RIVA DEL GARDA | TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE
Riva del Garda is situated at the northern end of Lake Garda in the Trento Province of the Trentino Alto Adige Region. Known as "Benacus" by the Romans, the town is on a small plain formed by the rivers of the Sarca Valley. The entire valley is surrounded by 2000 meter peaks of the Alps and Prealps.
Lake Garda is one of the most popular of the lakes in northern Italy, and Riva del Garda is among the highlights of a visit to the lake. The town has a fortress dominating the lakefront area and an interesting old town to explore full of narrow cobbled streets and pretty shady squares. The favourable climatic conditions of the region can best be seen in the Mediterranean vegetation like agave, rosemary, prickly pears and oleander grow spontaneously while among the cultivated plants, the olive-tree is very common. In Roman times the town was a commercial centre of great importance due to its location on the shores of the Garda Lake and because of the closeness of the Sarca River.
HISTORY OF RIVA DEL GARDA
In the middle ages Riva del Garda was a fiefdom of the Bishop of Trent, but control of the city was often contested by other Italians such as the Venetians, the Scaligeri from Verona and the Visconti from Milan, as well as by foreign powers including the Tyrolese, Austrian, Germans and French. Despite these many challenges the city always retained a certain autonomy. Having started the 20th century as part of the Austrian Hapsburg Empire, Riva del Garda became part of Italy after World War 1 and part of Germany during World War 2. It is now firmly established in Italy, although the Austrian-German heritage can be seen in the architecture of the town. Because of the quality of its climate and some first-rate sanatoriums Riva del Garda was also visited by many literary personalities including Goethe, Nietzsche, Mann, Kafka and others. There is now significant modern expansion around the old centre of the city and the local economy in Riva del Garda relies on both tourism and certain industrial activities.
WHAT TO SEE WHEN VISITING RIVA DEL GARDA
Your visit to Riva del Garda should start at the 'Rocca'. This fortress was founded by the Scaligeri family from Verona in the 14th century then restructured by the Venetians in the 15th century and also later by the Lords from Trent. The fort is now home to the impressive collections of the Civic Library and the Civic Museum.
Next take a stroll around the port area of Riva del Garda, a lovely place for a promenade, a coffee and an ice-cream. As well as the pastel coloured houses overlooking the lake you can also see the ruins of the fortifications that were erected in the Middle Ages to defend the port. A visit to the Apponale Tower, a 13th century clocktower in the centre of the harbour area, is also interesting with the view from the top of the tower the main attraction. From here you should then visit the two palaces in Riva del Garda that were inspired by Venetian architecture: the Palazzo Pretorio and the Palazzo Vecchio. Continuing on from here you arrive in the Piazza San Rocco which has many monuments and palaces of both medieval and contemporary style due to the restructuring of the town centre during the last century.
You can now explore the Città Vecchia (Old Town), the historical centre of Riva del Garda where you can see some interesting baroque style palaces. Enter the old town by the "Porta-Torre of San Marco" or the "Porta-Torre of San Michele". Also to admire in this part of Riva del Garda is a baroque style church called "Della Disciplina" and the "Assuntas Church". More buildings in both Renaissance and Baroque style can be seen along the "Viale Roma" such as the Chiesa dell Inviolata church, while the 'San Michele fuori le mura' is a church of medieval origin. Your tour of the town can be concluded with a walk on the "Lungomare Brescia", created by restructuring some ancient structures and dating from the 19th century and the First World War.
WHAT TO DO IN RIVA DEL GARDA
- A short walk from Riva del Garda also takes you to the Varone Waterfall, about 100 metres high and well worth the walk.
- Lake Tenno and Lake di Ledro, both of which are in scenic positions surrounded by mountains.
- You might not guess given the location of Riva del Garda, but it also has a very popular windsurfing centre based at nearby Torbole, with a reliable wind from the mountains blowing out across the lake.
- You will also find a good sized pebble beach on the edge of Riva del Garda.
- The other resorts around the shores of Lake Garda can also be reached using the ferries that regularly cross the lake, although from here it is quite a long boat journey to reach those at the southern end of the lake such as Sirmione. You can also circumnavigate the lake by car or bike.
- Heading north from here and away from the lake you reach Arco, a picturesque village and a good place to start more adventurous excursions into the dolomites. Further north you reach the 'real' mountains and winter ski resorts such as Madonna di Campiglio.