From: $1,240 USD
8 Days / 7 Nights
Level of Difficulty: Easy
There’s no area in Italy that offers water lovers such ideal, easy cycling through beautiful countryside and villages in Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna. You’ll pedal along the River Po (if navigation along the river is possible) or along the Fissero/Bianco canal, which runs parallel to the Po and connects Mantua to the Adriatic Sea. Our comfortable “floating home” will make its way through a unique landscape and stop at towns that seem to have emerged from fairy tales. Highlights include fantastic Chioggia, often called “Little Venice,” Ferrara, the meeting point for many local and international cyclists, the Etruscan Adria, the delightful islands Pellestrina and Lido, and finally romantic Venice, the “City of Water.” The bike trails offer dramatic scenery with daily routes all completely over flat roads and bike paths. Bikers have a unique opportunity to experience largely untouched nature, seeing swamps that have existed for several centuries and are surrounded by lovely pine woods. Natural watercourses, minuscule channels, and fishermen’s huts hiding in the reeds are waiting to be discovered. Your biking companions are an international group of cycling enthusiasts who enjoy a relaxed pace, great Italian food, and flat, safe bike routes. Bring your camera for this Italian vacation you’ll never forget!
REVERSE ROUTE: Mantua to Venice
Green = Open | Yellow = Limited | Red = Full
Prices are per person in US$ – inclusive bike rental
|April 1||Ave Maria||$ 1,310||$ 1,530||$ 1,660|
|April 8||Vita Pugna||$ 1,240||—||$ 2,090 *|
|April 15||Ave Maria||$ 1,310||$ 1,530||$ 1,660|
|April 22||Vita Pugna||$ 1,520||—||$ 2,430 *|
|April 29||Ave Maria||$ 1,830||$ 2,040||$ 2,190||Reserve your cabin here|
|May 6||Vita Pugna||$ 1,580||—||$ 2,480 *||Reserve your cabin here|
|May 13||Ave Maria||$ 1,950||$ 2,170||$ 2,320|
|May 20||Vita Pugna||$ 1,580||—||$ 2,480 *||Reserve your cabin here|
|May 27||Ave Maria||$ 1,950||$ 2,170||$ 2,320||Reserve your cabin here|
|June 3||Vita Pugna||$ 1,580||—||$ 2,480 *||Reserve your cabin here|
|June 10||Ave Maria||$ 1,950||$ 2,170||$ 2,320||Reserve your cabin here|
|June 17||Vita Pugna||$ 1,580||—||$ 2,480 *||Reserve your cabin here|
|June 24||Ave Maria||$ 1,950||$ 2,170||$ 2,320||Reserve your cabin here|
|July 1||Vita Pugna||$ 1,520||—||$ 2,430 *|
|July 8||Ave Maria||$ 1,830||$ 2,040||$ 2,190|
|July 15||Vita Pugna||$ 1,520||—||$ 2,430 *||Reserve your cabin here|
|July 22||Ave Maria||$ 1,830||$ 2,040||$ 2,190|
|July 29||Vita Pugna||$ 1,520||—||$ 2,430 *||Reserve your cabin here|
|August 5||Ave Maria||$ 1,830||$ 2,040||$ 2,190||Reserve your cabin here|
|August 12||Vita Pugna||$ 1,520||—||$ 2,430 *||Reserve your cabin here|
|August 19||Ave Maria||$ 1,830||$ 2,040||$ 2,190||Reserve your cabin here|
|August 26||Vita Pugna||$ 1,640||—||$ 2,550 *||Reserve your cabin here|
|September 2||Ave Maria||$ 2,080||$ 2,290||$ 2,440||Reserve your cabin here|
|September 9||Vita Pugna||$ 1,640||—||$ 2,550 *|
|September 16||Ave Maria||$ 2,080||$ 2,290||$ 2,440|
|September 23||Vita Pugna||$ 1,640||—||$ 2,550 *|
|September 30||Ave Maria||$ 2,080||$ 2,290||$ 2,440|
|October 7||Vita Pugna||$ 1,640||—||$ 2,550 *|
|October 14||Ave Maria||$ 2,080||$ 2,290||$ 2,440||Reserve your cabin here|
|October 21||Vita Pugna||$ 1,580||—||$ 2,480 *||Reserve your cabin here|
* Twin cabin for single use
3rd Person in Cabin on request
DAY 1 – Arrival in Venice
Our comfortable barge is moored at Giudecca Island in Venice and is easily reached by “vaporetto” from the train station in the city. Your cabin will be available at 6 p.m. After storing your luggage and meeting your cycling companions, guide, captain, and crew we will have a preview of the week’s highlights and cycling itinerary by the tour guide, followed by dinner. After dinner we can savour Venice at night, now free of the crowds and at her most romantic!
DAY 2 – Venice – free day
You’ll rise today to a wonderful view over the scenic Venetian lagoon! It’s impossible to cycle the narrow, crooked streets and innumerable steps to Venice’s romantic bridges so today we wander off the beaten track with our tour leader. The rest of the day you’re free to enjoy Venice at your own pace, the capital of the “Repubblica Serenissima”, the Serene Republic.
DAY 3 – Venice to Pellestrina Island – 16 miles (25 km)
Leaving Venice behind after a gentle cruise in front of St Mark’s square, our first stop will be on Murano island, where we will visit a historic glass factory, with a glassblowing demonstration by a master artisan. Then our cycling adventure starts on the Lido, one of the most impressive resorts for the rich and famous and the home of the Venice Film Festival. Then we’ll ride on to Malamocco, the first seat of the Republic of the Doges. A short boat cruise will take 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 medieval architecture and a famous fish market.
DAY 4 – Pellestrina Island – Po Delta Nature Reserve – Adria – 25 miles (40 km)
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’ll overnight in Adria, an ancient Greek port once close to the shores of the sea that shares its name. The town is also renowned for its Etruscan and Roman heritage.
DAY 5 – Adria – Ferrara – Zelo – 22 miles by bike + 22 miles by bus (35 km bike + 35 km bus)
After a short morning boat ride we’ll cycle following the Po through farmland and hamlets to medieval Ferrara, nicknamed the “city of bicycles.” Ferrara’s well-preserved historical center is still surrounded by spectacular 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, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, for the night.
DAY 6 – Zelo – Mantua (Mantova in Italian) – 31 miles (50 km)
This morning we head for the village of Bergantino, home of the distinctive Museum of Fairground Rides and its collection of street organs, all expertly restored (and thunderous!). But first things first: we are in the heartland of Grana Padano – the arch-rival of Parmesan – and after visiting the local cheese factory, we enjoy a degustazione of sharp and seasoned Grana, washed down with a glass of Valpolicella. After our customary picnic lunch, we leave Bergantino and follow the river to Ostiglia, famed for its medieval fortress and the fierce fighting that took place here in 1945, as the Allies and partisans drove Hitler’s forces back. We’ll 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’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The historic center features dozens of fascinating piazzas, churches, monuments, and courtyards. It’s one of the most beautiful Renaissance towns of Northern Italy and a fitting place to end our wonderful bike-barge vacation. Tonight you have dinner on your own in Mantua.
DAY 7 – Mantua Round Trip – 22 miles (35 km)
Ruled by the House of Gonzaga for four centuries, the city-state of Mantua attracted a dizzying roll call of names across the arts – from Rubens and Mantegna to Monteverdi and Mozart – and to this day the town is renowned for its international book festival. A ride through the center soon takes us past Palazzo Tè, on the outskirts, the Gonzagas’ summer residence. Onwards to the hamlet of Grazie and its historic church: a site of pilgrimage, it is adorned with an intriguing host of wooden figures, personifying the many torments that pilgrims of yore could identify with. A cruise on a local barge takes us home through a waterscape rich in birdlife, lilies and other aquatic flora. This afternoon we meet our Mantuan guide for a walking tour of the historic center, and enjoy the rest of the day in town, at our own leisure.
DAY 8 – Tour Ends
You’ll depart in in the morning after breakfast.
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’re 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 ($160 per person). Depending on your height, you will be assigned one of the electric bikes below. We advise you only to rent an electric bike if you have first tried one at home. They’re 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.
The cook prepares all meals: a substantial breakfast and a three-course dinner of very good quality. A packed lunch may be prepared after breakfast. Tea and coffee will be ready when you arrive on board in the afternoon. There’s a bar on the boat with beer, wine, and soft drinks at reasonable prices. If you have special meal requirements, we ask you to mention this when booking. In the case of a gluten-free or vegan diet there is an additional charge of $60 per week.
20 people – After many years as cargo boat, Vita Pugna was completely renovated in the early 1990s in order to start its new life as floating hotel along the Dutch canals. On board the Vita Pugna you will find the same style and cozy atmosphere of the Bike & Barge cruises in Holland enhanced by the friendly and homey management of the international crew. The typical wooden cabin area and the comfortable air-conditioned living room will welcome customers for a well-deserved rest after a day of cycling.
They also offer the convenience of attractive, traditional portholes, which can be opened for fresh air. There is a spacious air-conditioned lounge/restaurant with 5 tables, as well as a sun deck. Guests have access to a free hot drinks machine, including Italian ground coffee, and free WiFi.
36 people – The Ave Maria barge has been totally rebuilt with 100% Italian design by a renowned Italian architectural firm. Its shapes, colors and materials have been chosen carefully in order to create a warm, sober and yet sophisticated atmosphere.
All cabins enjoy sizeable windows (the ones in the Superior cabins can also be partially opened), comfortable low beds, en-suite facilities, air conditioning and safety box. Extra features on the barge include a 33-person dining area, a sizable 28-person lounge, 2 sun decks and free WiFi.
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