Ads and commercials in 1910 Spoleto

What were the most popular hotels in 1910 Spoleto? Which craftsmen or merchants were the most popular? How did the advertising language related to the promotion of institutions and industrial realities change? To have an idea, we propose a small selection, with no pretext of exhaustiveness, of advertisements and commercials preserved in the “G. Carducci” City Library and taken for the most part from the “Guida Spoleto e Dintorni“, published that year by Panetto and Petrelli, as well as from the various contemporary issues of the weekly “La Giovane Umbria“.

No boom of mass tourism was in sight, yet Spoleto was already a city by the strong tourist vocation, also in its communication strategies. The pre-eminence and quantity of advertisements dedicated to accommodation facilities testify to this. We have chosen some of them. Let’s start with Hotel Lucini, defined “the most prestigious hotel in the city” in the volume dedicated to Spoleto in the series Manuali per il Territorio. The advertisement of the time underlines how the structure, born in 1860 and just refurbished, was recommended in the Baedeker guidebooks, the first travel guides of great circulation and popularity – and can offer its rich foreign clients “a roof garden for restaurant use” and “very fine cuisine” with “large wine storage” and “special car service to visit the surroundings”. In fact, right next to the hotel, in via Felice Cavallotti, is the F.lli Rossini e Bertini company, a horse-drawn-car company specialized in luxury services. In Corso Vittorio Emanuele, before the Albergo Ristorante Sabatini there was the Albergo Ristorante Cambioli with “kitchen and all hours”, “banquet hall” and garden. From the area of the current Corso Mazzini we move to the lower part of the city where once there was “the closest hotel to the railway station” the Albergo Ristorante della Ferrovia, in Piazza Garibaldi. Also this completely refurbished, the hotel guarantees a “permanent service even at night” and it is a point of honour to ensure “impeccable service” with the rooms “all facing the south”.

Hotel Lucini

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There are many advertisements also in the field of medicine and health care, among which the techniques and instruments listed in the advertisement by Dr. Saverio Massi-Benedetti, owner of a medical office in via Fiordespina Lauri, arouse curiosity. There are quartz lamps for the treatment of skin diseases, various instruments for electrotherapy such as galvanic, pharadic and sinusoidal currents, as well as electric massages and light baths. More reassuring is the promotional message of the Hospital Pharmacy “the best and most modern and elegant in the city”, born in Borgo San Matteo, next to the city hospital, by the Congregation of Charity and in a short time able to serve a long list of public and private institutions. The chronicles of the time reserve other strange surprises: as in the rest of Europe, also in Spoleto, precisely at the Cosma e Sabatini pharmacy in Corso Vittorio Emanuale, Coza powder is on sale, a strange mixture that is exalted as a panacea to fight and even defeat the scourge of alcoholism.

There is also room for institutional and industrial production-related advertising: the Regio Oleificio Sperimentale, in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele (now Piazza Libertà), established in Spoleto since 1903, as well as being an institution of great value in the field of higher education, sells olive oil, pomace and “pure olive stone tiles”; the Convitto Nazionale Umberto I in Piazza XX Settembre, established in 1861 and opened the following year, with “an area of uncovered land for recreation and gymnastic and military exercises” and “entirely illuminated by electric light”; the Pennacchietti Bacological Plant, outside Porta Romana, one of the most important in Italy in the textile sector.

Regio Oleificio Sperimentale

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And then there are artisans such as Eleuterio Leonardi and his son who, in the workshop in Via dello Spagna, repair steam engines, threshing machines, cars, motorcycles but also musical instruments, being a luthier appreciated internationally, or Giuseppe Pirola, in Via Minervio, owner of the award-winning Milanese pastry shop, with a vast assortment of cakes and fruit, specializing in the processing of a dessert as far from typical as the “panettone alla milanese”.

Eleuterio Leonardi e figlio

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