(10 reviews)

Guided/Self-guided Bike and Barge / Original tour

Web code IT011

Italy / Venice-Mantua

Aboard 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. 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 6.00 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
    Following a wander off the beaten track with your tour leader you have the day free to enjoy the city at your own pace. 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.

    3. Venice – Island Pellestrina (25 km)

    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”.

    4. Island Pellestrina – 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. Free dinner in Mantua.

    7. Mantua round tour (35 km)
    A day dedicated to the discovery of this cultural gem, its three picturesque “lakes” formed by the river Mincio and the surrounding countryside.
    This afternoon we meet our Mantuan guide for a walking tour across the historic centre: starting from Piazza Sordello with its magnificent cathedral and Palazzo Ducale, we will walk through the city centre up to Piazza delle Erbe. Here we will admire the Clock Tower, the Rotonda di S. Lorenzo (the oldest church in town) and the Cathedral of St. Andrew, a jewel of Renaissance art and architecture. We will learn why Mantua, once a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family, is now considered by many as Italy’s “Sleeping Beauty”. (The programme may be subject to changes)

    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: 185 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.


    Leisure 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.


    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 barge 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 and safety box. 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. In each cabin, at least under one of the two/three beds there is an empty space (about 40 cm heigh), where you can store your luggage.

    Common areas
    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 in the common areas
    • Large 42” screen in the lounge for video
    • Dedicated bike storage
    • Hair-dryers (limited number) available on request
    • Complimentary courtesy kit



  • Bikes and accessories

    Girolibero bikes are available in different sizes in unisex model:

    • Touring bike 27-gear Shimano Deore
    • E-bike 9-gear Shimano


    • aluminium frame
    • mudguard
    • rear rack
    • comfort gel saddle www.selleroyal.com
    • anti-puncture Schwalbe tyres
    • ergonomic bicycle grips
    • Speed Lifter system


    Own bicycles are not allowed on board.
    Limited availability for E-bikes.


    All rented adult bikes are equipped with:

    • 1 cycle computer  
    • 1 Ortlieb one-sided saddlebag
    • 1 combination bike lock
    • 1 helmet suitable for head circumferences from 54 to 61 cm

    Only for self-guided:

    • 1 front bar bag per cabin
    • 1 repair kit per cabin: 1 spare inner tube, glue, patch, a pump, 2 allen keys and tyre levers

    All our helmets have a certification mark according to the DIN EN 1078 (CE) European norm.


    We recommend that you bring your own reusable water bottle with you.


    Important notes if you want to cycle independently:
    In order to cycle smoothly following our App, we suggest that you bring with you a holder for your mobile phone to be fixed on the handlebar, as well as a power bank (even if the App can be used offline, too).


  • Accompanying material

    Before your arrival, you will receive an email from us with the digital information material. It contains:

    1. Link to download the App including maps, roadbook, points of interest and GPS tracks (you can use the App offline, too)

    2. Link to download the tour information material in Pdf:

    • Tour notes
    • Final tour details




  • By your side

    Welcome briefing

    At your arrival on Saturday at 6.30 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 App we will provide you. 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.



    Tour leader

    Our tour leaders are carefully selected and rigourously trained by Girolibero. 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.


    Staff supporto

    In the Final Tour Details you will find the contact phone numbers you can call during the tour in case of emergency.

  • 10 Client reviews
    • Geoff

      Departure 08-15 October 2022

      Online from 20 October 2022

      Elena and the rest of the crew were fantastic; the tour itself was a great experience;
    • Diane

      Departure 08-15 October 2022

      Online from 20 October 2022

      Can't wait to do it again next year ...in France!
    • Lois Elizabeth

      Departure 24 September - 01 October 2022

      Online from 10 October 2022

      A very enjoyable week with a lovely group of people and a wonderful guide.
    • Nancy

      Departure 26 October - 02 November 2019

      Online from 07 November 2019

      Absolutely fantastic. We were a party of 8 and we all enjoyed everything. No complaints. Our guide Michela was a complete professional, very knowledge and a great sense of humour.
    • Jean

      Departure 28 September - 05 October 2019

      Online from 10 October 2019

      We had a fantastic trip. The team of 4, Eduardo, Barbara, Sylvia and Antonella were perfect. We really had good moments with all people aboard
    • Hans

      Departure 31 August - 07 September 2019

      Online from 29 September 2019

    • Anne

      Departure 31 August - 07 September 2019

      Online from 12 September 2019

    • Michel

      Departure 17-24 August 2019

      Online from 30 August 2019

      Excellent week. Beautiful organization.
      Thank you to the guide (Michela) for her dynamism, her empathy and her knowledge of the regions crossed.
    • Elizabeth

      Departure 11-18 May 2019

      Online from 27 May 2019

      A wonderful holiday. Fabio was an excellent guide and the meals were amazing. All of the staff were outstanding.
    • Stephen

      Departure 11-18 May 2019

      Online from 23 May 2019

      This was our first bike trip and will not be our last.
      The crew where ALL so pleasant and willing to accommodate / personalized our needs that only comes with a dedicated focus in meeting customer expectations.

Tour details


from 1,030 €

8 Days / 7 Nights, boat Vita Pugna

Tour type

Guided / Self-guided



Season 1 | 8.04.2023
Season 2 | 22.04, 1.07, 15.07, 29.07, 12.08.2023
Season 3 | 6.05, 20.05, 3.06, 17.06, 21.10.2023
Season 4 | 26.08, 9.09, 23.09, 7.10.2023


Guaranteed departure with a minimum of 12 participants.


Price per person

Season 1 | 8.04.2023

1,030 € in twin cabin
1,900 € in twin cabin single use
730 € 3rd person in triple cabin



  • 7 overnights
  • Breakfast
  • Self-made packed lunch
  • 6 dinners
  • Welcome drink
  • Coffee and tea and other hot drinks on board
  • Sheets and towels
  • Courtesy kit
  • Mid-week cabin cleaning service and towel change
  • Bike helmet (to book in advance)
  • App including maps, roadbook, points of interest and GPS tracks
  • Digital tour information
  • English speaking tour leader within an international group
  • Guided visit in Mantua
  • Visit of a cheese factory with tasting of typical Grana Padano
  • Visit of Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum
  • Visit of a historic glass factory on Murano island
  • Some short walking tours
  • Harbour charges
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Zelo / Ferrara-Adria

Not included

  • 1 dinner in Mantua
  • Beverages on board
  • Museums, fees and extras in general
  • Ticket for public transportation in Venice and lagoon (we suggest the ACTV 48h-ticket, 35 €)
  • Venice Municipality Access Fee: it is expected to enter into force on January 1st, 2023 (approx. 18-30 € to be paid on site)
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the section “Included”

Supplements per person

320 € season 2 | 22.04.2023 and 1.07- 12.08.2023
370 € season 3 | 6.05 - 17.06.2023 and 21.10.2023
440 € season 4 | 26.08 - 7.10.2023

50 € special diet | gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan diets

Girolibero rental bikes
100 € Touring bike
250 € E-bike | limited availability
Insurance against theft and damage included.
Own bicycles are not allowed on board.

Extra nights
Mantua and Venice on request


Good to know

This tour offers the chance to choose if pedalling alone or with the whole group, following the tour leader.

Receive our Newsletter

Let’s keep in touch through our newsletter.