(17 reviews)

Guided/Self-guided Bike and Barge / Original tour

Web code IT009

Italy / Mantua-Venice

Aboard Vita Pugna

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.
  • Day by Day


    1. Mantua
    We welcome you aboard your new home-from-home from 5.00 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 stroll into town and savour the historic centre at its most evocative: Benvenuti a Mantova!

    2. 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)

    3. Mantua – Zelo (50 km)
    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 sweeps of the levee towards Ostiglia, renowned for its medieval fortress and fierce fighting in 1945, as the Allies drove Hitler's forces back.
    Next: Bergantino, home of the distinctive Museum of Amusement rides and Popular Entertainment and its collection of street organs, all expertly restored (and thunderous!). This village is also in the heartland of Grana Padano – the arch-rival of Parmesan – and a visit to the local cheese factory, sampling some well seasoned Grana, is de rigueur. We catch up with our barge in 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)
    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 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 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 its Etruscan and Greek heritage. An after-dinner passeggiata into town for a well-earned grappa or gelato is in order.

    5. Adria – Po Delta Nature Reserve –  Island Pellestrina (40 km)
    After a short cruise, we cycle into the delta of the life-giving Po. This unique wetland is the prime 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 palce on the Island Pellestrina, just in front of Chioggia.

    6. Island Pellestrina  – Venice (25 km)

    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!

    7. 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.

    8. Venice
    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: 200 km
    Terrain: 90% tarmac, 10% 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 a few short ups and downs. Little effort required, suitable for everyone.


  • How to get there

    Mantua is connected with the following airports:
    Verona: 45 km, Venice: 120 km, Treviso: 130 km, Bergamo: 150 km, Milan: 180 km.


    For information on timetables and prices you can consult the following website: 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 area
    • 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. They are experienced enthusiastic travelers who have a true passion for sharing their love of the outdoors, peoples, cultures and local food. Thanks to their 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 on how to correctly use the bicycle gears and whenever necessary they can fix a flat tyre. As we like to say, our tour leaders are AOC (Controlled Designation of Origin), and will help you explore the land  and live an unforgettable experience.


    Staff support

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

  • 17 Client reviews
    • Margaret

      Departure 2023

      I biked in the rain with Helmut, rode comfortably on the barge thanks to Andrea ,and ate food that i had struggled with for many months.Silvia’s amazing skills with food were quite astounding to me. I will look for her and her crew when I rebook. I’m home back in Canada now and find myself longing for even the rainy bike days along the Po….
    • Mark

      Departure 2023

      A fantastic trip!!

      Our two friends, my wife and I joined the Mantua (Mantova) to Venice cycle trip on 13th May 2023. The trip was everything we could have hoped for. A friendly group of travellers joined our Tour Guide Helmut and the wonderful team on our vessel – The Vita Pugna. Weather was not great, but we still completed all days riding. The meals on board were exceptional and we tried many dishes local to the areas we passed through that normally would not be on my menu selection.

      Scenery on route and places we passed through were fantastic. Helmut guided us through quiet country roads, quaint villages and major centres along the way, pointing out items of interest and giving us a detailed background to what we were seeing. We had plenty of time to stop for coffee, sightsee and enjoy the many places we visited.

      An outstanding trip in general and we are looking towards our next adventure!
    • Joseph

      Departure 20-27 August 2022

      Online from 04 September 2022

      Great people they took care of us well although I would have enjoyed a bit more distance.
    • Sandra

      Departure 07-14 September 2019

      Online from 04 November 2019

      I just wanted to write a short thank you to all your team at Giro Libero. We did the Mantua to Venice aboard Vita Pugna starting on the 7th September, and thoroughly enjoyed it, and have and will in future highly recommended it to anyone who asks us how it went. The team, Stefania our guide, Silvia and Dany the chefs, and Eduardo the Captain were absolutely fantastic. We have previously done Amsterdam to Brugge by bike/barge and the three Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by biking, and all agreed the Mantua to Venice was the best yet. Stefania was superb, a real asset to your team. Nothing was too much trouble for her. When we are ready to book our next trip we will definitely research any other holidays you manage.

      Once again, thank you 100 times for our splendid trip
      Best regards
    • Jil

      Departure 05-12 October 2019

      Online from 26 October 2019

      We were in Italy for 2 1/2 weeks, and the bike trip was the best part!
    • Barry

      Departure 07-14 September 2019

      Online from 19 September 2019

      A perfect holiday for anyone wanting a cycle tour without the constant re-packing!
    • Peter

      Departure 01-08 June 2019

      Online from 13 June 2019

      It was a great holiday for me. A great format and great food. I cannot praise our tour guide Silvia enough. She was more than excellent and made a major contribution to the success of the holiday.
      Travelling alone can be difficult but the group were very friendly. It was gentle tourism. When 18 people arrive in a small village in Italy on bikes the locals are mildly amused to see you. When 5 cruise ships arrive in Venice. It is an invasion.
    • Bernard and Sheldon

      Departure 2019

      Online from 03 June 2019

      My wife and I have just spent 8 days on the . Vita Pugna . It was a fantastic trip.You are very fortunate to have such great people working for you.The captain Samuele, the two lovely chefs Esther and Irene and a great guide Hien made this one of the best holidays that we have had.They could not do enough to make sure that we all had a great time.The food, the information,and happy atmosphere were first class.We were also fortunate that the other passengers were very friendly and all mixed well.We will certainly be recommending your boat and cycling tours to our friends.Thank you all once again.
    • Frank Jeffrey

      Departure 18-25 May 2019

      Online from 31 May 2019

      The team of Fabio, Silvia, Barbera, and Eduardo where fantastic. The food was remarkable and the attention by Fabio as our guide was exemplary.
    • Paola

      Departure 20-27 April 2019

      Online from 23 May 2019

      Barca, equipaggio e tour leader perfetti. Itinerario bello. Particolarmente bello l'arrivo a Venezia, prima attraversando in bici la deliziosa Pellestrina e poi passando in barca davanti Piazza S.Marco gremita di gente... e noi sul ponte a bere Spritz!!!!
    • Elena

      Departure 2017

      Online from 16 August 2017

      Viaggio meraviglioso a bordo della bellissima e accogliente Vita Pugna. Lo consiglio a chiunque voglia riscoprire un territorio dalla bellezza tutta da scoprire. Un sincero grazie alla crew e alla guida Michela.
    • Linda, Canada

      Departure 2017

      Online from 12 July 2017

      Hi Maddalena,
      I've been meaning to email you about the trip, I haven't posted anything on-line but wanted to tell you as you were our first connect. The trip was fantastic. From my interactions with you to our guide, Bert, to the crew Sylvia, Samuele and captain Giovanni. The riding was the perfect amount of time and the food at the end of the day was superb! I have been highly recommending Girolibero to everyone! I will definitely consider doing another trip with you.
      Thanks again and sorry for the delayed reply.
    • Karen, Canada

      Departure 2017

      Online from 31 May 2017

      Biking itinerary: perfect for me. Just the right amount of biking. Interesting stops. My favourites were the Grana Padano cheese factory and the museum of fair rides.

      Accommodation on the Vita Pugna: very comfortable. Best food I have ever had on a trip! Love the coffee machine!

      Crew: Super. Helpful and personable.

      The bikes: Excellent. Well maintained. Easy to adjust seat and handlebars.
    • Diane, Canada

      Departure 2017

      Online from 16 May 2017

      We had a wonderful time on our bike/barge trip, Mantua to Venice. Can't wait to do another trip with Girolibero, with Tamara, maybe, that would be great, she was a terrific tour guide. I am already looking at the Paris to London trip for 2018 so a quick question first:
      Is it available as a guided tour only in July and August?
      Le seguenti impressioni sono state pubblicate prima del nuovo sistema di rating

      Filby Edwin John & Diane

      Departure 2016

      Online from 21 September 2016

      We just want to let you know that we really enjoyed our biking holiday aboard the Vita Pugna.
      Tammy and the other barge staff made it a fun and rewarding experience.
      We have lots of fond memories of the biking and would certainly recommend your company to others
    • Clare, South Africa

      Departure 2016

      Online from 12 July 2016

      Hi - we recently completed a wonderful boat and bike trip from Mantova to Venice with Licia and your very competent crew on board Vita Pugna. amazing experience, fun, well organised and the most amazing food! (...) we will definitely recommend it to our South African friends and I would like to pass on your details to our travel agent if that is ok?
    • Cheryl, Rhode Island, Usa

      Departure 2016

      Online from 04 July 2016

      Hi Giulio,

      We had a fantastic time on our tour! Everything was great - we can't say enough about how wonderful girolibero is. We especially enjoyed our guides,and the food was awesome! My husband and I hope to do another tour next summer.

Tour details


from 1,050 €

8 days / 7 nights, boat Vita Pugna

Tour type

Guided / Self-guided



Season 1 | 13.04.2024
Season 2 | 27.04, 6.07, 20.07, 3.08, 17.08.2024
Season 3 | 11.05, 25.05, 8.06, 22.06.2024
Season 4 | 31.08, 14.09, 28.09, 12.10.2024

Guaranteed departure with a minimum of 12 participants.


Find here departures from Venice to Mantua aboard Vita Pugna


Find here departures from Mantua to Venice aboard Ave Maria



Price per person

Season 1 | 13.04.2024

1,050 € in twin cabin
1,950 € in twin cabin single use
750 € 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 Amusement rides and Popular Entertainment Museum
  • Visit of a historic glass factory on Murano island
  • Some short walking tours
  • Harbour charges
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Adria

Not included

  • 1 dinner
  • 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, 2024 (approx. 18-30 € to be paid on site)
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the section “Included”

Supplements per person

350 € season 2 | 27.04.2024 and 6.07- 17.08.2024
450 € season 3 | 11.05 - 22.06.2024
550 € season 4 | 31.08 - 12.10.2024

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

Girolibero rental bikes
110 € Touring bike
270 € E-bike | limited availability
Insurance against theft and damage included.
Own bicycles are not allowed on board.

Extra nights
Mantua and Venice on request


Pre-trip extension | Verona
Price on request including:
- 1 or 2 nights with breakfast in our 4* partner hotel in Verona
- Transfer from Verona to Mantua


Good to know

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

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