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Mantua to Venice 8-day Bike & Barge Tour
Blending nature, culture and fine cuisine, this leisurely bike and barge tour along 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, rewarding our daily rides with authentic regional dishes back on board. The tour starts in Mantua – in its heyday a major city state crowned by the Italian Renaissance – progresses to Ferrara and culminates in Venice. Along the way: Adria, once a key Roman port; the natural wonders of the Po Delta, famed for its birdlife; and colourful Chioggia, gateway to the Venetian lagoon. Finally: the glory of Venice herself.
This cycling tour is largely along the flats of the Po plains, and the daily stages vary from 25 to 55km – mostly on tarmac cycle paths along rivers and canals, or quiet country roads. The boat 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 boat, 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.
10 Standard Twin cabins (including one accommodating up to 3 guests) of 7/8 m2. All cabins are air-conditioned and are equipped with comfortable low twin beds and en-suite facilities. They also offer the convenience of attractive, traditional portholes, which can be opened for fresh air. Bed size is 1.90/2 m x 0.75/0.80 m.
There is a spacious air-conditioned lounge/restaurant with 5 tables, accommodating up to 23 guests.
For vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free diets a fee of 50 EUR will be invoiced when booking
(2022) If you would like to rent a bike (85 EUR) or e-bike (220 EUR) please contact our office at time of booking: [email protected]
(2023) If you would like to rent a bike (100 EUR) or e-bike (250 EUR) please contact our office at time of booking: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers a number of other Bike & Barge Tours in Europe
We welcome you aboard your new home away from home from 4.30pm onwards and then regroup for the introductory briefing at 6.30pm with your tour leader, skipper and crew. You will also receive a first refreshing aperitivo. After dinner we can stroll into town and savour the historic centre at its most evocative: Benvenuti a Mantova!
Mantua round tour 35km
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.
Mantua – Zelo 50km
After breakfast, we set sail from the lakes of Mantua and cruise through the lush wetlands that lead to Governolo Lock, where Mantua's River Mincio flows into the Po. Here, we saddle up and follow the broad curves of the levee towards Ostiglia renowned for its medieval fortress and fierce fighting in 1945, as the Allies drove Hitler's forces back. Next is Bergantino. Home of the distinctive Museum of Fairground Rides and it's collection of street organs, all expertly restored (and thunderous!). This village is also in the heartland of Grana Padano, the archrival of Parmesan. We visit the local cheese factory, sampling some well seasoned Grana. Finally, we catch up with our barge in the sleepy village of Zelo, on the Canal Bianco - the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.
Zelo – Ferrara – Adria 50km by bike + 60km by bus
This morning we cross the Po and ride southwards through a patchwork of farmland, orchards and hamlets, as far as Ferrara. Under its ruling family, the Este, this city state has attracted architects, artists and scholars for centuries. It has pioneered 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 then take us back to our floating hotel in Adria, an ancient Roman port once washed by the sea which bears its name. Adria is also renowned for it's Etruscan and Greek heritage. An after-dinner passeggiata into town for a well-earned grappa or gelato will then be in order.
Adria – Po Delta Nature Reserve – Pellestrina Island 40km
After a short cruise, we cycle into the delta of the life-giving Po. This unique wetland is an important reserve in Europe for herons and home to a sizeable colony of flamingos. Weather permitting, as we continue towards Chioggia, we can also enjoy a break at a fine-sand beach nearby for a dip in the Adriatic – not forgetting a hot savoury piadina! Chioggia is also known as 'Little Venice', a colourful fishing hub. The overnight takes place on the Island Pellestrina, just in front of Chioggia.
Pellestrina Island – Venice 30km
Venice beckons, but first another world altogether: Pellestrina, the first of two islands we traverse today – a humble and tranquil fishing backwater, picturesque as ever with its cottages, boats and nets. A short island-hop by ferry lands us on the Lido. 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. We will also visit a historic glass factory on Murano Island, with a glassblowing demonstration by a master artisan. After rejoining our barge, an unrushed cruise in front of St Mark's square takes us to our final destination. After dinner we can savour Venice at night, now free of the crowds and at her most romantic: Benvenuti a Venezia!
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 dominated much of the Mediterranean and beyond for centuries both as a military power and a beacon of culture. Some of 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.
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 boat’s captain.
Tours marked with are special prices.
|Start||End||Max. No. Guests||Accommodation||Price p.p.|
|Oct 01 2022||Oct 08 2022||22||Single rooms||1,720€|
|Oct 15 2022||Oct 22 2022||22||Single rooms||1,720€|
|Apr 01 2023||Apr 08 2023||22||Single rooms||1,900€|
|Apr 15 2023||Apr 22 2023||22||Single rooms||1,900€|
|Apr 29 2023||May 06 2023||22||Single rooms||2,220€|
|May 13 2023||May 20 2023||22||Single rooms||2,270€|
|May 27 2023||Jun 03 2023||22||Single rooms||2,270€|
|Jun 10 2023||Jun 17 2023||22||Single rooms||2,270€|
|Jun 24 2023||Jul 01 2023||22||Single rooms||2,270€|
|Jul 08 2023||Jul 15 2023||22||Single rooms||2,220€|
|Jul 22 2023||Jul 29 2023||22||Single rooms||2,220€|
|Aug 05 2023||Aug 12 2023||22||Single rooms||2,220€|
|Aug 19 2023||Aug 26 2023||22||Single rooms||2,220€|
|Sep 02 2023||Sep 09 2023||22||Single rooms||2,340€|
|Sep 16 2023||Sep 23 2023||22||Single rooms||2,340€|
|Sep 30 2023||Oct 07 2023||22||Single rooms||2,340€|
|Oct 14 2023||Oct 21 2023||22||Single rooms||2,340€|
If you would like to drive yourself before or after your tour, ask us for a quote on any brand new Renault, Peugeot or Citroen vehicle for driving in Europe.
Pick up your vehicle from most capital cities in Europe and return it to your drop off destination. Top insurance cover. Email [email protected] for a competitive quote