Port Hercules is nestled between the two extremes of Monaco. The imposing skyscrapers on the slope of the mountains on one side, and the Rock of Monaco, the Principality's oldest district and home to the medieval Prince’s Palace, on the other. The beautiful Riva boats floating in the harbor’s salty Mediterranean waters carry the same mix of old and new—innovation and tradition.
They include the entire fleet of Riva models, from classical runabouts designed in the ’60s to the new generation of Rivas such as their latest creation, the 110-ft. Dolcevita yacht. “A Riva is more than a boat, it is a dream,” says Lia Riva about the brand that bears her family name. “For many people, I meet around the world, a Riva is the equivalent of a Ferrari, it’s something mythical; they have seen the boats in classic movie scenes and long to own one—if they do not already do so.”
She is the President of the Monaco Boat Service (MBS), which offers assistance to Riva owners and is the exclusive dealer of Riva yachts in Monaco and France. The MBS was founded in the 1950s by her father Carlo—the creator behind the “dream” that Lia refers to. But the story goes further back than that; it originated in northern Italy in 1842. After a storm on Lake Iseo, the fishing fleet had been severely damaged, and the young shipbuilder Pietro Riva gained the respect of the locals after restoring several of the vessels. He soon started his own shipyard in the small town of Sarnico, at the foot of the lake.
The business stayed in the family, and it was Pietro’s grandson Serafino Riva who, after the First World War, changed the focus from transport vessels to motorboats. The next decisive step for the brand came when his son Carlo took over. In 1954, he built a larger, modern shipyard in Sarnico—the Riva Shipyard—and started ramping up production. Lia Riva was then four years old and lived with her family in a house not far away. She and her sisters loved spending time among the boats that were being built.
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