“La dolce Riva”: Italy’s traditional picket motorboats

Alberto Galassi is raving about his Riva, a 1970 picket Aquarama, shaped of cedar from Lebanon and mahogany. The CEO of the Ferretti Group, which now owns the Riva boat model, he took correspondent Seth Doane on a trip on Italy’s picturesque Lake Iseo, racing previous Riva’s manufacturing facility.

“Riva is past boating; Riva is a fable,” Galassi stated of the traditional Riva speedboats, which have been within the fingers of royalty, film stars, rock stars and tycoons. “Let’s be sincere. I imply, once you say, ‘I’ve a Ferrari,’ it’s worthwhile to say you ‘have a automotive’? Everyone is aware of what a Ferrari is. Riva is identical factor.”

Ferretti Group CEO Alberto Galassi takes correspondent Seth Doane for a spin in his 1970 Riva Aquarama.  

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Riva’s Aquarama, designed by Carlo Riva, debuted in 1962 throughout the glamorous la dolce vita years of Italy’s post-war increase. Stars together with Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor owned Rivas, and the boat itself performed a supporting function in dozens of movies, from “It Began in Naples” and “Oceans Twelve” to “Males in Black: Worldwide.”

And discuss product placement: Riva was featured in Portofino this Might, shuttling friends on the newest Kardashian wedding ceremony. “They’re the brand new Sophia Loren,” Galassi stated. “They speak to the brand new era. Why not? Occasions are altering.”


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And instances have modified for the corporate. Whereas these picket classics stands out as the spirit of Riva, the true cash in the present day is in super-yachts, which Galassi says account for round 70-percent of Riva gross sales.

Doane requested, “However how do you retain that sense of what made you well-known in that super-size?”

“That is our problem,” Galassi stated. “That is in particulars. Particulars that remind you of the earlier fashions, the fashion. It is bloody tough job, I can inform you!”

A few of these authentic design selections are nonetheless echoed many years later within the new Anniversario mannequin. It is a limited-edition tribute to the Aquarama, which Riva stopped producing in 1996, spawning a brand new enterprise: upkeep, the expensive strategy of conserving them up.

Riva’s Anniversario mannequin is launched on the firm’s shipyard in Sarnico, Italy. To mark the one hundred and eightieth anniversary of the Riva shipbuilding firm, they’re producing a restricted version of this design – 18 in all.  

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Richard Freebody confirmed Doane a 1963 Riva, drydocked for a tune-up at his boatyard on the Thames close to London. 

Doane requested, “What’s completely different a few Riva from one other picket boat?”

“That evocative feeling of the Sixties, and the glamour connected,” he replied. “It’s the design. They had been form of the equal of a stunning Cadillac on the water.”

A 1963 Riva being restored at Peter Freebody & Co. boatbuilders exterior London. 

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Freebody’s firm makes its personal picket boats, however with some updates. Electrical fashions nonetheless have extra conventional particulars, and extras, equivalent to a picnic drawer, “which is turning into fairly a must have,” he stated.

“All the pieces you want for a picnic?” requested Doane.

“Even a cake knife, for these afternoon teas by the river.”

“Very English!”

Again in Italy, at Riva, Doane noticed a few of that very same consideration to element, as Fabrizio Sonzogno sanded wooden for the Anniversario, which is able to get 20 coats of varnish. 

On the Riva manufacturing facility. 

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Doane requested, “How do you are feeling when engaged on a Riva?”

“It is stunning, as a result of that is the spirit of the wooden – you possibly can really feel it,” Sonzogno replied.

A traditional Riva design.

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Alberto Galassi is working to maintain Riva’s spirit alive, although he notes they’re going to by no means make an Aquarama once more, saying it could be a sin to attempt.

“It is a masterpiece,” he advised Doane. “In Italy we’re obsessed, I might say, with magnificence. Generally I say that we’re condemned to magnificence.”


“Condemned! As a result of we stay round magnificence. We’re surrounded by magnificence. One thing isn’t nice-looking, one thing isn’t stunning? It provides us shock. So, we will not stay with out.”

Sadly, most us will need to stay with no Riva. One instance, almost 50 years outdated, has gone up in worth to roughly three-quarters of one million {dollars}.

However for a couple of minutes, it was nonetheless fairly candy to get a style of la dolce Riva.

Tender loving care.

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For more information:

Story produced by Mikaela Bufano. Editor: Karen Brenner. 

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