Villa Sultana was the first casino in Italy: what remains today.
Villa Sultana, located in Ospedaletti, is abandoned for a long time. A building that came to light in 1884 and which, for many years, has been a flagship of the “city of roses”, together with other buildings of the same town and nearby Sanremo.
Villa ‘La Sultana’ was immersed in a luxuriant park of about 14,000 square meters and full of tall trees, palm trees and others, about 250 meters from the sea. It was built by architect Sebastien Marcel Biasini from Nice, together with the lords Jeausoulin from Menton and Bonfante from Sanremo while the decorator was the painter Morgari, inspector of the museum of fine arts of Turin.
Villa “La Sultana” was conceived as a casino, meaning with this term a building destined to house a club and especially a gambling house; therefore it was conceived as a recreational place, in which the “guests” of the Riviera, the aristocracy of all Europe and in particular the oriental one, could find themselves to play and have fun around the green tables.
Under the direction of the Company, worldly meetings, congresses, ceremonies and important musical evenings were organized. It became famous for its “matinée”, so defined even if its started at 15.30 to allow the guests to be present after the night spent around the “roulettes”.
At the arrival of each train a small omnibus was placed at the disposal of the customers, initially driven by horses and then by mechanical traction, which brought them directly from the station to the Villa.
The showrooms, together with the elegant Tea Room Biancheri and the graceful Alexandra Tea Room, constituted the mundane pole on which all the important guests of the town gravitated.
Soon, however, the Villa also became a place of meditation. In fact, precisely because of the presence of such and many people who belonged to different religious cults, there was a need to satisfy their need for prayer.
Thus, in addition to the existing churches in the village, the “Deutscher Evangelische Gottesdienst” was founded by Pastor Hartmann and the “Church of England” by the chaplain Barber, two non-Catholic chapels in the villa’s rooms.
Villa La Sultana hosted the first Casino of Italy since 1884, the year of its inauguration, until 1905, when the company that managed it ceded the license to the city of Sanremo.
Since then it continued only as a private circle, being able to count on a tourism of excellence until the winds of war in August 1914 put an end to the happy period of an era passed to history as “Belle Epoque”.
At the beginning of World War II, already closed for years, the Villa hosted military units until the end of the conflict.
Subsequently it underwent some transformations and was used as a private residence until the end of the 50s.
Today the conditions are those that can be seen in my photos. The other photos come from web, in a combination of what was before and what is now this wonderful building that, on October 15, 2006 was also the subject of a fire.