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Italy by Bike and Barge

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Homepage > Italy > Italy by Bike and Barge
  • Duration: 7 Nights
  • Difficulty: Level 1-2
  • Tour Type: Self Guided/Guided
  • Availability: On selected dates
  • Location: Mantova or Venice

Italian Bike and Barge

Tour Details

A voyage of discovery along Italian canals and rivers, onboard a piece of Holland.

Welcome to Hooked on Cycling holidays and our cycling holidays in Italy. This biking vacation in Italy is a bike and barge guided cycle tour. Overnight you sleep on a barge and during the day cycle to a new location to re-board the barge again. This is a wonderfully relaxing way to experience Italy with a new perspective.

The itinerary winds its way along the Mincio and the Po rivers, penetrating through rural areas of the Italian countryside that are still untouched and ends in the warm embrace of the Venetian Lagoon. This territory has been reclaimed from the marshes for many centuries now and is framed by green pine woods, which offer protection for numerous species of animals. The work of man overlaps nature in a constant game of roles, reclaimed land alternates with natural canals, fishermen’s huts are camouflaged in the reeds, and bridges formed of boats reduce the distances between strips of sand. We run the trip in both directions Mantova to Venice and the following week Venice to Mantova.

Vita Pugna and Ave Maria are available from 6th April to 26th October 2023.

Vita Pugna starting from Venice on 20/4, 4/5, 18/5, 1/6, 15/6, 29/6, 13/7, 27/7, 10/8, 24/8, 7/9, 21/9, 5/10, 19/10.
Vita Pugna starting from Mantova on 13/4, 27/4, 11/5, 25/5, 8/6, 22/6, 6/7, 20/7, 3/8, 17/8, 31/8, 14/9, 28/9, 12/10.
Ave Maria starting from Venice on 13/4, 27/4, 11/5, 25/5, 8/6, 22/6, 6/7, 20/7, 3/8, 17/8, 31/8, 14/9, 28/9, 12/10, 26/10
Ave Maria starting from Mantova on 6/4, 20/4, 4/5, 18/5, 1/6, 15/6, 29/6, 13/7, 27/7, 10/8, 24/8, 7/9, 21/9, 5/10, 19/10.

Starting Location

Mantova or Venice

Price Includes

  • 7 Nights bed, breakfast & dinner
  • 6 Dinners (no dinner on one of the nights in Venice)
  • Self-Made Lunch Picnics
  • Coffee tea and hot drinks on board
  • Tour leader
  • Welcome drink
  • Information pack
  • Sheets and towels
  • Harbour charges
  • Guided visit of Mantova
  • Visit to Cheese factory
  • Visit historic glass factory on Murano Island
  • Visit of Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Zelo, Ferrara-Adria
  • Routes and Maps via smart phone App

Price Excludes

  • Transport before and after tour
  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Hybrid Rental Bike
  • E-Bike Rental Bike
  • Extra nights pre or post tour
  • Single Supplement
  • City Tax
  • Season supplements
  • Special diet supplement
  • Public transport costs in Venice and lagoon
  • Venice Municipality Access Fee (approx. 18-30€)
  • Tips
  • Beverages
  • Ticket for public transport in Venice (we suggest the ACTV 48 hour ticket at around 35€).
Trip Info

The programme has been planned to feature the 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 barge’s captain.

Route Characteristics

This cycling holiday is largely on the flats of the Po Plains on mostly tarmac cycle paths alongside rivers and canals or quiet country roads. Sometimes parts of the route are undertaken by boat, this allows for easier access onto the cycling paths or simply to enjoy the cruise.


There are 2 barges on this route, Vita Pugna meaning, ”Life is a battle”, equivalent 3 stars, is 36 metres long, 5.4 metres wide Dutch barge boat. The 11 cabins can accommodate up to 23/25 guests. Each cabin has low twin beds and a private bathroom with shower.

The barge also has a restaurant and a spacious outside deck area, which is ideal for parking your bikes and of course sunbathing. The second barge Ave Maria is 4-star equivalent and is 41 metres long, 7.5m wide. 17 cabins can accommodate 40 guests.13 double cabins and 4 single cabins (or double with bunk beds), each with bathrooms and air-conditioning. There is a living room with a restaurant and lounge area, two sun decks and a large parking area for 40 bikes.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Hooked on Cycling that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the chosen activity and for emergency evacuation and hospital care.


NOTE: During the weeks in which departures are from Venice to Mantova, the “daily programme” needs to be read in reverse order.

Day 1 Mantova

Arrival Mantova where your floating hotel is docked. The cabins are available from 6.00 p.m. The meeting with the tour leader and the crew is scheduled at dinner-time, at 6.30 p.m. Mantova is one of the most beautiful towns in Northern Italy, where a lot of worldwide known artists left their masterpieces, thanks to the assignment of the famous Gonzaga family. After dinner, there is a short stroll into the town to take a look around.

Day 2 Mantova Round tour 22 miles 35 km

The day is spent on a lovely round trip cycle ride to explore the city of Mantova. Ruled by the Gonzaga family 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. A ride through the centre soon takes us past Palazzo Tè, on the outskirts of the Gonzagas’ summer residence. Onwards to the hamlet of Grazie with its lovely historic church. During the 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.

Day 3Mantova –Governolo–Zelo approx 31 miles 50 km

The boat takes you to Governolo, a stronghold of the Mincio Pirates, where there is the biggest basin of Italy, built in order to control the Mincio River. Here you take the bikes and start your first ride, keeping on following the River Po, until the village of Ostiglia, with the ruins of a medieval fortress. After a ride along the ‘Canal Bianco” you will reach Zelo, where the barge will moor for the night.

Day 4Zelo–Ferrara–Adria approx 31 miles 50 km by bike +60 km by bus

After breakfast, you will start cycling towards Ferrara. Once you have reached the town, which earned the name of “city of bicycles” you will be enchanted by the historical centre, still surrounded by the old city walls. From Ferrara a short bus transfer will bring you to Adria, an ancient Greek port, famous for trading amber coming from the Baltic.

Day 5Adria-Porto Viro – Chioggia/Pellestrina 25 miles 40km

The boat will bring you to Porto Viro, from where you will start the daily ride into the maze of the Po Delta, an uncontaminated paradise between marshes and lagoons of the Po, pedalling in the heart of nature. The destination is Chioggia, known as little Venice.

Day 6 Chioggia/Pellestrina – Venice approx 19 miles 30 km

A visit to the fish market at dawn is an absolute “must”! The boat then brings you to the nature reserve of Ca’ Roman. Pedalling along the lagoon, you reach Pellestrina: from here, riding on the cycle path you reach the ferry landing stage. A short ferry-boat ride takes you the up the Lido island, along the “Murazzi”, with a stop in Malamocco. After the final short ride, you reach again the barge for the overnight stay.

Day 7Venice. Free Day

After breakfast, we wander off the beaten track with your tour leader where 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.

Day 8Departure from Venice.

After breakfast and the customary goodbyes, free time for individual visits, or return home, if you haven’t booked an extra night.

NOTE: During the weeks in which departures are from Venice to Mantova, the “daily programme” needs to be read in reverse order.


How to get there

By Plane To Venice, Vicenza or Verona airports where you can transfer to Mantova or Venice by train

Book Now

2024 Prices – For a complete tour price breakdown please click the book now button and select your holiday tour date. Prices will then be listed.

Special terms and conditions apply:- 40% deposit at the time of booking, cancellation up to 42 days prior loss of deposit, 26-41 days 60%, 0-25 days 100%.

 Tour Code Prices From (per person) Book Now
IBIKEB – Vita Pugna (7 Nights)  from £1046 Mantova to Venice Venice to Mantova
IBIKEB – Ave Maria (7 Nights) from £1196 Venice to Mantova Mantova to Venice
Tour Images
Boat on the water