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Venice to Mantua 8-day Bike & Barge Tour (VP)
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.
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 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 few short climbs and descents. Little effort required, suitable for most people.
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.
Visit of a historic glass factory on Murano island
For vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free diets a fee of 50 EUR will be invoiced when booking
If you would like to rent a bike 110 EUR or e-bike 270 EUR, please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers a number of other Bike & Barge Tours in Europe
We welcome you aboard your new home away fromhome from 4.30pm onwards and then regroup for the introductory briefing at 6.30pm with your tour leader, skipper and crew. You'll also enjoy 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!
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.
Venice – Pellestrina Island 30km
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, 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'.
Pellestrina Island – Po Delta Nature Reserve – Adria 40km
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.
Adria – Ferrara – Zelo 35km by bike + 35km 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.
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.
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.
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.|
|Apr 20 2024||Apr 27 2024||23||Single rooms||2,300€|
|May 04 2024||May 11 2024||23||Single rooms||2,400€|
|May 18 2024||May 25 2024||23||Single rooms||2,400€|
|Jun 01 2024||Jun 08 2024||23||Single rooms||2,400€|
|Jun 15 2024||Jun 22 2024||23||Single rooms||2,400€|
|Jun 29 2024||Jul 06 2024||23||Single rooms||2,400€|
|Jul 13 2024||Jul 20 2024||23||Single rooms||2,300€|
|Jul 27 2024||Aug 03 2024||23||Single rooms||2,300€|
|Aug 10 2024||Aug 17 2024||23||Single rooms||2,300€|
|Aug 24 2024||Aug 31 2024||23||Single rooms||2,500€|
|Sep 07 2024||Sep 14 2024||23||Single rooms||2,500€|
|Sep 21 2024||Sep 28 2024||23||Single rooms||2,500€|
|Oct 05 2024||Oct 12 2024||23||Single rooms||2,500€|
|Oct 19 2024||Oct 26 2024||23||Single rooms||2,400€|
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