It was in 1842 that Pietro Riva travelled from Laglio, on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como, to Sarnico, on Lake Iseo, to repair some storm damaged boats that had defeated everybody else. It seemed an impossible task, but Pietro succeeded and earned fame as “master shipwright” who could work miracles. Very soon, he decided not only to repair boats and began to build boats unlike any anyone had built before him. This was the beginning of the rich Riva heritage.

In 1880, Ernesto Riva, one of Pietro’s sons, took over the Riva yard. While maintaining the tradition of impeccable quality and craftsmanship, he added another dimension to the Riva product: innovation. He began by fitting piston engines to his boats for the first time and built boats to carry passengers and cargo. It was Serafino Riva’s turn at the helm next. Under his management, he stopped producing passenger and cargo boats, launching Riva on to the embryonic power boat racing scene. On board his beloved racing boat, he was able to achieve a speed of 14 mph  in 1912.

Between the wars, driven by Serafino’s competitive ambition, Riva conquered a series of successes in national and international motorboat races. 

Not content to remain solely in this role, Riva increased its line to include boats built for pleasure as well. This was to be another turning point. In the 1950s, the Riva name, under the leadership of Carlo Riva, became a worldwide symbol of quality, elegance and status.

Thanks to uncompromising quality, attention to detail and the decision to use only the very best materials, Riva boats were chosen by kings and queens, princesses and sultans, actors and sportsmen, celebrities, the international jet set and business tycoons. Famous Riva owners have included Brigitte Bardot, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Prince Rainier, Aristotle Onassis, Peter Sellers and many others of equal stature.

Today, celebrities, well-known businessmen, entrepreneurs from all over the world and great fashion designers are still unable to resist the appeal of a Riva. The French Riviera, the emblematic place of this Dolce Vita, was the birthplace in 1959 of the Monaco Boat Service: its famous tunnel, which took over two year to dig out of the rock under the famous Grimaldi Palace, could accommodate about 100 Riva boats.





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