1630s, "Mediterranean seacoast around Genoa," from Italian riviera, literally "bank, shore" (see river). In extended use it refers to the whole coast from Marseilles in France to La Spezia in Italy, which became popular 19c. as a winter resort. Thence adopted (sometimes ironically) in reference to areas of other countries, as in American Riviera (Florida, 1887); English Riviera (Devonshire coast, 1882). Related: Rivieran.