From the outside, you notice it is huge and elegant. Well, not by chance because Giancarlo Maroni conceived it in the Twenties – he was the Italian poet D’Annunzio’s architect and had already built the famous Vittoriale degli Italiani, on the shore of Brescia of Lake Garda.

They built Hydroelectric Generating Plant of Riva del Garda between 1925 and 1929 and immediately became one of the first and biggest hydroelectric generating plants of that era. Their turbines were the biggest ones in Europe.

When we arrived, its majesty astonished us. The main façade houses the beautiful statue of Neptunesheltering from the lightings, created by the sculptor Silvio Zaniboni.

Discovering the Hydroelectric Generating Plant

The skilful Martin welcomes us, gave us a pair of headphones to listen to him better and guided us during the interactive visit. Martin immediately understood we are not well prepared and started from scratch. You know, we attended school years ago…

Well, that experience was thrilling and the multimedia devices made it even better. Visitors can discover how water turns into clean energy. The Hydroelectric Generating Plant of Riva del Garda is supplied by the water of Lake Ledro and the Ponale water stream. They channel the water to the plant through a 583-metre jump! The power generated by the waterfall is transformed in energy power that supplies the Italian energy network system. Their annual production is 100 GVh and, as Martin told us, it could supply the whole town of Pavia – that means 72,000 inhabitants).

After the interactive phase, we began the visit! It is incredible how they could build such a plant without the modern building tools and techniques. To prove that, on the third floor you can watch some black&white photographs taken during the miners’ hard work.

We wore a safety helmet and got into the tunnel, inside the mountain.

After a short walk inside, we got to the heart of our visit. The Hydroelectric Generating Plant of Riva del Garda has three floors – on the shore of Lake Garda, the engine room; 8 metres higher, the transformers and the assembly plant; on the third floor, the control center.

There we watched the simulation of what occurred inside that room when everything was run manually – now everything is automatized – and they needed to press buttons to check the proper operations of the Hydroelectric Generating Plant.

Such a “machine” is complex… and now it is almost self-sufficient.

Last but not least, the terrace overlooking the outstanding blue of Lake Garda, under the shining sunlight… Speechless! You can visit this amazing place with your family; your children will appreciate the interactive games – yes, I tried them too! Pushchairs are admitted, except for short sections of the route. The company group Gruppo Dolomiti Energia runs and takes care of the Hydroelectric Generating Plant of Riva del Garda and, thanks to their constant renovation works that fully respect the history of this precious building, people can visit it. For info and entrance fees, click here.

We will not bother you with technical explanations of the Hydroelectric generating plant. Martin and the other super skilled guides will surprise you. We just say it is an extraordinary example of engineering… you must come and visit it! Not only to let your children discover such a world, but even for us, who are “bigger”, this place is worth a visit because we often forget what’s behind a switch. Sometimes we should open our eyes wide to the human intelligence. Believe us, at the Hydroelectric Generating Plant of Riva del Garda, we behaved like children saying “ohhh”!