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This story isn't just about a barge; it's about
a mission and an environmentally sustainable project
that started a long time ago.

October 2011 Success was certain
The Ave Maria ended its first tourist season at the end of October with fully booked cabins; it garnered accolades from tourists and experts alike: we passed our field test with flying colors!


May 2011 The Ave Maria: a large, “tailor-made” barge

Bringing together strong team efforts, Ave Maria set sail on its first trip on May 2, 2011.
The Ave Maria is 40.5 meters long and 7.50 meters wide. It is equipped with 16-18 passenger cabins with en-suite facilities, a large restaurant salon, and a beautiful, inviting sundeck.
The furniture and railings on the sundeck are collapsible and folding and the awning can be lowered with a hydraulic system allowing the barge to sail under bridges that are only 4.08 m high. We pass the test!


February 2010 More than just a barge that pumps out sand

Our adventure began with the dismantled hull of the Ave Maria, a barge built in the 1970s to pump out and remove sand. The project appeared daunting: it would be the first passenger river vessel built in Italy according to the strict, new European safety regulations and the construction limitations set by the landform of the canals; the territory to be sailed also appeared insuperable.
The challenge stimulated the genius and creativity of our architects and designers and put the competence and experience of artisans and construction builders to the test.


October 2009 We’ve thrown the dice!
Following these exhilarating and successful experiences, Girolibero decided that the time was right to invest in building a luxury hotel cruiser directly in Italy, aimed specifically at navigating between Mantua and the Veneto Lagoon.


March 2009 And we’re off!
Following necessary modifications and restructuring, Vita Pugna set sail on its first tourist season, fully booked almost entirely by foreigners.


2008 The long voyage
Following adventurous navigation along the Rhine, the Danube, the Black Sea and the Adriatic, the “Vita Pugna” – a barge launched in 1927 and converted in the 1980s as a cycling theme cruise ship – reached Italy from Holland.

2007 From the Dutch polders to the Po Valley
The first great challenge for Girolibero:  to buy a Dutch barge and take it to Italy, taking into account that no river barges like this existed in Italy with measurements suitable to pass through the bottlenecks in our waterways.

2002 The first Italian waterway
When the Fissero Tartaro –  Bianco canals opened, Italy could finally boast a reliable waterway that allowed us to program tourist seasons without profoundly suffering the whims of the weather. Since then, this new system connects Mantua to Venice and the Adriatic Sea.

Biking & Dutch barging is printed in our catalogue!
In 2001 Girolibero successfully organized the first bike & barge charter in Holland. Over the following years other destinations such as Germany, France, Austria and Poland were added to the list of our exceptional bike & barge tourist offerings.

1998 A pedaling tour operator
“Girolibero” opened its doors in Vicenza: a tour operator dedicated to offering cycling theme tours in Italy and Europe to Italians and foreigners.


1980 In the beginning was Holland

The Dutch were the first in the ‘80s to come up with the idea of transforming mercantile barges into floating hotels. These ships could accommodate roughly 20 passengers with basic services, but over the years they became more comfortable and better equipped. A new tourist attraction that enjoyed immense success and notoriety as a Dutch commodity was born: Bike & Barge.