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The Good Life

One would expect nothing less than 110 feet of elegant maximalism aboard Riva’s Dolcevita flagship.

Numerous alfresco areas define the Dolcevita.

Numerous alfresco areas define the Dolcevita.

I suspect we’ve all been there: stark naked in the bathroom at a fancy hotel, glasses out of reach on the bedside table, faced with a baffling array of gleaming chrome plumbing and wondering what to do next. How hard can it be to take a shower? Not hard enough, according to the designers, who seem to delight in thinking up elegant yet mysterious new ways of doing the simplest things.

To experience the same sense of bafflement in front of a wardrobe, however, was a new one for me. The doors of the hanging lockers aboard the new Riva flagship are tall, imposing, beautifully lacquered and entirely uncommunicative. No handle. No sign saying “open here.” No clue.

Visual mystery is something of a theme aboard the Dolcevita 110. It’s a svelte, streamlined and beautiful motoryacht with a hidden secret that doesn’t reveal itself until you’ve spent some time exploring. But if you make your way up to the forward seating area and turn to face aft, all is revealed. The starboard walkway leads to a companionway down to the side deck, where you can continue aft to the cockpit, or open the door into the interior. To port, the walkway runs directly aft to the sundeck.

It sounds logical and straightforward, and it is, but it’s also a radical piece of asymmetric thinking that makes getting through and around the yacht quicker and easier for guests and crew alike. And with the forward seating and the aft sunbathing areas connected on one level, it effectively creates a single, giant, on-deck entertaining space.

The reason we don’t see more of this sort of thing is probably because everyone expects boats to be symmetrical—which is certainly why Riva’s designers have made sure that the Dolcevita’s secret is in plain sight.

The yacht has another secret, but this one remains entirely out of sight. There is a stainless steel skeleton beneath the carbon fiber skin of the superstructure, which allowed the shipyard to install huge windows on the main deck with very thin vertical pillars that barely intrude on the view. They give the salon the feel of a modernist apartment, especially given its rigorously rectilinear layout and light-enhancing, high-gloss surfaces. If you feel compelled to let even more of the outside in, fold-down balconies can be fitted on both sides.

The foredeck and its hideaway Jacuzzi.

The foredeck and its hideaway Jacuzzi.

Step forward past the glass dining table and along the port side and you find the master stateroom, a truly impressive living space with huge windows and equally generous headroom, which on our particular 110 was fitted out in a striped tropical rosewood veneer known as palissandro, contrasting attractively with the white lacquer. Other finishes are available.

The four guest cabins on the lower deck are relatively equal in area, and laid out around a roomy central lobby. The forward cabin on the starboard side is fitted out as standard with sliding berths, and so can be made up as either a double or a twin. A drop-down Pullman berth can also be added here as an extra. Up in the bow, meanwhile, and accessed via the galley on the starboard side just forward of amidships, three crew cabins with en suite heads can sleep up to seven.

Throughout the interior, the level of detailing and the richness of the fit-out underline the fact that Riva is one of the most self-conscious of luxury brands. Beautifully executed stainless steel inlays, stitched leather facings, monogrammed door handles and massive lumps of carefully fitted marble will leave you in no doubt about the shipyard’s commitment to satisfying customer expectations. The Dolcevita’s interior might be avowedly modernist in concept, but it’s far from minimalist in execution—you can sense the opulence with your eyes closed. And whether or not it’s quite your thing, it is an undeniable pleasure to find oneself surrounded by so much quality.

For a fast motoryacht of this size, there is only one pair of engines that can do the job—the 2,368-hp V16s, which sit at the pinnacle of MTU’s compact and powerful 2000 series. Mounted flat in a spacious, bright and well-organized engine room with 6 feet, 10 inches of headroom, they drive straight shafts and have just one job: to propel the Dolcevita’s 120-ton mass toward its advertised 26-knot top speed.

Our sea trial took place in balmy conditions off Cannes, with a light chop that might have brought the odd splash aboard the 110’s Williams 505 tender, but was barely noticeable on the mother ship. We had seven and a half tons of fuel and water on board, and the impressive torque of the engines provided quite lively acceleration for such a big boat.

Riva Dolcevita 110

Riva Dolcevita 110

Once onto plane, the Dolcevita’s great momentum imparted a sense of implacable authority, and while she won’t win any prizes in the slalom, the steering was nevertheless taut and precise. With the interceptors and fin stabilizers set to auto—they were so effective it seemed sensible to just let them get on with it—we barrelled across the dark blue Mediterranean at a maximum of 26.8 knots, to the great satisfaction of the Riva chaps on board.

The captain recommended 2150 rpm as a comfortable and relatively efficient cruising speed. This equated to 22.7 knots with a fuel consumption of 192 gph. At that pace the 110 could in theory undertake a nonstop 450-mile passage in 20 hours, if you’re not averse to planing in the dark (I am). Minimum planing speed with the interceptor fully engaged worked out at about 17.5 knots at 1800 rpm, which would give a safe cruising range of well over 500 nautical miles.

Riva Dolcevita 110

Riva Dolcevita 110

It wasn’t just in fulfilling the promise of its advertised performance that the Dolcevita delivered. On our sea trial it showed itself to be a supremely accomplished machine which satisfies in all departments, whether your particular weakness is for lustrous lacquer work, luxurious relaxation spaces or solid engineering. Until the shipyard’s steel-built 164-footer is launched, the 110 is the honorary flagship of the current Riva fleet, which is no small responsibility. It’s easily up to the job.

As for those wardrobes, I did eventually figure out how to open them. The thin, vertical panels between the doors are spring-mounted. Push one in, turn your fingers through 90 degrees, engage the rabbet, pull. It means you have to open the right-hand door with your left hand, and vice versa, but hey—it works. It’s simple, elegant and baffling. They should install them in hotels.

Riva 110 Dolcevita_ (6)

The Test

Test Conditions: Seas: 2-3 ft
Load: Fuel: 1,487 gal.; water: 776 gal.; 14 people on board.

Riva Dolcevita 110 — Final Boat Test Numbers:










































Speeds are two-way averages recorded via Simrad GPS. GPH taken via MTU engine display. Sound levels measured at the helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation. Range is based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity.

Riva Dolcevita 110 Specifications:

LOA: 110'0"
Beam: 23'10"
Displ. (light): 273,373 lbs.
Fuel: 4,042 gal.
Water: 793 gal.
Power: 2/2,638-hp MTU 2000 16V M96L
Price: Upon Request

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This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.