Riva Boats on Lake Garda

If you’ve ever been to Lake Garda you would almost certainly have seen and heard of the magnificent Riva boat. The first time you witness the spectacular sight of the beautifully crafted wooden boats,  your jaw will hit the floor; if at first you don’t see it, then the distinct thrum of the engine as it glides across the lake, is enough to turn any head. With their sensuous curves carved in mahogany, and sparkling chrome fittings you will fall almost immediately in love, whenever a Riva boat pulls in to shore the cameras come out.

Whether or not you’ve realised, you have probably come across these awesome machines before, as they were very popular in the 50’s and 60’s with many of the top Hollywood stars. Sophia Loren and Sean Connery , Elisabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Bridgett Bardot, Anita Ekberg and Marilyn Munroe are just some iconic figures that have owned or been photographed on the equally iconic Riva boat.

Although to own one of these beauties is still only a dream for us mere mortals, a Riva boat ride on Lake Garda is now a real possibility. I will tell why in just a moment but first a few facts about the ‘Lamborghinis’ of the boat world.

Riva Boat Ride On Lake Garda

11 Things To Know About Riva Boats

  1. Riva boats were originally built at the Riva boat building yard in the town of Sarnico, on the shore of Lago D’Iseo, which is in the Franciacorta region of Italy just 50 miles from Lake Garda.
  2. It was in 1832 that Pietro Riva arrived in Sarnico from Laglio near Lake Como. Pietro instantly became a local hero after using his craftsmanship and boat building skills, to repair the boats of the local fishermen after they had all been damaged by an horrendous storm. The Riva legend began.
  3. Pietro Riva’s boats very quickly gained recognition for their quality and craftsmanship and when his son Ernesto introduced the first combustion engines into the design, the era of cargo and passenger boats on Lago D’Iseo took off. When Pietro’s grandson Serafino took over after WW1, he changed the direction of the company by concentrating on the power boat industry which was in it’s early dawn. Riva boats won many awards and records and Riva developed into the unmistakable brand.
  4. The Riva boat yard was passed from father to son through four generations until Carlo Riva came to the helm in the 1950’s. By then the style, elegance, quality and perfection to the tiniest detail, had become ingrained in the Riva culture, with each generation adding something unique. The name Riva became synonymous with these qualities in the boat world and the boats were craved after by the Aristocracy and movie stars alike. The Shah of Persia, Prince Rainier of Monaco, King Hussein of Jordan, Peter Sellers, Richard Burton ad Elisabeth Taylor, Sean Connery and Sophia Loren, Britt Ekland and Anita Ekberg are some of those jet set that succumbed to the majesty of the Riva boat.
  5. In an era which was dominated in Italy by motor racing,’ L’Ingenere’ Carlo Riva was inspired to create a series of wooden yachts which were unrivalled in their uniqueness and unmistakeable design features. The yachts included the Ariston, the Tritone (the first two engine yacht ) and the Sebino (the first boat in series production).
  6. In 1962 Carlo Riva produced the first Aquarama. This became his masterpiece and the flagship boat of the Riva collection. Unrivalled in beauty, performance and craftsmanship, the Aquarama has attained a mythical status in the boating world. The name was inspired by the Cinerama widescreen movie format that was becoming popular at the time, the influence of which can be detected in the boats wide sweeping windshield.
  7. “Sun, sea, joie de vivre!” was the slogan on which the Aquarama was launched. The Aquarama was and evolution of the Tritone. It was 8.02 meters long and 2.62 meters wide, it could sleep up to eight people, with two of the berths at the bow. The Aquarama was powered by two 185 hp Chris-Craft petrol engines, and could reach speeds up to 73 km/h. 769 Aquarama’s were built until production came to an end in 1996.
  8. In 1969 Carlos Riva sold the company to the American firm Whittaker, but he remained at the helm as General Manager and Chairman for two more years until he resigned in 1971. His partner and brother-in-law, Gino Gervasoni who had been his partner since 1950 took over the role and remained until 1991. Two year previously the company was bought by the English company Vickers, who added Riva to their portfolio which also included the Rolls Royce brand. Gino Gervasoni departure from the company was the end of the Riva family’s involvement in company that they had made it world famous.
  9. Boat builder Giuliano Arcangeli, who had learned his profession in Switzerland, returned to Italy to work at the Riva boatyard between 1956 and 1958. He left Riva to start his own company nearby, with his friend Giovanni Besenzoni. With Giuliano crafting the wood and Giovanni responsible for the technical details, they started producing his own beautiful wooden boats. These boats include the Jolly, Super Jolly, Labrador and Commander and Enrico 1, which are sometimes mistaken as Riva boats. Visit Arcangeli Boats to find out more.
  10. The Arcangeli Centro Nautico in Salo, Lake Garda Italy is run by Giuliano’s son Alberto Arcangeli. The centre restores, repairs, maintains and stores Riva boats for their fortunate owners. There are actually only two Arcangeli boats at the centre one of which is a Jolly, that belongs to Alberto, the other is a Commander which is owned by the company Classic Boat Sharing.
  11. In May 2000 the Riva company returned to it’s Italian roots when it was purchased by the Italian Farretti Group. The tradition for quality, unique style and elegance was replicated in modern designs that remain true to their heritage. Riva’s evolution from the past to present is reflected in the Aquariva Super, which was built to replicate the Aquarama. Just like it’s legendary predecessor, the Aquariva has become the flagship model of the Riva collection. Visit the Riva-Yacht website to find out more abbout the modern Riva collection.

Book Your Riva Boat Ride on Lake Garda

It wasn’t too long ago that a Riva boat ride on Lake Garda was only possible for the privileged few who were lucky enough to own one of these magnificent machines. In recent years the possibility to hire a skippered boat has become a reality, although there are less than a handful of companies offering this service. The cost for a days hire with fuel was still a bit out of reach for the majority of holiday makers, but now we have found a partner which has changed all that. With the possibility to rent a Riva boat for just a half day, with fuel included the opportunity for a Riva ride on Lake Garda is now a reality for all.

Price: Half day from €900-

           Full Day from €1550

Prices based on departures from Gardone or Sirmione, departures from other towns will be more expensive and dependant on which part of the lake.

Enquire today by clicking the button below or by sending an email to [email protected] .