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From Venice to Mantua

Blending nature, culture and fine cuisine, this leisurely bike and barge tour along the waterways of the River Po offers more than just a taster of Northern Italy. It explores celebrated cities of art, one of Europe's prime Nature Reserves and a wealth of tucked-away rural hamlets along the route, rewarding our daily rides with authentic regional dishes back on board. From the glory of Venice, the lagoon leads us to colourful Chioggia. Next up, the natural wonders of the Po Delta, famed for its birdlife. Then Adria, once a key Roman port, and onwards to Ferrara and Mantua – once major city states crowned by the Italian Renaissance.
Mappa From Venice to Mantua

Route

Total length: 190 km
Total vertical up: 30 m
Terrain: 95% tarmac, 5% unpaved

This cycling tour is largely along the flats of the Po plains, and the daily stages vary from 25 to 55 km – mostly on tarmac cycle paths along rivers and canals, or quiet country roads. The barge is moored at night and typically sets sail after breakfast, meeting up with the bikes in the afternoon. Some parts of the itinerary are undertaken by barge, to allow easier access onto cycling paths or simply to enjoy the cruise.

 

Leisure cycling in mostly flat areas, with only a few short ups and downs. Little effort required, suitable for everyone.

The tour is also suitable for children. If the child one day does not want to cycle, he/she can stay on the boat with one of the parents.

 

Itinerary

1. Venice
We welcome you aboard your new home-from-home from 4.30 p.m. onwards, and then regroup for the introductory briefing – at 6.30 – with your tour leader, skipper and crew, along with a first refreshing aperitivo. After dinner we can savour Venice at night, now free of the crowds and at her most romantic: Benvenuti a Venezia

2. Venice
After breakfast – and perhaps following a wander off the beaten track with your tour leader – we all meet up with our Venetian guide for a tour through the historic centre. Christened La Serenissima ("The Most Serene"), the Venetian Republic held sway over much of the Mediterranean (and beyond) for centuries – both as a military power and a beacon of culture, her explorers reaching as far as China and Newfoundland. After your guided tour, you have the afternoon free to enjoy the city at your own pace.

3. Venice – Pellestrina island (30 km)
Leaving Venice behind after a gentle cruise in front of St Mark’s square, our cycling adventure starts on the Lido, the first of two islands we traverse today. Fashionable in high society ever since the Belle Époque, the Lido di Venezia is now home to the International Venice Film Festival and its galaxy of stars. A short island-hop by ferry takes us into another world: Pellestrina, where we ride past the picturesque cottages and boats of this humble fishing backwater. We rejoin our barge just in front of Chioggia – a bustling and colourful fishing hub known as “Little Venice”.

4. Pellestrina island – Po Delta Nature Reserve – Adria (40 km)
We open the day with a stroll through Chioggia, followed perhaps by a visit up the millennial clock tower – the oldest in the world – for some breathtaking views. Weather permitting, we can also bask in the sun at a fine-sand beach nearby: a dip in the Adriatic, a hot savoury piadina – and you are well and truly local!
Then onwards into the delta of the life-giving Po. This unique wetland is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to a colony of flamingos. We moor for the night in Adria, a key Roman port, once washed by the waters of the sea which bears its name. Adria is also renowned for its Etruscan and Greek heritage. An after-dinner passeggiata into town for a well-earned grappa or gelato is in order.

5. Adria – Ferrara – Zelo (35 km by bike + 35 km by bus)
After a short cruise we saddle our bikes and, following the Po through farmland and hamlets, we reach Ferrara. Under its ruling family, the Este, this city state attracted architects, artists and scholars for centuries, pioneering town planning principles that have been emulated worldwide ever since. To this day, Ferrara University ranks among the best, and the town is dubbed the ''Cycling Capital of Italy". A private bus and trailer take us back to our floating hotel in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.

6. Zelo – Mantua (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 ride on and rejoin our barge at Governolo Lock, where Mantua's River Mincio flows into the Po. Veering north, we cruise through the lush wetlands that finally emerge into the glorious "lakes" of Mantua.

7. Mantua round tour (35 km)
A 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 and now considered by many as Italy’s “Sleeping Beauty”.
This afternoon we meet our Mantuan guide for a walking tour of the historic centre, and enjoy the rest of the day in town, at our own leisure.

8. Mantua
Departure after breakfast.

 

 

The programme has been planned to feature navigation along the Fissero/ Bianco canal, which runs parallel to the Po and connects Mantua to the Adriatic Sea. Due to organisational reasons, weather conditions or provisions issued by local authorities, the itinerary may be subject to some changes before and/or during the holiday. Issues with high and low water, as well as logistic obstacles such as officially ordered - previously not announced - repair work on locks or bridges can modify some of the daily stretches or overnight stays and may even request a transfer by bus. These decisions are only taken by the barge’s captain.

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Price per person:

990 € standard double cabin value season

 

Departures from Venice:

SA 4.04, 18.04, 2.05, 16.05, 30.05, 13.06, 27.06, 11.07, 25.07, 8.08, 22.08, 5.09, 19.09, 3.10, 17.10.2020

 

SEASONS

Value: 4.04.2020

Standard: 18.04 - 22.08.2020

High: 5.09 - 17.10.2020

 

Included:

  • 7 overnights
  • Full board (breakfast, dinner and a self-made packed lunch)
  • Coffee and tea and other hot drinks on board
  • Sheets and towels
  • Complimentary courtesy kit
  • Daily short cleaning and mid-week cabin cleaning service and towel change
  • Bike helmet
  • Travel Guide, Maps, Roadbook
  • English speaking tour leader within an international group
  • Second tour leader with a minimum of 25 people
  • Guided visit in Venice and Mantua
  • Visit of a cheese factory with tasting of typical Grana Padano
  • Visit of Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum
  • Harbour charges
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Zelo

 

NOT INCLUDED:

  • Beverages on board
  • Museums, fees and extras in general
  • Ticket for public transportation in Venice and lagoon (we suggest the ACTV 72h-ticket, 40 €)
  • Tips
  • Everything not included in the section “Included”

 

Supplements:

300 € single cabin
140 € superior cabin
460 € standard season
670 € high season
50 € special diet (gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan diets)

Extra nights in double/single room with breakfast*:
50/80 € 3* hotel in Mantua
from 85/125 € 4* hotel in Mantua
65/90 € 3/4* hotel in Mestre
from 90/150 € 3/4* hotel in Venice
*local taxes to be paid on site

Girolibero rental bikes including insurance against theft and damage:
85 € Touring bike
195 € E-bike
85 € Child bike

Additional bike accessories on demand:
85 € child trailer
Free of charge: child seat and FollowMe-Tandem

 

Reductions:

200 € bunk bed cabin (below deck) 

300 € 3rd/4th adult in the cabin 

 

Children reductions

The reduction for the 3rd/4th child in the cabin will be calculated on the basic price and seasons supplements according to the following table:

100% 0-2 years

50% 3-6 years

30% 7-10 years

 

Discount only applying if child is occupying 3rd or 4th bed in the cabin. 4th bed only available in the superior cabins.

 

 

Good to know:

This tour offers the chance to choose if pedalling alone (taking advantage of a very detailed route description) or with the whole group, following the tour leader.

 


 

CHARTER RATES:

Chartering the Ave Maria (16-18 cabins) is possible if organized well in advance, with an option to tandem cruise with the Vita Pugna (10 cabins). Rates vary according to the season, itinerary, number of passengers and the kind of service required. Contact us for more details!

 

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