Italy annexed the Trentino region only in 1918. This long wait of about fifty years, nourished in the people of the territory - who were Italian by tradition, but politically under Austrian government - a strong feeling of being "Italian", which defined a lively political and cultural mood. Irredentism, a political and cultural movement, developed, above all in Riva del Garda. With Irredentism, an élite group of intellectuals reclaimed their belonging, and that of the Region, to Italy. On the one hand, the ideas of Homeland, Nation, and Liberty spread rapidly; on the other hand, as a reaction to Austrian conservatism, great attention to progress, technological innovation and inventiveness became widespread. The free character of the Riva’s inhabitants, who, helped by the pleasant climate of the place where two geographical areas met (the Habsburg emperor and the Reign of Italy), invested in «the business of foreigners » and transformed the little town into the capital of mid-European tourism, thus preventing the isolation of Riva as a peripheral territory of the Habsburg emperor. Riva adapted itself to the needs of increasing tourism, an activity which turned out to be more and more significant for the local economy, yet it did not reject its Italian spirit. The essay outlines the significant political, economic and urban renewal of Riva, also characterized by important interventions in the urban structure of the town, due to a lively local milieu who, from the 1850s, encouraged klimathoterapie (a healthcare therapy favoured by the particular climatic conditions of the place).
Keywords: Riva del Garda - Conservatism - Irredentism - Urban Transformations