There’s no area in Italy that offers “water lovers” such ideal, easy cycling through beautiful countryside and villages in Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna. You’ll pedal along the River Po (if navigation on the river is possible) or along the Fissero/Bianco canal, which runs parallel to the Po and connects Mantua to the Adriatic Sea.
Our comfortable “floating home” makes its way through a unique landscape and stops at towns that seem to have emerged from fairy tales. Highlights include fantastic Chioggia, often called “Little Venice”; Ferrara, meeting point for many local and international cyclists; Etruscan Adria; the delightful islands Pellestrina and Lido and romantic Venice, the “City of Water”.
The bike trails offer similarly dramatic scenery with daily routes all completely over flat roads and bike paths. Bikers have a unique opportunity to experience largely untouched nature, seeing swamps existing for several centuries and surrounded by lovely pine woods. Here natural watercourses, minuscule channels and fishermen’s huts hiding in the reeds are waiting to be discovered. Your cycling companions are an international group of cycling enthusiasts who enjoy a relaxed pace, great Italian food and flat, safe bike routes. Bring your camera! This is a reasonably priced Italian vacation you’ll never forget!
Day 1: Arrival in incomparable Venice!
Our comfortable barge is moored at Certosa Island in Venice and is easily reached by “vaporetto” from the train station in Venice. Your cabin is available at 4:30 PM. After meeting your cycling companions, guide, captain and crew and storing your luggage in your cabin, there is time to wander around on the island. Dinner will be at 7:00pm, followed by a preview of the week’s highlights and cycling itinerary by the tour guide.
Day 2: Venice – free day
You’ll rise today to a wonderful view over the scenic Venetian lagoon! It is impossible to cycle the narrow, crooked streets and innumerable steps to Venice’s romantic bridges so today is a day for you to explore by foot the many wonders of magnificent Venice, the capital of the “Repubblica Serinissima”, the Serene Republic. You will have the option to join a guided tour. You also might like to visit Murano, another island in the Venetian lagoon where gorgeous glass has been blown by Italian artisans for more than 700 years.
Day 3: Venice to Chioggia – 18 miles
Our morning consists of easy flat biking over two narrow islands which build the border between the sea and the lagoon. First we cross to Lido, one of the most impressive resorts for the rich and famous and the home of the Venice Film Festival. Then we ride on to Malamocco, the first seat of the Republic of the Doges. A short boat cruise then takes us to Pellestrina Island, a more authentic fishermen island. Later we’ll reach the nature reserve “Ca’Roman”. In the early afternoon we’ll cross over to bustling Chioggia, a “Venice in miniature” where you’ll find great medieval architecture and a famous fish market. An early morning stroll here tomorrow is an absolute must!
Day 4: Chioggia – Porte Viro – Adria – 25 miles.
A morning stroll through Chioggia’s fish market is recommended and, time allowing, a visit up the millennial clock tower – the oldest in the world – for some breathtaking views. Our cycling resumes southbound, into the delta of the imposing Po. This unique wetland park is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to a colony of flamingos. We overnight in Adria, an ancient Greek port once close to the shores of the sea which bears its name, also renowned for its Etruscan and Roman heritage.
Day 5: Adria – Ferrara – Zelo – 22 miles by bike and 22 miles by bus
After a short morning boat ride we’ll cycle to medieval Ferrara, nicknamed the “city of bicycles”. Ferrara’s well preserved historical center is still surrounded by spectacular old city walls. The town has broad streets and numerous palaces dating from the 14th and 15th century. Because of its beauty and cultural importance Ferrara has been qualified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. In the afternoon a bus will bring us to our floating hotel in Zelo for the night.
Day 6: Zelo – Mantua (Mantova in Italian) – 30 miles
Today we’ll sail to Torretta on the Fissero Bianco canal. From here we follow the River Po to Ostoglia, a small village with ruins of a medieval fortress. From there we pedal on to Mantua, beautifully surrounded by lakes on three sides. Mantua was once one of the greatest Renaissance Courts in Europe and home to the wealthy Gonzaga family. Today it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic center features dozens of fascinating piazzas, churches, monuments and courtyards and is one of the most beautiful Renaissance towns of Northern Italy and a fitting place to end our wonderful bike-barge vacation.
Day 7: Mantua Round Trip – 25 miles
An entire day dedicated to the discovery of this little visited cultural gem, its three picturesque “”lakes”” formed by the Mincio, and its surrounding countryside – once a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family. In the late afternoon a local guide will lead you through the most known highlights of the town.
Day 8: Departure in the morning after breakfast.
Cabins are available on Day 1 at 4:30 PM. Dinner and a welcome meeting are at 7 PM. A map and the name of your boat will be sent to you after receipt of your final payment.
The cook prepares all meals: a substantial breakfast and a three-course dinner of excellent quality. A packed lunch may be prepared after breakfast. Tea and coffee will be ready when you arrive on board in the afternoon. There is a bar on the boat with beer, wine and soft drinks at reasonable prices.
Check out our Tour Calendar under “Bike and Barge Tours”
8 days/7 nights
- – 7 nights on board the ship (sheets, blankets and two towels)
- – 7 breakfasts, 6 packed lunches and 7 dinners
- – 21-speed hybrid bicycle rental, including helmet, pannier, water bottle, lock
- – Tour guide on bike (multilingual)
- – Information pack, route descriptions and maps
- – Mid-week service of cabin cleaning and towel change
- – Bus transfer Ferrara/Zelo or Ferrara/Adria
- – Booking Fee
- – Coffee and tea on board
- – Harbor Fees
- – Entrances and visits as mentioned in the itinerary
Well-maintained, comfortable 27-speed hybrid bikes are included. These unisex bike models come in sizes appropriate to your height. The bikes have a side pannier, helmet, water bottle, and lock. If you prefer to bring your own bike you are welcome to do so but realize that bikes cannot be transported on the TGV (high-speed train) in France. A map holder/front bag is also given to the people that want to do this tour as a self-guided tour. An electric bike is also available for this tour ($120 p.p.). We advise you only to rent an electric bike if you have first tried one at home. They are heavier than regular bikes and therefore can be difficult to maneuver. In addition you can rent children’s bikes, child seats, bike trailers and tag-alongs.
This tour is rated “easy” for its flat terrain and low mileage. All distances are approximate. The above planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc.
– Transfer on Vaporetto to and from barge on free days in Venice
– Museum entrance fees and private expenses
– Drinks (other than coffee & tea) on board
– Gratuity for the guide
– Ferry fees (about € 9 per person)
Average daytime temperatures in Italy in April and May are 55-75. June, July, and August range from 65-85, and September and October from 60-75. It rains about 7 days per month, with more rain in September and October and less rain in July and August.