The City’s vocation as a tourist destination didn’t end with the English, taking off once again after the Second World War – the “dolce vita” era.
In the early 1950s Alassio was a capital of the international highlife: with big names linked to cinema and culture, shows and events at every hour of the day – what a place. The main reason for all of this was the Berrino family’s Caffè Roma. It was a meeting point for the jet set on holiday in Alassio or on the Riviera, with dreams cars, divas and artists passing by every day.
And so in 1953 after an encounter with Ernest Hemingway, an idea took shape. Mario Berrino loved showing his customers his album of autographs of the famous people who had come into his bar; as the years passed the pages filled up with dedications and autographs, it was a shame to keep them hidden away. That’s why when Hemingway was signing his album, Berrino told him about his idea. He wanted to put the signatures onto coloured ceramic tiles and decorate the wall with them: “Okay, Mario – the writer exclaimed – Okay, you have to do it”. He had to start work as soon as possible, so as to avoid any bureaucratic obstacles; at dawn Mario and a group of helpers secretely put up the first few tiles: Hemingway, Quartetto Cetra and Cosimo di Ceglie. The next day nobody complained, and in the following days more tiles were added. The mayor Torre and everybody else in the city obviously thought that something genius was under way and that it was better just to turn a blind eye. So that’s how it all started. Today around 550 tiles can be found on the wall.
Imposing monument of art, culture and fashion as a huge album of autographs over the years has been enriched by many names:
Michele Alboreto, Marisa Allasio, Josè Altafini, Angelillo, Maurizio Arena, Christian Barnard, Gino Bartali, Isa e Pippo Barzizza, Pippo Baudo, Loredana Bertè, Roberto Bettega, Max Biaggi, Alfredo Binda, Mike Bongiorno, Fred Bongusto, Giampiero Boniperti, Liam Breìady, Giorgio Bubba, Edy Campagnoli, Loris Capirossi, Ivan Capelli, Nicolò Carosio, Renato Carosone, Adriano Celentano, Gino Cervi, Piero Chiara, Walter Chiari, Leo Chiosso, Jean Cocteau, Licia Colò, Febo Conti, Fausto Coppi, Corrado, Avier Cugat, Lucio Dalla, Carlo D’Apporto, Fabrizio De Andrè, Lorella De Luca, Vittorio De Sica, Adriano De Zan, Pedro Paolo Diniz, Anita Ekberg, Sergio Endrigo, Aldo Fabrizi, Franco Fasano, Nunzio Filogamo, Salvatore Fiume, Lucio Flauto, Dario Fo, Giorgio Gaber, Beniamino Gigli, Gilberto Govi, Giovanni Guareschi, Grok, Thor Heyerdhal, Ezo Jannacci, Gorni Kramer, Gino Latilla, Carlo Levi, Duilio Loi, Erminio Macario, Paoletta Magoni, la Nazionale di Calcio Campione del Mondo nel 1982, Nino Manfredi, Nando Martellini, Davide Mengacci, Milena Milani, Mina, Domenico Modugno, Sandra Mondaini, Silvio Noto, Wanda Osiris, Adriano Panatta, Gino Paoli, Fausto Papetti, Raymond Peynet, Paola Pezzo, Nilla Pizzi, Platinette, Jacques Prevert, Salvatore Quasimodo, Franca Rame, Renato Rascel, Teddy Reno, Antonio Ricci, Valentino Rossi, Antonio Rosso, Maria Teresa Ruta, Nantas Salvalaggio, Delia Scala, Tino Scotti, Enrico Simonetti, Omar Sivori, Luisito Suarez, Harada Tetsuya, Tiberio Timperi, Achille Togliani, Ugo Tognazzi, Alberto Tomba, Tonina Torielli, Enzo Tortora, Raf Vallone, Antonello Venditti, Simona Ventura, Claudio Villa, Ezio Zerniani, e tanti, tanti altri...
As well as the high-life around the Muretto wall there were also many beautiful, elegant, fresh, sophisticated and admired young girls. If you ask Mario Berrino who was the most fascinating woman to have walked into the Caffè Roma, only after having thought about if for a while, going through all the many beautiful women who go to his bar, will he say one name: Farah Dibah, who, at the height of her splendour, visited the Muretto with Nico de Nora. It’s therefore quite logical that the name Muretto became linked to one of the most famous beauty contests, Miss Muretto, conceived by Lucio Flauto in 1953. The prettiest and most confident girls, perhaps with aspirations of getting into show businnes enrolled themselves or were enrolled by their friend in a competition which is still held today to great success. The Muretto therefore becomes a catwalk for all competitors where, usually around the August holidays, they parade up and down in swimming costumes for an initial afternoon selection, with the winner being officially declared in the evening. The judges have obviously always been big names; one of the first presidents of the jury was none other than Wanda Osiris, queen of elegance and savoir-faire. The atmosphere of the show is like any other beauty contest: tension, emotion, tears, a little bit of envy towards the winner, worried mothers, jealous boyfriends and rowdy friends. In fact a lot of the time, girls are secretely enrolled by their friends, and therefore don’t know they’re in the competition until their names are surprisingly called out for the Muretto contest.This is what happened in 1982 to Isabella Nasuti: she was watching the competition which two of her friends were in when, quite out of the blue, her name was called out. She jokingly got up onto the catwalk and ended up winning. Miss Muretto isn’t only a lively summer beauty competition, it’s also often a spring board towards the world of show business, and as proof, here are some of the names of past Miss Muretto: Marisa Allasio, Maria Teresa Ruta, Simona Ventura