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Guided/Self-guided Bike and Boat

IT011

Italy / From Venice to Mantua

Aboard the Vita Pugna

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 and its famed fish market. 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.
  • Day by Day

    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/Chioggia (30 km)

    Leaving Venice behind after a gentle cruise, 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. Rejoining our Vita Pugna, we sail to Chioggia – a bustling and colourful fishing hub known as “Little Venice”.

     

    4. Pellestrina/Chioggia – 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 (25 km)

    Ruled by the House of Gonzaga for four centuries, the city state of Mantua attracted a dizzying roll call of names across the arts – from Rubens and Mantegna to Monteverdi and Mozart – and to this day the town is renowned for its international book festival. 

    A ride through the centre soon takes us past Palazzo Tè, on the outskirts, the Gonzagas' summer residence. Onwards to the hamlet of Grazie and its historic church: a site of pilgrimage, it is adorned with an intriguing host of wooden figures, personifying the many torments that pilgrims of yore could identify with. A cruise on a local barge takes us home through a waterscape rich in birdlife, lilies and other aquatic flora.

    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 boat’s captain.

     


  • Route profile

    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.

     

  • How to get there

    Venice is connected with the following airports:
    Venice: 10 km, Treviso: 30 km, Verona: 110 km, Bergamo: 240, km Milan: 310 km.

     

    Trains
    For further information on timetables and prices you can consult the following websites: www.trenitalia.com.

     

     

  • Accommodation and meals

     

    Take a virtual tour and watch our photo gallery!

     

    The boat Vita Pugna is equipped with:

    • 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.


    Extra features:

    • 1 sundeck
    • Free hot drinks machine (including Italian ground coffee)
    • Free wi-fi
    • Large 42” screen in the lounge for video
    • Dedicated bike storage


    There is a free wi-fi connection on board which normally works during the whole tour.
    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


    Features:

    • aluminium frame
    • mudguard
    • rear rack
    • comfort gel saddle
    • anti-puncture Schwalbe tyres
    • ergonomic bicycle grips
    • Speed Lifter system (only for city bikes)

     

    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.

     

  • Accompanying material

    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 you need to specify which option is chosen.
    If you want to cycle independently, you are free to do it by following the roadbook and maps you have. 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 every day with you.

     

    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
    • Vita Pugna boat phone number every day 8:00-20:00. The number will be specified in the Final Tour Details.
  • 4 Client reviews
    • Gail, U.S.A.

      Vacanza del 2015

      pubblicazione 18 June 2015

      Hi Anna, I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed our trip on the Pugna from Venice to Mantova. The route was fantastic - challenging but not so hard that we couldn't keep up with the group. I liked that we did not just bike but visited a cheese factory, museum, church bells, gelato stands, restaurants and bars, etc. The food was fantastic - local, fresh, health, attractive to look at. Our leader Michela couldn't have been better. She has a fabulous personality and saw to it that everyone had a good time. She is knowledgeable about interpersonal relations (getting us to mingle with each other for example), cheese making, astrology (when we visited the bell tower), biking and even nursing (one of our bikers got hurt on the last day and she applied medicine and bandages expertly). She went out of her way to encourage us to have a good time every night when we visited a new town, even when I know she must have been tired she led us as expertly as when on the bike path. I am telling everyone I know to take this trip. All of us on board felt the same way. Please let your bosses at Girolibero know,

      thanks, Gail
    • Mary, Boston, USA

      Vacanza del 2015

      pubblicazione 13 May 2015

      20 of us just returned from a wonderful bike/barge trip on the Vita Pugna
      out of Venice, Italy. Every one of us thoroughly enjoyed this trip. From
      the flat scenic route along the Po River, great bicycles, amazing food,
      perfect crew members, and old, but fine, barge.
      I highly recommend this trip.
    • Anonimous

      Vacanza del 2014

      pubblicazione 09 May 2014

      Resort service and bikes - excellent
      A really good mixture of traffic free paths and quiet country roads with frequent breaks.
      It would have been helpful to have a towel rail, also a mirror in the cabin.
      The two cooks made magnificent food. Local, tasty, varied and beautifully presented. Absolutely superb
    • Hans-Martin

      Vacanza del 2014

      pubblicazione 06 May 2014

      Hello everybody,

      thank you, Martina, so much for your emallist of our trip on Vita Pugna. Yes, in my and Marias opinion it was one of our finest and special holidays we made. Once more I say thank you, the crew, for the charming and friendly and safety job you done. And thank you, "withtravellers" for good talking and singing.
      A very small choice of my pictures let feel it how beautiful our trip was.

      Once more: thank you very much! And enjoy your life!
  • 1 To combine with

Tour details

 

from 840 €

8 Days / 7 Nights, boat Vita Pugna

Tour type

Guided / Self-guided

 

Seasons

Value: 14.04.18

Standard: 28.04 - 18.08.18

High: 1.09 - 13.10.18

 

Price per person

840 €  double cabin, value season

 

Departures

SA 14.04, 28.04, 12.05, 26.05, 9.06, 23.06, 7.07, 21.07, 4.08, 18.08, 1.09, 15.09, 29.09, 13.10.18

 

Included

  • 7 overnights
  • Full board (breakfast, dinner and a self-made packed lunch)
  • English speaking tour leader within an international group
  • Sheets and towels
  • courtesy kit
  • Girolibero Greens Cycling Guide + Maps (1:75:000) + Roadbook
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Zelo
  • Boat excursion on Mantova Lakes
  • Harbour charges
  • Coffee tea and other hot drinks on board
  • daily short cleaning of the cabin
  • Guided visit in Venice and Mantua
  • picturesque navigation along Mantua lakes
  • Visit of a cheese factory with tasting of typical Grana Padano
  • Visit of Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum

 

Not included

  • Beverages on board
  • Museums, fees and extras in general
  • Ticket for public transportation in Venice
  • Tips
  • Everything not included in the section “included in the price”

Supplements

300 € single cabin

150 € standard season
240 € high season
85 € Girolibero bike
195 € electro-bike
15 € Helmet
 
Extra nights in double/single room with breakfast*:
45/75 € 3* hotel in Mantua
from 85/125 € 4* hotel in Mantua
65/85 € 3/4* hotel in Mestre
from 90/150 € 3/4* hotel in Venice
*local taxes to be paid on site

 

Reductions

250 € 3rd person in cabin 

 

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. When booking the tour please specify which option you prefer.

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