Bellini Group. Excellence and passion


A short history of Riva boats

A short history of Riva boats

Riva boats are synonymous with elegance, style, and the ultimate comfort – and it’s been like this for decades. When you want something exquisite, well designed, reliable, and durable, Riva is the go-to line of boats and yachts.

It all began in the town of Sarnico

The beginnings of the Riva brand take us back to the year of 1842, in the town of Sarnico, at the shores of Lake Iseo. A big, unexpected storm came down on this small fishing place, and the damage done to the fishing boats was enormous.

It was then that the fisherman urged a newcomer to the town to help them get back on track. The man had recently come to Lake Iseo, from Laglio. He was a shipbuilder, and his name was Pietro Riva.

Pietro agreed to help the local fisherman, and he repaired the boats. But he didn’t stop there. Soon after helping the locals, he went on to build his shipyard and launched the first boats in the waters of Lake Iseo.

A new shipyard business

Not long after he started his new shipyard business, Pietro Riva became well known for his high-quality boats. Pietro’s son developed the company further by introducing engines with internal combustion. More success lay ahead.

In the 1920s, the Riva company started becoming what we now think of it. A synonym for utmost comfort and pure craftsmanship. The third-born son of Ernesto Riva, Serafino, decided to focus more on powerboats and started promoting Riva products at speedboat races, to solidify the brand.

In the following decades, the company became more prominent in the boating world and famous for its beautifully crafted boats and yachts.

Craftsmanship and passion for a new generation of Riva yachts

There came a time for the fourth generation of Riva builders. Serafino’s son, Carlo, realized the importance of paying attention to even the smallest of details. He wanted the design of Riva boats to be crafted beyond anything that the company had done up to that point.

The times were quickly changing, and Carlo wanted the Riva brand to stay ahead in the race for speed boats and yachts. In 1956, he began working with the architect and designer, Giorgio Barilani.

This collaboration soon ushered in a whole new generation of Riva yachts that were known and praised for their beautiful design and features. Those four most famous yachts are the Ariston, the Tritone (which was the first yacht with two engines), the Florida and the Sebino.

But Carlo Riva didn’t want to invest only in luxurious yachts, as he knew that Riva was just as synonymous with speedboats. So he went on to develop a new, Italian style of motorboats.

Design, excellence and style

The 1950s was a time of significant improvement and innovation, but the start of the following decade brought about a breakthrough. In 1962, one of the most famous Riva boats was created. Its name was the Aquarama, and it soon became a hallmark of Riva design, excellence and style.

In 1969, Riva revealed the Bahia Mar 20’ and the Sport Fisherman 25’, the first composite-material models. Yet wooden models remained the most popular and continued being made well into the ‘90s.

A tradition that will continue to flourish

The year 1969 saw another major change. Carlo Riva sold the shipyard to an international company, the Ferretti Group, but remained at the head as General manager until his resignation a few years later. However, the brand Riva continued developing and flourishing. Riva boats still have their unique design, familiar traits, reliability, and a tradition of over a century and a half.

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