Right in the centre of the Lungomare Vittorio Veneto is Il Chiosco della Musica, a unique Art Nouveau building that has no similarities in the area and is reminiscent of the elegant pavilions in the gardens of celebrated European spas of the Belle époque.
Inaugurated in 1929 (on Sunday 3rd November to be precise), it was desired by the people of Rapallo who had emigrated to Chile and wished to donate to their hometown a venue suitable for musical band concerts: the Rapallo families transplanted in South America opened a subscription that was a complete success in three years.
The project drawn up by geom. Luigi Devoto had a diameter of ten metres and a height of nine, with twelve columns supporting the dome. A decisive contribution to embellishing the graceful kiosk were the splendid frescoes inside the dome, the work of Prof. Giovanni Grifo, an artist who had previously been much admired for ‘The Four Seasons of Cosmopolitan Rapallo’ on the facade of the Hotel Savoia and other works.
The fresco is an authentic anthology of the most famous composers: the dome depicts Verdi, Rossini, Bellini, Boito, Beethoven, Auber, Meyerbeer, Palestrina, Mozart, Berlioz, Gluck, who have the characters of their greatest works behind them; set in medallions on the arches: Bach, Spontini, Pergolesi, Cimarosa, Bizet, Ponchielli, Gounod, Donizetti, Monteverdi, Händel, Haydn and Puccini. A true temple of music that in the 1930s offered a full programme of band concerts as well as classical music entertainment for piano and strings. The audience took their seats on the chairs arranged around the kiosk.
During the Second World War, the building was used by the German army to store sacks of cement for the construction of the anti-landing wall and a bomb exploded nearby splintering the columns. Far more serious, however, is the damage caused to the frescoes by salt and humidity.
A very recent restoration has safeguarded the frescoes, and has also involved the arrangement and recovery of the surrounding Piazza Martiri della Libertà, repaved in stone and made pedestrian friendly. In the course of this work, the remains of the ancient pier came to light and were returned to the city thanks to a glass pyramid that makes them partially visible.
In fact, the area where the Music Kiosk is located has always been called ‘Marina delle barche’ (boat harbour) and the buildings surrounding Piazza Martiri della Libertà are the houses of the old fishing village, whose arcades were once lapped by the waves.