Since it’s remembered, things have always fallen down towards the bottom, attracted by an invisible force. A force that men have always wondered about over the years. It has been called gravity. Even before its inner workings and the deep reasons had been found out, that are the same ruling the whole universe by the way, both Greeks and Romans used it as a source of energy. Thanks to the invention of the windmill, wheat and other cereals could be ground.
For thousands of years, the use of gravity was more or less the same. Until when, at the end of the 1800s, things evolved within a very short time. The world was urging on having the electric energy, and lots of it, to be able to support the production and the consumption demanded by the Industrial Revolution. The idea of the windmill was adapted in an updated version and the hydroelectric plants were born. They arrived also in Italy and mainly in the Alpine area, rich in water courses exploitable for this purpose. For the first half of the 20th century, and also during the post-war period, the mountains were modified, the creeks dammed, reservoirs and kilometer-long underground tunnels were created, in order to enable the exploitation of the water resources.
The same happened in Riva del Garda in the 1920s. It was decided to use the waters from the already-existing Lake Ledro, channelling it into a tunnel that would have sprung from in Santa Barbara, a little church perched on the rocky cliff overlooking Riva del Garda, and then fallen down into the underlying plant. The project of its construction was given to the architect Giancarlo Maroni, the same architect who designed the D’Annunzio’s Vittoriale and many other buildings and public spaces in Riva del Garda.
After almost hundred years of activity, the hydroelectric plant is still working, and also the technologies to make it work have evolved over these past years. If the main principle at the basis of the hydroelectric plants is pretty easy, their management not that much. Managing it is very complex, because the energy produced is not storable, and the consumption is not constant. This means that it is important to give the network only and always the amount of power it needs in that precise moment, nothing more and nothing less.
The last leg of Garda Trek, the Corona of Garda Trentino, includes the descent from Mount Baldo by cableway and the way back to Riva del Garda by ferry. This slow return, following the rhythm of the waves, is the perfect ending of a hiking session as much demanding as dazzling; from the lake, the gaze embraces in fact the whole hiking circuit, a sort of breathtaking summary of the accomplished mission.
Once in Riva del Garda, the impressive bulk of the hydroelectric plant welcomes us, one of the iconic buildings in Garda Trentino. Designed by architect Maroni, it is already visible from far away and has been marking the entrance to this Garda town since its construction for those who come from south. Nowadays, the hydroelectric plant opens its doors to the engineering and architecture lovers, and reveals the secrets of power production.