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The garden at the Steger Center

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Riva San Vitale, Switzerland

Since 1992, Virginia Tech’s European academic center has been housed in Villa Maderni, a beautiful and historic building in the Swiss municipality of Riva San Vitale. 

The Steger Center grounds, which cover just over an acre, include a spacious garden and patio and a gated courtyard bordered on one side by former horse stables. The center faces Via Settala, an ancient Roman road.

Riva San Vitale is a small town of about 2,600 people located in the Canton of Ticino, in the southern part of Switzerland, near Lugano. Italy's border is only 10 miles away.

Situated between two mountain peaks, Monte Generoso and Monte San Giorgio, Riva San Vitale is also located on the southern shores of Lake Lugano, providing students with many opportunities for recreational activities and beautiful lake views.

The town, though small, dates back centuries, and many local buildings are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance. The Riva San Vitale Baptistery, for example, dates from the 5th century and is the most ancient stonework Christian monument in Switzerland.

A street in Riva san Vitale
Riva San Vitale, Switzerland

Riva has everything students need for day-to-day life. There are various restaurants around town, as well as a post office, pharmacy, ATM, and supermarket. The Steger Center also comes stocked with bikes, guitars, yoga mats, basketballs, and soccer balls to use for recreational activities around town. The local middle school allows Virginia Tech students to use their basketball courts and soccer fields after the schoolday is complete.

Riva is served by the Capolago-Riva San Vitale train station, which is a 10-minute walk from the Steger Center. This station connects to many major rail stations, making travel throughout Europe simple. Many students take the 20-minute train ride to the city of Lugano for additional shopping, recreation, and sightseeing opportunities. The neighboring town of Mendrisio is a 20-minute pedal away via a convenient bike path. Buses provide a link to the train station, as well as nearby towns.

Video: A Day in Riva

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Photo Gallery: Around Riva