Santa Barbara’s Riviera neighborhood is one of the most unique in the town, built along the steep hillside above downtown and below Montecito. Named for the beautiful Mediterranean villages of France and Italy, the Riviera boasts a wide array of precariously perched homes commanding the by far best views in Santa Barbara.
The area of the Riviera is broken into two parts: the Riviera and the Lower Riviera, Alameda Padre Serra road being the borderline. Tucked between Sycamore Canyon and Mission Canyon, the traditional Riviera neighborhood is bounded by Foothill at the north and N. Salinas Street and the Santa Barbara Mission at the South. The Lower Riviera runs below Alameda Padre Serra and flows into the Upper East side of Santa Barbara, closer to downtown. While the views may not be as grand in this region, the homes still retain much of the flavor for which the upper Riviera is beloved.
For the first few centuries of Santa Barbara’s history, the area that is now considered the Riviera was deemed uninhabitable due to its steep incline. It is not until the past century that this area between the canyons was established as a residential haven. The homes on the Riviera were built predominantly by twentieth-century Italian immigrants, a trait that is reflected in the architecture of the homes, the stonework details, and the roof tiling that can be found in many of the structures.
The only downside to the unparalleled views that Riviera residents enjoy is the difficulty of the roads winding through the neighborhood. Streets on the Riviera are as narrow as they are steep. For this reason, it is not a neighborhood easily navigated on foot or bike.
Riviera residents experience the area’s lush and varied foliage at Francheschi Park. Spanning the south side of the park, Mission Ridge Road is a favorite for runners and walkers.