History of the shipyards
It was the year of “La Dolce Vita”: the footage by the same name, directed by the great Federico Fellini, appears in movie theatres whetting imaginations and starting a trend that would later change the shining and unforgettable sixties. The world revolved around the concept of the “Bon Vivre”, around the vices and virtues of the movie star, around luxury and show business. It’s under this lucky star that Bellini Nautica, founded by Battista Bellini, began its work. The dockyard, engraved like a jewel inside an ancient spinning mill factory on Lake Iseo’s banks, started the production of fine speedboats in mahogany and cedar handcrafted by skilled shipwrights. Soon the charm of luxury boats set sail from the small hamlet of Clusane landing in the shimmering lights of the great dockyards of Genoa, Paris, Zurich, Hamburg and Milan. The most successful models – Condor, Jonic, Atlantic, Atlantic Super, Astor and Iseo – tempting treats for collectors even today, proudly guarded as pieces of art
Following the long illness and death of Battista, his son Romano Bellini took over the company – by that time already established with more than 30 employees – and turned their attention towards the boat storage industry, leaving behind wooden boat construction. A bold decision, influenced by the introduction of fibreglass into the boating market, proved to be a success within the year. In the early eighties, Bellini Nautica began to target an even higher market, offering a range of services increasingly more exclusive.
Every task is performed according to the book, paying extraordinary attention to every detail: every time a boat is put into the water, it is taken back on land by the evening, washed, dried and covered.
In the quiet village of Clusane, surrounded by Lake Iseo’s waters, a thrilling revolution began. Bellini Nautica continues to grow, led by Romano’s indomitable entrepreneurial spirit. During those years he decided to start the construction of a new harbour, the first one on Lake d’Iseo. When it’s about Bellini, cliches and the ordinary fade away: although now far from the times of La Dolce Vita, the new ambition was to build an avant-garde harbour for the storage of boats, complete with breakwater. Hundreds of trucks filled with huge rocks reached the dockyard, during feverish and exciting months of hard work and planning.
The deed was successfully completed: the harbour became protected from the winds and, most importantly, became ready to face the dreadful “Sarneghera”, a violent rainstorm that every year arose from around the hamlet of Sarnico (from which it takes the name) and strikes Lake d’Iseo, later raging into the near Franciacorta.
Thanks to the new barrier the harbour was protected, nothing left to be afraid of, so Bellini Nautica started to provide customers with the summer storage service, something that was inconceivable before
The number of berths demanded increased drastically thanks to the smart moves of the previous years. For this very reason, Romano Bellini chose to keep on pursuing the investments path and decided to aim for another innovation: a brand new dockyard to widen the area dedicated to boat storage.
The new challenge was accepted: the creation of a new structure architecturally designed to effectively welcome as many boats as possible. Soon enough the ribbon is cut : the new dockyard, one of a kind, with an absence of bulky pillars and equipped with a ten tons crane, that at that time no other storage dockyard could boast. They kept on sailing on the path of growth, toward a new Dolce Vita
After an eighteen year long partnership with the Tullio Abbate brand, there was a turning point: Bellini Nautica switched to a new partnership with Cranchi, a prestigious sailing brand with which a partnership was desired for years. After a couple of settling months in which the company worked to align with the industrial mentality of its partner Cranchi, while still maintaining its own valued handcrafting know-how, sales increased.
Romano Bellini in those years personally took care of coordinating the storage of the boats, managing sales in the showroom and all the stages of the restoration of Riva’s vintage wooden speedboats. Those boats completed the exceptional services offered by the dockyard and were Romano Bellini’s greatest passion. Bellini Nautica was the first company that installed, in 1998, a paint booth just for the finishing of Riva’s speedboats.
The exponential rise of sales and the intense work rhythm led Romano to look for a new reliable associate to entrust with Riva’s wooden speedboat restoration. The choice came down to the greatest and fairest contender, Ugo Colleoni, who put to use his 25 years long experience in the navigation field. Together they founded a new company still placed among the most prestigious and skilled vintage boat restorers. A professional fellowship of the two genuine “Riva craft lovers” at the service of the “Rolls-Royces of the sea”.
Its the years of a lucky encounter, maybe meant to be, by a destiny bounded to the timeless allure of an extraordinary universe. Romano Bellini met doctor Norberto Ferretti, founder of the greatest Italian holding in the shipbuilding field, also owner of the Riva brand. Between the two, a warm relationship characterised by mutual esteem soon arose, so that after a few months they decided to embark on a new challenge together: painting the new fiberglass Riva models with metallic colours.
For Bellini Nautica that was an uncharted field but, as always, Romano wasn’t frightened by it, and without hesitation committed to the challenge. Before being able to obtain a good result, the first boat had to be painted three times, but nobody stepped back: there was a great goal to achieve. With tenacity and determination, Bellini Nautica hit the mark, becoming the exclusive painter for the Ferretti team, especially for the marvellous Riva’s masterpieces
Once again, the room isn’t enough: Bellini Nautica started to think about a new expansion and decided to build a new dockyard, of no less than 2000 square meters (21500 square feet), within walking distance from the historical headquarter. Romano, undaunted, aimed to leave his customers speechless: he decided to install inside the new dockyard a huge, purified and illuminated pool for the indoor testing of engines, waterlines, periodic service, winterizing and de-winterizing. The crane, this time of sixteen tons, allowed the storage of yachts with even larger dimensions. Customers welcomed the innovations with contagious enthusiasm: it appeared that somebody able to love their boats more than them had arrived.
After finishing his studies at Bocconi University, Romano’s eldest son Battista joined the company. The youngest member of the crew brought a breath of fresh air, innovation and the will to take on new challenges: the company turned up the heat and planned new investments.
It was now the time for a new harbour, much bigger and more functional than the previous one; designed from an energy saving and a low environmental impact perspective. The construction was welcomed by costumers and local administrations. Today, the harbour, entirely floating, can house around 100 ships, from 6 to 20 meters long (from 19 to 65 feet), every berth is equipped with energy and water.
On top of that, in line with the undertaken sustainable approach, Bellini Nautica installed on the roof of the dockyard an 100Kw PV system. Lastly, even the outside appearance has been renewed, the facades are covered with wood effect panels that create the illusion of a big approaching boat that recalls once again Riva’s speedboats and La Dolce Vita.
Discover the historic collection of Riva Boats, one of a kind
Riva characterises excellence and style. For this very reason, owning a Riva speedboat means owning a piece of nautical history, means navigating the water conscious of the fact you are driving a worldwide sailing jewel.
Forever a Riva fan and fascinated by its work, Romano Bellini gave life to a unique collection. He bought and restored vintage models, nowadays extremely rare and valuable, proudly giving his contribution in the diffusion of Riva’s prestige, handing down its history and preserving the memory of glorious and unforgettable times.
To share his passion and make it accessible to as many as possible, Romano Bellini transformed his private collection in an open exposition.
Visiting it is like reliving the excitement of a brilliant past, routing towards La Bella Vita and the fantastic years that followed.