As mentioned, we had only spent the one night in Riva, and were limited to staying within the ancient walls of the old city.
We wandered down to the harbour area, and in the center of the piazza, stood the Apponale Tower, 34 meters high, built in the XII century for defensive purposes, primarily as a watch tower overlooking the approach to the seafront.
At the very top of the tower you will find the famous Anzolin de la tor, a revolving tin angel which has become the symbol of Riva, which we never saw because it was dark.
The Rocca or fortress (built 1124) was originally Roman but enlarged and altered over the centuries. It is four-sided, with towers, and is set in the lake and connected to the mainland by a drawbridge. In the 19thh century the Austrians turned it into a barracks and it now contains the Civic Museum and Library - we did not visit this as prefer to be outdoors when the sun is shining. Some maintenace work was being made around the moat are which detracted from its overall view. The baby moorhens were cute though :-0
The Apponale Tower dominates the main square of Riva by the waterfront where the boats dock - Piazza III Novembre. It can normally be climbed via its 165 steps for views over the lake - when bot hazy! Plus during our visit we didn't find it open, I think some maintenance work was being undertaken, any way we enjoyed it from the outside. The tower was first mentioned in town archives in 1273 but almost certainly pre-dates this - being used as a defensive watch tower. Its 34 metre high and houses the town bell called "Renga". (1532). Right at the top isa weather vane with an angel - "Anzolin de la tor" - the symbol of Riva.
This is a very pretty village not far from Riva and nestled at the foot of Mount Baldo. We walked around the shore of the lake to get here from our hotel in Riva, a pleasant little hike, it did not take long and on arrival we still had plenty of energy to explore the lower reaches of Mount Baldo.
Piazza Cavour provides an ancient gateway to the old town (mostly pedestrianised) with San Michele's arch now being used as a church belltower and the Collegiate church of Santa Maria Assunta which has nine marble altars with remarkable altar-pieces by Giuseppe Craffonara (1790 - 1837) and by Giambettino Cignaroli.
If you want a more strenuous hike then then on the west side of Riva, near the ring-road a footpath leads up in about 30 minutes to the Bastione, a Venetian fortress of 1508. Further walking for about an hour and you'll arrive at the alpine hut Capanna sociale di S. Barbara and close to it the small Church of santa Barbara, which was buit by miners in 1935 - both are lit up at night on the hillside too.
The Palazzo Municipale is a lovely building and its worth going through the archway at its other end to admire its architectural features such as it tower and staircase adjoining it. The view back through the arch to the piazza also makes a lovely frame to the sqaure.
I cannot remember too much about this place, I don't think we spent very long here, but definitely unforgettable were the views from the top of Castello Scaligero. The castle itself is an interesting place to explore and housed an art exhibition when we visited although I don't know if this is a permanent fixture.
My good friend Patrizia (VT WXWXR ) suggest me to mention a nice trail to walk. It is the old road for Val di Ledro and worth to take.
It starts at the estreme end of Riva, opposite the side from Rovereto, near an old electric power central.
There are also many other walking trails, ask your hotel for a map.
The Northern part of the Lake is really very scenic, much better than the bottom. The lake get really narrow, it is surrounded by mountains and the wind come right into it making it the perferct place for those who love windsurfs and parasailing. Unfortunally the day I was there it was too early in the morning and the wind didnt started yet, but I can assure you that when the wind is up the lake is covered of sails.
So what you want to do than is get high up and find a good panoramis spot.
I can suggest you two.
The first one, if you arrive to Riva del Garda from the A22 Brennero freeway you will get off at Rovereto sud and you will drive toward the lake downhill. When you start to see the lake, after a couple of curves you will see a parking lot on your right. The view there is the one my pic.
Second one, It is a castle (Bastione) you can see from the town center, from up there you will have a wonderfull view of the city and the lake.
Piazza III Novembre itself is partially surrounded by fourteenth century porticoes and tempting cafes to linger in. The Apponale Tower we have already seen is on one side and opposite it are two palaces, the fourteenth century Palazzo Pretorio and the fifteenth century Palazzo Municipale.
Like many resorts on Lake Garda the promenades make for delightful easy walks and Riva particualry has lush vegetatin and park around to enjoy. Better to enjoy a stroll before 4pm though when the wind tends to get up - Riva and neighbouring Torbole are popular resorts for wind surfers for this reason!
From Riva del Garda you can do several boat trips to various villages or towns. There are ferries, hydrofoils and motorised catamarans that opearate all year.
For instance you can go to Limone and Malcesine.
Limone. Its name comes from the latin word “limen”, which means border. It lies on the north-western shore of the lake. It's a small town with cobbled streets, some churches and various shops, cafes and restaurants.
Malcesine is located almost opposite Limone. Its main sight is the castle which was probably built the first millenium a. C. by the Longobard. It was destroyed in 590 by the Franks and then rebuilt by them in 806. From 1277 to 1387 it belonged to the Della Scala family. Up to the 1403 it was in the hands of the Visconti family . From the 1405 to 1797 it was part of the Serenissima with the exception of 10 years starting from 1506. The French owned it during Napoleon's times and The Austrians from 1798 to 1866. The castle houses some small museums.
The easier, cheaper and more relaxing thing to do is just walk along the lake's shore. The municipality keep it up a lot, there are flowers and big old tree and several benches where to sit and enjoy the wonderful view and the company.
During the summer there are often free concert and exhibits.
Lago di Garda have a good ferries service. There are official boats run by the local sailing company and many tourist boats that can take you all over the place. If you dont have a car to drive around, of if you just want to have a relaxing day away from the narrow curvy roads you can decide to jump on one of this ferry and start exploring the lake in a different way.
For the public service go look at the attached link.