Born on the shores of the Lago d’Iseo in northern Italy, Riva is today renowned for its sleek and powerful motor yachts. To have one of these impressive floating palaces at harbour in San Remo, Monaco, Puerto Banús, Ibiza or Porto Cervo remains a dream for oil sheiks and business tycoons alike, but the origins – and true spirit – of Riva lie not in the Mediterranean but in the paradisiacal lakes on the doorstep of the Alps.

So it is not fibre glass and carbon compounds but wood that is at the heart of this revered brand, for the company made its name through the majestic carpentry of its founder, Pietro Riva, producing yachts that were veritable wooden works of art. Before long these creations became a regular sight, adding to the beauty of emerald lakes, picturesque villages, grand estates and forested mountain ranges.

Always at the very forefront of the speedboat as it grew in power, beauty and finesse, Riva will forever be associated with the timeless glamour of its motorboats, the image of an Aquarama floating over the waters of Lakes d’Iseo or Maggiore as an inerasable expression of elegance and sophistication at its very best. Originally from Como himself, Pietro Riva links all these crystalline pools through the legendary creations he inspired.

Aquarama to Aquariva

The Riva Aquarama was the culmination of an evolution that had begun over a century before and reached a high point in a vessel of a design so pure and desired that it ranks amongst the finest Ferraris, Rolls Royces, jewellery and handcrafted antiques created. Launched in 1962, the Aquarama was grace personified, its gently curved wooden hull singing on the water amid the tasteful opulence of leather, chrome and wood decking. Royals, film stars, business magnets and sheiks all lost their heart to this little jewel, keeping it in production for 34 years not because it was so large, extravagant and boastful, but by the sheer force of its beauty and charm. Appearing wherever allure and sophistication were needed, the Aquarama featured in movies and adverts from James Bond and Oceans Twelve to Martini.

Such a creation simply could not die, and in the early 2000s Riva built upon the tradition with the equally graceful Aquariva, which has added an updated aesthetic to the craft that long embellished the beauty of places like Stresa, Ascona, Lugano, Como and Locarno. Slower and more luxurious, it is now above all cherished as a floating objet d’art and statement of style that continues to bewitch the eye.

The enduring fascination with these Rivas lies not only in their exquisite design and craftsmanship, but also in the romantic ideal they represent, recalling an era of Dolce Vita in which the rich, famous and beautiful of the time feature prominently. The lakes were a perfect backdrop for it all, adding beauty to beauty as both nature and the architecture of pretty little lakeside towns provided the true spiritual home of the Riva.

Like a match made in heaven, setting and manmade creation are here in perfect harmony, showing each other off at their best. But then again, when even the boat’s creator is called Riva – shoreside – I guess it was always going to be so.

This article was published in Villae International Magazine 9, the official magazine of EREN – The European Real Estate Network. You can also read the online version of the printed Villae International Magazine 9.