginning to flourish. Cesare began searching for an original alternative to the beauty contests and other festivals that were gaining popularity along the coast. Together with Guglielmo Merani and Natale Agnese who were part of the Circolo della Stampa, a network of like-minded journalists, they thought of convening cartoonists and exhibiting their humor-filled artworks alongside famous artists (at the third edition six pieces by Toulouse-Lautrec were presented!). And each year, the artwork is reviewed by an esteemed panel of judges. They would later define the conference’s mission to safeguard literary freedoms and defend the essence of humor. Early participants included cartoonists whose works appeared in famous satirical publications such the Canard EnchaînéSimplicissimusMarc’AurelioSzpilki and The New Yorker.

Palma d’Oro and Innovations

 

In 1952, the jury panel creates the annual Palma D’Oro (Gold Palm), an honor bestowed to the best artist and writer of that edition. The winners that year were Raymond Peynet, renown for his sweet “fiancés” and Giovannino Guareschi for his literary character “Don Camillo”.

 

Raymond Peynet with Giovanni Guareschi awarded with the Palma d’Oro at V Salone

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1955, the festival officially takes the name of the Salone Internazionale dell’Umorismo, and will continue to grow annually for 50 years thanks to Cesare’s tireless work, his close cooperation with local leaders and the Tourism Office, the Azienda di Soggiorno e Turismo, and increased efforts to attract international media attention such Literaturnaja Gazeta from Moscow, Asahi Shimbun from Tokyo and many others.

 

Angelo Giribaldi Laurenti, Raymond Peynet, Guglielmo Merani and Cesare Perfetto at the award ceremony.

 

 

In 1959, Cesare continues to innovate and creates a new category as part of the festival to incorporate current affairs and news-worthy topics of the moment. This is the first year of the Fixed Theme category (Tema Fisso), opening the door to amateurs, professionals and up-and-coming artists and cartoonists to compete in the same field by stretching their imaginations and coming up with creative — and sometimes provocative — illustrations according to socially and politically relevant topics. Each year perfectly captures the zeitgeist of that time: in 1969, “Destination Moon” with the opening of the Salone just two days after Armstrong first walk; in 1961 “Humor for Peace”; “Young generation” in 1967; “Say no to drugs!” in 1970; “We must save Venice! in 1972; “Europe yesterday, today and… in the future?!” in 1976; “Bureaucracy” in 1977; “Do you smoke? No, thanks…” in 1987; and in 1996 “Nuclear?? No thanks!”(1996)

 

The Palazzo del Parco in Bordighera, headquarter of Salone

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Salone goes Global

 

 

The exhibit then takes on an international dimension as it tours major European cities and prestigious venues such as the Palais de L’Europe in Strasbourg, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Kew Gardens in London and the B.I.T in Geneva.

 

The Salone at European Council in Strasbourg

 

 

Each year, cartoonists, artists and authors journey from Sydney, New York, Moscow and even Tokyo, to Bordighera for its authentic atmosphere filled with sentiments of friendship and collaboration that know no linguistic, culture, or religious boundaries. For an entire week, the coastal city is filled with laughter, games and of course the suspense of the final night’s award ceremony. Such were the glamorous Bordighera summer nights!

Celebrities from around the world also attend and even perform at the Salone, drawing attention from the locals for their light-hearted pranks, like those of Roberto Benigni, or seaside serenades, like those by Renzo Arbore.

 

 

 

 

… and many others, including: Dario Fo with Franca Rame, Fernanda Pivano and Ettore Sottsass, Antonio Rubino, Mario Soldati,  Umberto Eco, Aldo Fabrizi, Renato Rascel, Sylva Koscina, Ettore Scola, Ugo Tognazzi, Nino Manfredi, Vittorio Gassman, Carlo Silva, Enzo Tortora, Marcello Marchesi, Carlo Dapporto, Gino Bramieri, Giorgio Gaber, Sandra Mondaini, Paolo Lingua, Vezio Melegari, Francesco Guccini, Sophia Loren, Federico Fellini, Alberto Sordi, Paolo Conte, Renato Pozzetto, Antonio Ricci, Luciano Salce, Pippo Franco, Alighiero Noschese, Giorgio Saviane,  Luciano De Crescenzo, Angelo Rizzoli, Oreste del Buono, Maurizio Costanzo, Luca Goldoni, Alberto Tomba, Max Bunker,  Michele Serra, Paolo Villaggio, Giovanni Spadolini, Giulio Andreotti,  Valentino Bompiani, Mimma Mondadori…

 

 

Official Awards and Recognitions

 

The Salone also received recognition by official institutions for its cultural value in encouraging mutual understanding among people. From1977, the 30th edition, the exhibit was organized under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and the European Council awarded Cesare with the Presidential Silver Medal of Honor with the words:

“Year after year, through the Salone dell’ Umorismo, you have successfully created an undeniable social and human value. Personally, I am delighted to be able to publicly show our deep appreciation for your work, awarding you the Medaglia del Consiglio. This medal is given to people whose work have brought people and ideas together across Europe, solidifying the important principles of Friendship, Brotherhood and Solidarity among nations. Your work merits this high honor.”

 

 

 

The Salone also received recognition by official institutions for its cultural value in encouraging mutual understanding among people. From1977, the 30th edition, the exhibit was organized under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and the European Council awarded Cesare with the Presidential Silver Medal of Honor with the words:

“Year after year, through the Salone dell’ Umorismo, you have successfully created an undeniable social and human value. Personally, I am delighted to be able to publicly show our deep appreciation for your work, awarding you the Medaglia del Consiglio. This medal is given to people whose work have brought people and ideas together across Europe, solidifying the important principles of Friendship, Brotherhood and Solidarity among nations. Your work merits this high honor.”

The Salone today

The work of the Salone and its artists transcended both time and place. Many of the artworks that were satirical or newsworthy at the time, continue to be relevant in today’s world. Despite technological advances and globalization, the simple messages you will see in these pages continue to permeate the fabric of our societies.

And while Bordighera remains a quaint beachside town, its place in history is cemented thanks to the legacy of the Salone; its inhabitants forever remembering the famous visitors who strolled the boardwalk, the colourful artwork that lined the sidewalks, and the laughs that echoed in the streets on those balmy summer nights. This site is a living archive of the history of the Salone and the artists who participated in it over the years. We hope you will enjoy it, remember it, or just learn about it as we continue to update it with newfound treasures, jokes and memories!