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The legend and the history of Riva speedboat

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The birth in 1842 …

The Riva shipyard was founded in 1842 by the shipwright Pietro Riva on the western shore of Lake Iseo, precisely in Sarnico, following a sudden and devastating storm, which caused irreparable damage to the fishing boats. This event led Pietro Riva to perform a real miracle, restoring many of these boats and earning the trust of the people.

There starts the Riva legend, a myth that still lives in these magnificent motorboats and in the memory of their creators, Pietro Riva, his son Ernesto and his nephew, the engineer Carlo Riva, a brilliant, visionary and unique man.

It was the latter to take a beautiful reality and turn it into a masterpiece of Italian boating.

The Thirties…

The Thirties were the years of the birth of the future genius of the shipyard, the engineer Carlo Riva, and were also characterized by the great successes of the company, with the launch of the first creations, which immediately stranded out in terms of class and personality. Quickly these boats gained notoriety and respect, especially after Ernesto, the son of Pietro, introduced the use of internal combustion engines on boats, and started the production of large boats for the transport of goods and passengers on the lake.

After the Great War, with Serafino, the production turns from transport to motorboating, giving the final imprint to this company with motorboats that through the Twenties and the Thirties gained countless records and victories in national and international competitions.

nascita cantiere riva

Carlo Riva’s age… the great Sixties

The climax of the fame and prestige of this shipyard came in the Fifties with the engineer Carlo Riva, when his motorboats became objects of desire for royal families, actors, sports champions, businessmen and celebrities all over the world.

The myth of the Dolce Vita, the Italian dream, and the jet set dominated by racing cars and their speed were the key elements that led Carlo Riva to create these luxurious specimens, giving birth to a series of motorboats in precious mahogany wood, characterized by an unmistakable design, such as the Riva Ariston of which he himself said:

“Designed with love, born strong and pure as a purebred horse. Unforgettable! My lord of the sea”

Then followed the Triton, the first twin-engine of the Riva shipyard, the Sebino, which inaugurated mass production and the Florida, an American model particularly popular in those years.

And it’s in November 1962 that came the myth: the presentation of the Riva Aquarama, the motorboat that became the most famous creation of Carlo Riva, and later became the historical icon of the brand. Produced in only 789 pieces worldwide, each numbered, it was distinguished by the typical Riva signed stern, which combines the walled surfaces, the deck and the transom in a single sculptural volume, creating a true work of art. A work of art that everyone admired and desired…

It was the year 1969 when the slogan for the presentation of Riva Aquarama immediately synthesized the soul of this boat: “Sun, sea, joy of life!”. An emotion available just to a few people (considering the cost of 10 million and 800 thousand lire), a dream for everyone.

Even today, these motorboats maintain the charme of that era: the age of paparazzi, divas with scarves, love stories for the magazines, luxury and elegance. And they keep alive the memory of their owners, celebrities such as Anita Ekberg, Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, King Hussein of Jordan, Gunter Sachs, the Shah of Persia, Prince Ranieri, Tonino Lamborghini up to George Clooney and Elle MacPherson. The Ing. Carlo Riva himself owned a magnificent Aquarama motorboat, the Lipicar, the last one in the line of production.


The legend of these wooden speedboats by Carlo Riva does not seem to end. In 2017 were proclaimed the 10 most beautiful Riva motorboats ever produced, and seven of them are models produced during the great era, signed by Carlo Riva between the Fifties and the Seventies.

The first position belongs to the Aquarama, icon of the Riva legend. Following its evolution in a modern way, the Aquariva, presented in the year 2000, is one of the greatest hits of the modern era for the shipyard, with more than 240 pieces sold. In third position, the Ariston, produced in the Fifties, an era of high speed that characterized the years of the Italian post-war industrial rebirth. Anita Ekberg fell in love with this motorboat, and wanted a personalized one with zebra-patterned upholstery.

The next one in order is another classic, the Tritone, designed and produced after the success of the Ariston, which represented a very important step forward in engineering with its twin-engine propulsion; then we have the Super Florida, it came in the Sixties but inspired by a very distant world, which made the planet dream with its movie stars. Riva got from America the idea for another successful motorboat, which followed the canons of American boats in vogue in those years, but with the unique touch of the Italian design.

In the end we have the Riva Saint-Tropez: born in the early ’70s it was only produced until the end of the year 1992.

Whether it’s modern or classic, they are all still Riva.

Riva and Lamborghini

The Riva Aquarama is considered one of the greatest motorboats in the world, and even Ferruccio Lamborghini, well-known owner of one of the most important Italian car industries, was attracted by this marvel of the sea, and decided to buy one as long as, in agreement with Eng. Carlo Riva, it was equipped with two Lamborghini V12 engines.

Riva and Ferrari

In 2016 Riva approached road racing too, as the official sponsor of the Ferrari team in the Formula 1 World Championship. On the helmets of drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen made its appearance the Riva logo, with its typical aquamarine color.

It was the return of an unrivaled binomial, the encounter of two mythological entities, together in the circuits and in the seas as in the Nineties when they worked together on the Riva Ferrari 32 and the Riva Ferrari 32 special.

Rent a Riva motorboat in italy

Why try this emotion? As Carlo Riva said on a billboard in 1960:

“Sun, sea, joy of life!”

These are the elements that will characterize the experience of renting a Riva motorboat, offered by Italian Marvel in multiple solutions, all highly customizable according to your needs and your desires.