The Riva boatyard was established in 1842 on Lake Iseo in Sarnico, Italy after a devastating storm damaged the boats of the local fishermen. A young shipbuilder and craftsman – new to the area and named Pietro Riva – repaired most of the crafts, thus winning the trust of the locals. This was the beginning of the legend of Riva.
Riva rapidly gained great respect and recognition for creating boats of unmatched style and personality. Ernesto Riva succeeded his father Pietro and introduced internal combustion engines on Riva boats, thus giving rise to an era of large cargo and passenger boats operating on the lake. After World War I, Serafino Riva turned the boatyard’s precious crafts into a real brand; emphasis shifted from transportation to power boating, which at the time was still dawning.
The 1950s were the years of Serena‘s designer Carlo Riva, who had been driven by boundless passion for boats and the family business since he was a child. Riva, by then, had become synonymous with elegance, status and perfection. Selected materials of the highest quality, a painstaking care for the tiniest details, unparalleled, long-standing expertise and craftsmanship – Riva’s creations became the object of desire for the aristocracy, award winning athletes, successful businessmen and movie stars.
In the decade of the Italian industrial revolution, dominated by the myth of speed and racing cars, “l’Ingegnere”, as Carlo Riva is called, sensed the importance of this phenomenon and created a series of wooden yachts characterized by unique, unmistakable design features.
In September 1969, Carlo Riva, frustrated by a tough union climate, sold the shipyard to the U.S. company Whittaker, maintaining the role of Chairman and General Manager, from which he resigned in 1971.
Today, the Ferretti Group of Italy owns Riva and maintains the original shipyard in Sarnico as well as a production center in La Spezia.