Lake Iseo things to do in Riva di Solto Italy. Riva di Solto is a very characteristic Lake Iseo village and retains its authenticity.
Riva di Solto is a medieval town on the western shore of the Iseo Lake: Riva di Solto has preserved, more than the other surrounding towns, its medieval urban plan, especially in the center, where it hasn’t changed much over the years.
The town is closely linked to Solto Collina, a small town on the hill not far away from Riva di Solto. Riva di Solto links the Cavallina Valley with the lake, and it used to be a fortified harbor for the town on the hill, where in 1056, the Solto family settled.
In 1221 the Castle of Solto was owned by three different branches of the Solto family: Codeferri, Colombini, and Oldrati. Since there are no specific historical documents on this topic, the archaeological data helped reconstruct the village’s history: the well-preserved architectural buildings of Riva di Solto show that the town was erected in the XIIth century, when the first houses were built.
In 1222 the town got under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Bergamo: during this period, many buildings were built by skilled craftsmen. During the XIVth century, the Foresti family took control of the town: the Foresti was a very powerful family that used to control all the area around the Iseo Lake.
In 1331 the emperor Louis IV the Bavarian founded the County of Solto, appointing Matteo Foresti as Count Palatine.
In 1427 the Carmagnola conquered the area of Sebino, which became a property of the Republic of Venice, ousting the Foresti family; at this time, Venice codified a “constitution” that would rule the Sebino area: the government was led by a captain, a Podesta and a deputy appointed by the Republic of Venice, while local people chose the mayor and the council.
In 1449 Riva di Solto and Solto rejoined Castro under Bergamo’s municipality; later on, these towns would form the Community of Solto, which included several nearby villages.
In 1742, the community broke up, and the autonomous municipality of Riva di Solto was established: it increased in demography when also the towns of Zorzino and Gargarino got under the municipality of Riva di Solto, now they became hamlets, territorial subdivisions of Riva di Solto.
Count Martinoni ordered the construction of a villa overlooking the lake and also the road that joins Riva di Solto with Tavernola: in the spring of 1909, the Bogn tunnel was built (a massive lime-stone cliff that creates a bay between Riva and Castro), and a few years later the road was opened to the public.
The town became increasingly important because of the extraction of black marble in the nearby town of Zù, a marble used to construct the Church of San Marco in Venice.
Today the marl for cement is extracted too. Starting from the last century, the town became an important touristic destination, thanks to the beauties of the Iseo Lake and its well-preserved ancient architecture.
But what are the things to do in Riva di Solto Italy?
Things to do in Riva di Solto Italy
- See the town seen from the pier.
- The pedestrian and panoramic lakefront
- Porto Street n 4 and the private alley
- Village of Zorzino
- Via Porto 4 and the private alley
- Church of San Rocco
- Church of SS. Hippolytus and Cassian (Gagarino)
Porto Street n 4 and the private alley
In the area between Torre Street and Cavalli Alley, some of the oldest medieval houses were built by the lake between the XIlth and Xlllth centuries. Torre Street used to be crossed by a stream flowing from the Terlera Valley, the eastern natural border protecting the country. Here the houses were built on the banks of the stream.
In Porto Street n°4, there are several medieval buildings: on the right of the arch, on the corner between two streets, used to stand a building (yellow) made of limestone coming from Riva di Solto: the stones were laid parallel using a lot of mortar; the surface has stilature (traced in the mortar) which are dated back to the XIIIth century.
At the same time, another building was built on the left side of the arch (yellow).
In Porto Street n 6H you can see the oldest pillar in the middle of the surface (yellow) made with stones laid with mortar with stilature of the XIIth century.
In the past, the pillar was part of a construction made of stones and wood: fishermen used to live here in this house. A medieval house of the XIIIth century stands on the left of the pillar: the entrance has an archivolt (brown).
On the right side of the pillar is a house (yellow and orange) similar to the house described above. Besides these buildings, there aren’t other medieval houses on the hill, with only crop fields.
In the XIIIth century, a building boom occurred in town: several houses were built, first by the lake, then on the hill. Since there was no more space to build on, constructors would link the facing sides of some houses through walls and arches: that’s why the alley is covered in part near the lake.
The barrel-vaulted roof is visible in the Cavalli, Rossetti, Crescini and Fonteno Alley; the ground floor of the houses would support the upper floors.
On the first floor, visible on the lakefront (orange), the stones of the building are linked together with a mortar and the stilature looks more regular.
On the second floor, the masonry has an archway window made of monolith stones. Also, in the western Galli Alley, there are other medieval buildings: only some parts of the masonry are well-preserved, and the others have been covered with modern plasters, so the limits of the ancient buildings are no longer visible.
Some parts of the entrance are left intact on the east side, and on the opposite side, an archivolt and a little window of the XIIIth century are still visible.
The Tower and the fortified fence
During the Middle Ages, Riva di Solto was defended by several medieval towers drawn on the coat of arms together with the image of Lake Iseo.
According to tradition, Riva di Solto used to be called The town of the seven towers, but today only four towers are left, and the only one still in good condition: is the tower on Torre Street.
Two towers were located outside of the town to defend and control the settlement: the tower of Torre Street, on the eastern shore of the lake, and, on the opposite side, the tower of Montagnola Street, which were built halfway on the hill.
Within the settlement, two towers are very close to each other: one in Rossetti Alley and the other in Cavalli Alley, both situated by the lake. The tower of Torre Street used to stand outside the town, where a stream used to flow from the Terlera Valley.
This stream was a natural limit that would protect the village; this street slopes down. The tower was strategically built by the lake to control those who would arrive in town sailing and to protect the eastern horizon against enemy attacks coming from the towns of Castro and Lovere.
Riva di Solto used to be an offensive town. The tower has been preserved in perfect condition: it is a masonry construction, which has never been restored. Its stones are made of clay from Riva di Solto: the central part of the stones and the strips were chiseled out.
The strips are used to frame the blocks irregularly: this technique is called “rustication”; the stones were laid parallel using mortar. Skilled craftsmen built the tower. At the top of the tower are some well-preserved parts of pillars, though not covered by any roof; there is no access to the building, but it is widely supposed that it had three floors connected through some trap doors and some wooden ladders.
On the eastern side, you could enter the building; the entrance was 2.50 m away from the street level, and you would enter by hanging a removable wooden ladder to the two holes below the door.
On the upper south side, there is an archivolt window that provided its users with a better view of the lake, while on the others side, the loopholes would help defend against assaulters. The building used to be surrounded by a perimeter wall bordering with an irregular fence enclosing the residences of the lords of Riva di Solto, who ordered the construction of the tower.
A part of the wall, 20 m long, is still visible on the eastern side of Torre Street: the original part (the one closest to the road) was made in the rustication style, and the stones were laid regularly. Above this part, two lines of stones have been recently restored as the originals. Large square-shaped stones are still visible at the bottom of the enclosure wall on the northern side.
Riva di Solto’s lords’ request was to build a small fortress on the eastern end of the town where to shelter in case of danger. The tower and the fence were built in half of the XIII century when the town’s power was at its highest. They were built in an undefended area that used to be protected only by the river.
Even in the XIX century, as shown in a Napoleonic cadastral map that dates back to 1810, that area was isolated from the rest of the town. The fortified buildings of Riva di Solto are similar to other fortified structures of the Cavallina Valley (Bianzano, Colognola, Trescore, Gorlago) and the towers of Cividate, Camuno, and Pisogne, towns located on the opposite shore of the Iseo Lake.
The Bogn is a suggestive inlet where vertical rocks plunge sheer into the lake, a natural bay with a pebble beach for bathing.
Restaurants in Riva di Solto
Here’s where to eat in Riva di Solto.
Bellavista Pizzeria Restaurant
At the Ristorante Pizzeria Bellavista, you can enjoy good food with a beautiful view of Lake Iseo.
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