Riva del Garda

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So far I’ve shown you Malces­ine and Limone sul Garda. I also took the boat to Riva del Garda at the north­ern end of the lake (which is also in a differ­ent province- Trentino). It was rain­ing all day, so I figured I might as well go to the colder, rainy end of the lake and visit the museum, and save the outdoorsy stuff on the south­ern end like archae­olo­gic­al sites for a sunny day.

From 1815-1918 Riva was actu­ally in Austria, and although it’s typic­ally Itali­an in many ways, there’s a defin­ite alpine influ­ence there (and a lot of German and Austri­an tour­ists). I had been there once before, in about 2000. A little while ago I dug up some photos I’d taken on a dispos­able camera then, and posted them here.

Riva del Garda didn’t look much differ­ent 16 years later, even a lot of the shops were the same (includ­ing the very weird little depart­ment store) although the café on the harbour that I’d remembered as being a bit expens­ive and having an eleg­ant art nouveau style sun balcony, and where I’d planned to sit and do some draw­ings of the lake, now had a tatty plastic front­age and was half-closed.

I don’t know wheth­er I remembered it wrong or was much more easily impressed in those days or the café has hit hard times or a combin­a­tion of all of those account for it, but I didn’t end up going there, and instead had a pizza.

Again I trav­elled there by boat. Sitting in the open seats at the prow was not so much fun when it star­ted rain­ing heav­ily, and I had to retreat to the cabin in the end.

The north­ern end of the lake is the most moun­tain­ous, with the coolest and wettest weath­er. In August when the rest of Italy is almost unbear­able, it’s utterly packed with tour­ists enjoy­ing the relief of the moun­tain chill, but in May they were thin on the ground.

Until Mussolini built this road around the lake, a lot of towns were only access­ible via boat. Riva had a train station with a line that didn’t really go anywhere much at one time, but it’s been closed since the 1930s.

Apart from a few small towns, there’s not a lot up this end of the lake, as the moun­tains are so steep.

It was not a busy day in Riva.

The streets are mostly narrow and cobbled, with restaur­ants, bars and a few clothes shops.

With moun­tains loom­ing up at the end of every street.

(photo from Museo Alta Garda exhib­i­tion)

While I was there, I visited the local museum, where they had an exhib­i­tion of photos of Riva del Garda in the 1920s. Aside from the clothes and number of street urchins (rare on the ground in modern Italy), Riva looked pretty much the same as it does now. Even most of the hotels had the same names. There was also an exhib­i­tion about the Itali­an Resist­ance in WWII in the area- large numbers of resist­ance fight­ers hid in the moun­tains nearby. Mussolini holed himself up in Salò after 1943, a bit further down the lake near the grand villa of Gabri­ele D’Annunzio (often described as the fath­er of Itali­an Fascism), where he ran what was left of his territ­ory from the small town until his assas­sin­a­tion in 1945.



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