Guided/Self-guided Bike and Boat
Italy / From Mantua to Venice
Aboard Ave Maria
- 9 Client reviews
Day by Day
The cabins are available from 4.30 p.m. The meeting with the tour leader and the crew is scheduled at dinner-time, at 7 p.m.
2. Mantua round tour (25 km)
The tour begins with a circuit to discover the surroundings of Mantua. After having crossed the historical town center we meet Palazzo Te, the luxurious summer house built for Federico II Gonzaga. After having left the town, we cycle further trough the silent mantovian countryside before reaching Grazie. After your visit of the sanctuary mariano, we cross the bends of the river Mincio and the Lago Maggiore in the Parco naturale regionale on board the motor vessel Edron. During the crossing you will have the chance to observe numerous kinds of water birds and the rich flora along the lake. Those who travel in July and August will have the opportunity to admire the spectacular blooming of the lotus flowers.
3. Mantua – Governolo – Zelo (50 km)
A short cruise along the lush banks of the Mincio takes us to Governolo, where it flows into the Po and forms the largest inland basin in Italy. At Governolo Lock, once a vital staging post for local navigation, we saddle our bikes and follow the Po through Ostiglia (famed for its medieval fortress and floating mill) and on to the village of Bergantino. Here we visit the charming Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum. Finally we reach Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.
4. Zelo – Ferrara – Adria (50 km by bike + 60 km by bus)
After breakfast we continue our bike and boat adventure cycling towards Ferrara, another key City State of ancient Italy. You will visit this historic town and discover its little touched centre, still surrounded by the original city walls. From Ferrara a short transfer by private coach will take you to Adria. Once close to the shores of the sea which bears its name, Adria was an ancient Greek port, famous for trading Baltic amber. Its remarkable museum also bears witness to its Etruscan, Roman and Venetian heritage.
5. Adria – Porto Viro – Chioggia (40 km)
An exhilarating day of discovery alternating sailing and cycling starts with a short cruise to our drop-off point at Porto Viro and the exploration of the Po’s delta. This unique wetland park is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to several colonies of flamingos. At the mouth of the River Adige, which flows fast and cool from the Dolomites, we follow then the Po-Brondolo waterway and reach the Venetian lagoon. Our overnight stop is the bustling and colourful fishing port of Chioggia, known as “Little Venice”.
PS: when you arrive in Chioggia, we recommend you to buy a 48 hour-ticket (you can buy it in Piazzetta Vigo at ACTV ticket office, price is 30 €). When you take the first ferry, you have to validate it and then it will be valid for the next 48 hours.
6. Chioggia – Venice (30 km)
A morning visit to the fish market is recommended and, time allowing, we also climb up Chioggia’s millennial clock tower – the oldest in the world – for some breathtaking views. We then enjoy some island hopping in the lagoon itself by bike and boat, starting with our barge dropping us off on Pellestrina (home to the Ca’ Roman nature reserve); and continuing by public ferry for the short crossing to the Lido island. Celebrated by Thomas Mann (Death in Venice) and particularly fashionable with the artists and aristocracy of the Belle Époque, the Lido di Venezia is now home to the International Venice Film Festival and its galaxy of stars. Finally, our floating hotel takes us to our marina in Venice, for the culmination of our bike and boat holiday.
In the morning a local guide will let you discover the capital of the ancient “Serenissima Republic of Venice”, which held sway over much of the Mediterranean (and beyond) for centuries. After that you have a lot of time to soak up its timeless beauty or explore its islands.
After breakfast end of services.
The programme has been planned to feature navigation along the Fissero/ Bianco canal, which runs parallel to the Po river 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.
Total Length: 195 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 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.
Easy cycling in mostly flat areas, with only few short climbs and descents. Little effort required, suitable for most people.
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.
How to get there
Mantua is connected with the following airports:
Verona: 45 km, Venice: 120 km, Treviso: 130 km, Bergamo: 150 km, Milano: 180 km.
For further information on timetables and prices you can consult the following website: www.trenitalia.com.
Accommodation and meals
Modern and highly appointed river barge, launched in 2011.
The boat Ave Maria is equipped with:
- 4 Superior Double cabins (three of these can accommodate up to 4 persons adding 2 bunk beds) above deck, approx. 11 m2;
- 10 Standard Double cabins (three of these can accommodate up to 3 persons adding 1 bunk bed) below deck, approx. 11 m2;
- 3 bunk bed cabins (also available as Single cabins) below deck, approx. 7.5 m2.
All cabins enjoy sizeable windows (the ones in the Superior cabins can also be opened), comfortable low beds, en-suite facilities, air conditioning ans safety box. Bed/bunk size is 2.00 x 0.80 m. Most of the double beds can be separated into two single beds.
The air-conditioned living area measures 11 x 7.5 m and is divided into two parts:
the Restaurant (up to 33 seats) and the Lounge (up to 28 seats).
- 2 sundecks
- Free hot drinks machine (including Italian ground coffee)
- Free wi-fi in the common areas
- Large 55” screen in the lounge for video
- Dedicated bike storage (for approx. 40 hanging bikes)
- Hair-dryers (limited number) available on request
We remind you that the boat is not like a hotel, so during the journey you will always hear some sort of underground noise.
Bikes and accessories
Girolibero’s City bikes are available in various sizes in unisex models. At the moment of booking, you can choose from the following bikes:
- City bike 27-gear Shimano Deore
- Electro-bike 8-gear Shimano Nexus
- aluminium frame
- rear rack
- comfort gel saddle
- anti-puncture Schwalbe tyres
- ergonomic bicycle grips
- Speed Lifter system (only for city bikes)
You can also rent children’s bikes and devices:
- Child seat: it is suitable for a maximum payload of 22 kg (0-4 yrs).
- Child trailer: with one seat and suitable for children who cannot ride a bike (0-4 yrs). The child trailer is designed for a maximum payload of 30 kg. More info on www.croozer.com.
- Follow-me tandem: a clever latch system enables the child's bike to lock firmly onto the tail of the adult bike as and when necessary (4-7 yrs). Adjustable only for the kids bike wheels size 20". The maximum weight of the child can be 27 kg. More info on www.followmetandem.co.uk
- Child bikes: bike frames with 20” and 24” wheels
- Family tandem: this is an innovative solution for cycling with more than one child (aged 3-10). More info on: www.onderwaterfiets.nl
All rented adult bikes are equipped with:
- 1 cycle computer
- 1 Ortlieb one-sided saddlebag
- 1 water bottle (0.75 l)
- 1 combination bike lock
Only for self-guided:
- 1 front bar bag or 1 map holder
- 1 repair kit per cabin: 1 spare inner tube, glue, patch, a pump, 2 allen keys and tyre levers
At the moment of booking you can also rent helmets suitable for head circumferences from 54 to 61. All our helmets have a certification mark according to the DIN EN 1078 (CE) European norm.
The Information Pack (one per cabin) includes:
- roadbook describing the cycling route stage by stage
- bike maps
- Girolibero Greens Cycling Guide.
By your side
At your arrival on Saturday at 7.00 p.m., just before dinner, you will meet the tour leader and the crew. Every evening after dinner the guide will present you the cycling program of the following day.
This tour offers the chance to choose if pedalling alone or with the whole group, following the tour leader. When booking the tour please specify the option chosen.
If you want to cycle independently, you are free to do it by following the roadbook and maps you have been given. In case of an emergency you can contact the tour leader over the phone. If you change your mind during the week and you want to join the guided tour, please inform the tour leader the evening before.
If you choose the guided option, the tour leader will be always present during breakfast and dinner and will cycle with you every day.
Our tour leaders are carefully selected and rigourously trained by Girolibero. They are all multi-lingual, and speak at least English and German. Smart, entertaining, caring and endlessly enthusiastic, they have a true passion for sharing their love of the outdoors, people, culture and local food. Thanks to a deep knowledge of the territory, they can give you useful hints and help you appreciate the place you are visiting. Of course they love cycling and will be happy to give you some advice about how to correctly use the bicycle gears and whenever necessary they can fix your flat tyre. As we like to say, our tour leaders are CDO (Controlled Designation of Origin), a real traveller’s ticket to discover the land with ease and to live an unforgettable active travel experience.
For the whole duration of your bike tour, you can contact us:
- office +39 0444 330724 from Monday to Friday 8:30-13:00 and 15:00-18:30
- Ave Maria boat phone number every day 8:00-20:00. The number will be specified in the Final Tour Details.
Vacanza del 2017
pubblicazione 14 April 2017We have just returned from one of the best holidays ever - a week aboard Ave Maria Mantua to Venice.
The professionalism of the staff was second to none, the boat immaculately tidy and well kept.
The cabin although small was very clean and comfortable with everything you needed. we had magnificent weather, cycling and ice creams! The delicious food was prepared fresh each day and served by the wonderful 'boys' with great humour, they worked so well as a team and seemed to be having as good a time as us - my only disappointment was despite all the cycling I came back heavier than when I left!
Already booking our next trip with Girolibero - an exceptional company.
Philippe & Mary, Canada
Vacanza del 2016
pubblicazione 07 November 2016We just returned from a bike and barge holiday in Northern Italy, on the PO River and Canal, and Veneto delta, on board the AveMaria, a former dredging barge expertly converted to a small special-purpose tourist ship. This was also our wedding anniversary holiday!
We were thirty-six (36) people, from six (6) countries, including twelve (12) seniors from Ottawa, Canada, and a crew of four (4), including two (2) Italian chefs, one of whom was also a sommelier, plus our guide, Hein, a retired diplomat, who gave expert daily briefings and was a great raconteur, and who did his best to spare nobody with his very entertaining stories.
We lived on the ship in well-designed cabins, took our breakfasts and dinners on board, and packed a picnic lunch, then rode 50 km per day and met the ship in the next port down river.
The dining room had a great Italian coffee making machine, and it was very well used at breakfast and dinner. The cappuccino was excellent and popular will all. In the entrance hall to the barge, there was a water machine, offering delicious chilled fresh water, including frizzante, my favourite. We topped our water bottles up each morning.
Each morning, after a good one to two hour ride, Hein made sure the first stop was at a local coffee bar or trattoria which he referred to as Café Pipi, so we could unload the morning coffee. If there was no such establishment available, then Hein would look for the alternative, which he called the Green Door Café, just turn right through the green door, continue on past the apple tree, and there you are.
On the morning of the second day of biking, I hit some gravel and took a tumble, hit my head (I was wearing helmet, which was damaged, but saved me), elbow, shoulder, hip, and was cut up and badly bruised. It felt like a rotator cuff injury, but turned out to be less serious. I had to take a day off from biking, but got back on the bike the following day.
The Italian meals and wines served on board by the two stellar chefs were simply delicious! We learned some wonderful new Italian recipes, including an Italian seafood soup, cioppino, also spaghetti con vongola, also a delicious white chocolate dessert with delicate small fruit in a flavourful ricotta.
The chefs made a wonderful dessert for Mary and I to share one evening for our wedding anniversary on the ship.
The tours of small cities, such as Mantova and Ferrara showed the ancient fortress cities of Northern Italy, dominated by powerful families, who operated land holdings and trading centres, which came together in 1871 to form the country of Italy, with the help of the visionary military leader, Garibaldi. The guide named the influential families of each city state, and how they operated. Italy was the last major European country to form up as a country per se.
We also visited local industries, including a Parmesan cheese making factory, and a vongola processing plant. There are huge dairy herds in northern Italy devoted to producing milk for cheese making. The Veneto district has a huge production of mussels and vongola which are exported widely. We also visited fish processing plants, and retail fish markets. Our guide noted that 60% of the daily landed fish cash at one major local port simply disappears into thin air. These fish are likely not recorded and disappear into the local cash economy.
We had a full day tour of Venice with our guide and another professional guide, beginning with St. Mark’s Square, and extending through a network of streets and lanes to the Rialto Bridge area, full of tiny shops, and some very upscale fashion shops. Then we returned to the ship for our final dinner and final briefing as a group. We had made many new friends and exchanged email addresses.
Marc & Mahzel
Vacanza del 2016
pubblicazione 21 July 2016Hi Maddalena,
We would like to express our thanks for such a fantastic experience we had on this bike & barge trip with Girolibero.
The facilities and bikes were great; and the route fantastic - especially arriving into Venice!
The whole crew were exceptional - Captain Luciano, Chef Guiliano and his assistant Irene, engineer Enrico and our great guides Marco and Licia. A great credit to your organisation!
We look forward to undertaking future trips with Girolibero
Vacanza del 2016
pubblicazione 30 June 2016
I must send congratulations to Tamara Veenendaal and let you know that she is the best person you have! She made our trip so memorable and wonderful. She was professional but also so personable. Her knowledge of the region was excellent and when she was not certain of the answer- she was sure to find it within hours! I know our complete group has nothing but praise for Tammy. I would not hesitate to sign up for more of these trips as long as Tammy was our leader!
The rest of the staff was also excellent.
I have nothing negative to say since the accommodations, the service, the cuisine, the bikes, the “rest stop entertainment”, the staff, the route, even the weather (for the most part) were exceptional!
I have definitely recommended this adventure tour to anyone who will listen!
Thank you again. And please forward congratulations to Tammy and the staff
Have a great day!
Alexis, California (Usa)
Vacanza del 2015
pubblicazione 25 September 2015"We all had a great trip and biking was a great way to see Italy. Fabio and the crew were fantastic! Every night we were amazed by the cuisine. The ladies out did themselves. Everything was awesome."
Vacanza del 2015
pubblicazione 30 June 2015Bonjour Girolibero,
MILLE MERCIS pour votre belle organisation.
MILLE MERCIS à Tullio :-*
pour leur bonne humeur et leur joie de vivre. C'était magnifique, bravo, bravo, bravo.
Le TOP DU TOP. 10/10.
Vacanza del 2015
pubblicazione 22 June 2015Just to confirm, every one of our 31 members had a ball on the Ave Maria May 30-June 6th. Fabulous experience and everyone in your organization was extremely attentive tour needs. Bravo and encore, Jim
Ron and Pip, San Diego, USA
Vacanza del 2015
pubblicazione 13 April 2015Yes thank you! We made it! We had a wonderful time. Everything was perfect. We loved Helmut and the crew. They made it a perfect holiday!
Jack and Cathy
Vacanza del 2014
pubblicazione 04 December 2014Hello,
In this particular picture we were riding in an area to look for white flamingos which we never did see. Our tour guide Hein Hoefnagels was excellent. With the beauty of the tour, the boat and the welcoming staff we had an outstanding holiday. I guess the two of us holding hands was so natural for us on this holiday.
If possible if we could get the email address for Hein it would be
appreciated. There was one are we stopped during our tour of Venice during Hein's day off and he was explaining how the homes worked. While we were talking, I said to Cathy, I am sure this is the exact spot from one of the exciting scenes from the movie the tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. I would like to send him a photo of the spot so he might be able to give that information to future tours.
Jack and Cathy.
1 To combine with
Bike and Hotel
Italy, Croatia, Slovenia
Venice to Poreč
8 Days / 7 Nights from 520 €