Simone Cristicchi was the winner of the 57th edition of Italy' flagship Sanremo Festival, which concluded on March 3.

The Sony BMG-signed singer won with the song "Ti Regalerò Una Rosa" ("I Will Give You A Rose"). Veteran Al Bano took second place, while Piero Mazzocchetti was third, out of a field of 20.

Winners were chosen by popular vote, with TV viewers expressing their preferences by telephone.

The festival, which was broadcast live on state-owned RAI 1 over five nights, recorded an audience share of 54% on its final night, with an average audience of 10.5 million viewers, according to organizers.

The Sanremo Festival has been a dominant feature of Italy's music landscape since its inauguration in 1951.

In recent years, it has, however, been the subject of controversy and the 2007 edition was no exception. In the build-up to the festival, government ministers publicly complained about the fees being paid to the festival's director and chief presenter, Pippo Baudo, and his co-presenter, Swiss-born actress and former wife of singer Eros Ramazzotti, Michelle Hunziker.

The controversy became particularly intense on March 4, when national newspaper "La Stampa" reported that Rai 1's director Fabrizio Del Noce had been overheard in a restaurant telling a colleague that next year's festival, rumored to be hosted by veteran TV presenter Paolo Bonolis, would be far better.