Mike Bongiorno

Mike Bongiorno was born in New York the 26th of May in 1924. At a young age he moved to Turin with his mother. Journalism quickly became his passion. He started writing sports articles for the newspaper La Stampa and then, when returning to the USA, he also wrote for a couple of American newspapers, however he achieved true success only starting from the ‘50s.

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Breuil and his passion for the mountains as background for work

For over 30 years Cervinia
 was home for Mike, so much so that in 1999 he was nominated
as honorary citizen.
At Cervinia he’s inspired to create
the first quiz show in Italian TV,
the very much loved show
”Lascia o raddoppia?” (“Leave or double”)
He also set The Wheel of Fortune and “Striscia la Notizia Estate”.
In 1976, as testimonial of Grappa Bocchino, the television host decides to set a TV add on the peak of Cervino.
Today the famous slogan is still remembered “Sempre piu` in alto“. (Always higher)

“Sempre più in alto”
“Always higher”

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His whole life is characterized by his need of being.
in the midst of the mountains but also his desire of working amongst that environment.
Mike also became president of the Mikey Mouse Club, (Club Topolino) in which he organized a ski race for kids from all over Italy. At this event a youngster won, and was then very well known: Gustav Thoni.

Mike’s friendship later on in life with Renato Racsel was memorable, due to him talking so well about Cervinia to convince Racsel to invest a great amount of money on Hotel Cristallo, that today hosts Club Med.
What a great love for the town, which later Cervinia reciprocated in 2012 by placing a bronze bust statue of Mike Bongiorno at the entrance of the pedestrian center, where he can look at the visitors and smiling exclaim: “Glee!

“Allegria!”
“Glee!”

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 “Cervino – the Mountain of the World”
the movie, by Nicolò Bongiorno

Cervino - foto di Enrico Romanzi

Cervino – foto di Enrico Romanzi

The film “Cervinothe Mountain of the World“, produced by Nicolò Bongiorno, came out during the festivities of Mount Cervino’s 150th anniversary since the first climb to the top. His father, Mike, was a very important figure in Valtournenche‘s history, in fact the author of the movie wanted to tell the story of a difficult climb, he used an engaging plot and allowed the story to unfold in a simple manner, that way even the non-experts were able to be captured by his film.

I really wanted to do this film on Cervino, it took me months” says Nicolò. “The story is about a young man from Milan, that has always wanted to climb ‘the noble cliff of Europe‘. For the shots that were taken at 4500 meters we used highly technological equipment and the result was incredible, it became a documentary that told the magical story of the relationship between a guide and his client through an engaging dialogue, rich of historical references.

Nicolò and his family spent a lot of time in Cervinia and when I asked him to remember a memory tied to this town he took a long reflective pause.

I spent a lot of time in Cervino’s shadow, especially during the holidays and it is in those occasions, of family reunions, that my mind goes to. In the midst of good memories I can remember my first “Ventina“, a famous ski slope: I was three years old and I remember going down this big and long slope with my mom and dad who took turns holding my arm“.
Nicolò has always been attracted to the mountains, “the real ones“, the ones you see in Valtournenche, and asking him about the future of the mountains he said: “We mustn’t repeat the errors of the past, I would like to see in the future a development in environmental awareness looking at new technologies, and bettering the city and territorial management.