Guided/Self-guided Bike and Barge / Cycling


Italy / Bolzano - Mantua - Venice

Aboard Vita Pugna

You will be delighted by the remarkable variety of this tour, offering you a unique opportunity to combine a more classical bike&hotel tour with a bike&barge trip in the Po Valley till Venice. The cycling route starts in the heart of the superb Dolomites and following the course of the river Adige takes you to the palm-lined shores of Lake Garda. Further on you will reach the enchanting Renaissance town of Mantua, where you will embark aboard the Vita Pugna. Cycling along waterways, through hamlets and into the surprising Ferrara, you will reach the Po Delta, a unique wetland park which is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to several colonies of flamingos. The Po river flows eventually into the Venetian lagoon, where you will cycle through Chioggia, known as “little Venice”. At the end of the trip you will be welcomed by wonderful Venice, a town that has lured passersby for centuries (and still does).
  • Day by Day

    1. Bolzano

    Individual arrival. Located along the Isarco river, bilingual Bolzano has always been at the crossroads between the Mediterranean and central Europe. Today it is an important commercial and tourist centre.


    2. Bolzano – Trento (65/70 km)

    You will start riding along the River Adige cycle path, through orchards and the vineyards of the renowned Wine Route. Half way between Bolzano and Trento you will reach Salorno, which represents the linguistic border between the German and the Italian world. It is possible to shorten the stage by taking the train in several train stations along the way.


    3. Trento – Desenzano/Peschiera (50 km by bike + ferry)

    The river Adige will take you to Rovereto, famous for its museum of modern and contemporary art. After a short ascent to Passo di San Giovanni, you will enjoy a superb view over the Garda Lake and the little town of Torbole. Then in Riva del Garda you will take a ferry to reach the southern part of the lake.


    4. Desenzano/Peschiera – Mantua (70/45 km)

    Today you will cycle following one of the most famous Italian cycle paths, which runs parallel to the River Mincio. The stage ends in Mantua, where you will embark aboard your barge. 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 stroll into town and savour the historic centre at its most evocative: Benvenuti a Mantova!


    5. Mantua round tour (35 km)

    A day dedicated to the discovery of this little visited cultural gem, its three picturesque “lakes” formed by the Mincio, and its surrounding countryside – once a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family and now considered by many as Italy’s “Sleeping Beauty”.

    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.


    6. 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 Fairground Rides 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.


    7. 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.


    8. Adria – Po Delta Nature Reserve –  Pellestrina Island (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. 


    9. Pellestrina Island  – Venice (30 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. 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!


    10. 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.


    11. Venice

    Departure after breakfast.



    Due to organisational reasons, weather conditions or provisions issued by local authorities, the itinerary may be subject to some changes before and/or during your holiday. For example, along the way you may find temporary deviations caused by roadworks, which cannot be foreseen; in this case please follow the indications you will find on site.


    In case of strike, bad weather conditions, technical breakdowns, safety problems or any other reason preventing the regular departure of the ferry boat (from Riva del Garda to Peschiera/Desenzano), the ferry boat company can delay, cancel or deviate the navigation without notice.

    In case of cancellation the ferry boat service will be replaced by alternative means of transport (usually by bus). The same applies if the ferry boat service is no longer foreseen (for example at the end of the season).


    The programme of the bike and barge tour (from Mantua to Venice) has been planned to feature navigation along the Fissero/ Bianco canal, which runs parallel to the Po and connects Mantua to the Adriatic Sea. 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: 365 km
    • Total vertical up: 590/770 m
    • Terrain: 95% asphalt, 5% unpaved
    • Train connection among the overnight stays: day 2, 3, 4
    • Possibility to shorten the itinerary by taking the train: day 2 and 3

    From Bolzano to Mantua you will ride on well-planned cycle lanes, part of which run along the Adige banks. Towards Lake Garda there is a bit more challenging climb to face. From Mantua to Venice you will pedal along rivers and canals on tarmac cycle paths or roads with low traffic.
    Easy cycling in mostly flat areas, with only few short climbs and descents. Little effort required, suitable for most people.


  • How to get there

    Bolzano is connected with the following airports:
    Innsbruck: 120 km, Verona: 150 km, Bergamo: 240 km, Venice: 280 km, Treviso: 280 km, Milan: 300 km.


    For further information on timetables and prices you can consult the following website:



  • Accommodation and meals

    We personally choose all the hotels mindful of your comfort as well as the proximity to cycling paths and any relevant local sites. 

    From Bolzano to Mantua you will be accommodated in 3/4* hotels.

    All rooms have en suite facilities. Some hotels located in mountainous places of northern Italy can be without air conditioning.

    When you book the tour please specify the type of room requested:

    • double room is a room with one double bed
    • twin room is a room with two single beds
    • triple room is usually a room with one double bed and a single bed or a rollaway.

    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. 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 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: soap, shower gel, shampoo, shower cap



  • Bikes and accessories

    Girolibero’s City bikes are available in various sizes in unisex models. At the moment of booking, you can choose among the following bikes:


    • City bike 27-gear Shimano Deore
    • E-bike


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


    We remind you that you will ride the same unisex bike for the whole duration of the tour, from Bolzano to Venice.



    All rented adult bikes are equipped with:

    • 1 cycle computer  
    • 1 Ortlieb one-sided saddlebag
    • 1 front bar bag or 1 map holder
    • 1 water bottle (0.75 l)
    • 1 repair kit per room: 1 spare inner tube, glue, patch, a pump, 2 allen keys and tyre levers
    • 1 combination bike lock

    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 room/cabin) includes:

    • final hotel list (Bolzano-Mantua): due to overbooking or organizational needs your hotel list may be changed just before your arrival
    • luggage labels to be fixed at each piece of baggage, which has to be carried
    • hotel vouchers to be given to the reception of each hotel on your arrival
    • Lake Garda ferry-boat voucher: give this voucher to the ticket office in Riva del Garda to get your passage by ferry-boat to Peschiera or Desenzano del Garda
    • Girolibero Greens booklets:
      1) 2 Travel guides with valuable information about the history, artistic heritage, landscapes and natural treasures of the areas visited on the tour. Plus: local events, some great anecdotes, suggestions on how to make the best of an extended break along the route, and tips on local wining and dining.
      2) 2 Detailed Maps of the itinerary: in colour and scaled 1:75.000/50.000, an altitude profile chart and maps of any historic city centres you would visit.
      3) 2 Roadbooks describing the cycling route, stage by stage. Great on its own or in conjunction with the maps.



  • By your side

    In Bolzano you will meet our representative who:

    • will present you the tour
    • will deliver you the bikes
    • will be at your disposal (about 30 minutes) for any questions you may have.

    The exact time and place of the meeting will be specified in the Final Tour Details. We kindly ask you to advise if you cannot attend the meeting.


    During the Bike&Barge tour from Mantua to Venice you will be accompanied by a Tour Leader.
    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.


    During your bike tour you can contact us:

    • office +39 0444 1278430 from Monday to Friday 8:30-13:00 and 15:00-18:30
    • emergency phone number every day 8:00-20:00. The number will be specified in the Final Tour Details.
  • 4 Client reviews
    • Dianne

      Departure 2018

      Online from 07 November 2018

      I strongly recommend Girolibero cycle tours. I have now cycled a self-guided, guided, and bike and barge trip with Girolibero and I recommend them for a variety of reasons.

      Accommodations: Very good
      Luggage transport: Excellent
      Information packet: Comprehensive and reliable

      Orientation: Very good. Due to one of us having substantial hearing loss, the accent of the presenter was at times difficult to overcome. Follow up questions were always addressed.

      Emergency response: Excellent. Both Paul and I needed Girolibero emergency response during our cycle tour from Bolzano to Venice. During a self-guided ride from Bolzano to Trento, I became sick and needed to be picked up and transported to our next hotel in Trento. A test message to Girolibero allowed me to be picked up and transported to Trento without harming my health. Both Paul and I were eternally grateful. In addition the next day Paul was riding the tandem by himself, and unbeknownst to him the right pannier fell off the bike. Because we had our Girolibero information inside of the pannier the Italian woman who found the bag on the cycle track along the river, phoned Girolibero emergency # and an hour later the pannier was returned to us. This was a big deal for us. Our computer was inside of the pannier and thankfully was returned in tack.

      Cycle tours in Europe are awesome and a well run business is essential in making your tour everything you hoped it would be. As a retired person, who happens to be a double amputee, I am always concerned about what might happen if my health creates problems on the trip. I now know that Girolibero will be there for me if difficulties have to be overcome.

      Thank you for two great trips this fall. Our team of friends will forever be grateful. And I forgot to mention the food! How could I have done that? On the bike and barge trip from Mantua to Venice, the food was everything you want it to be. Outrageously good!
    • Keith

      Departure 2018

      Online from 29 October 2018

      Just completed the Mid October tour from Bolzano to Venice. First I want to thank you for the beautiful weather. The Vita Pugna with 18 bikers was a good size. The tour leader Michela is a jewel. The captain and cooks brought joy to their work. Their team work was evident. We enjoyed our fellow bikers from the USA and Germany. We always looked forward to the evening meals. Outstanding!

      The self guided three days from Bolzano to Mantua were more challenging with more spectacular scenery (Lake Garda and the grape and olive orchards were interesting and on lovely bike paths.

      The bike and barge had easier mostly flat biking days, filled with wonderful stops to a cheese factory, carnival rides museum and so on. Everyday included a different delight. The tour leader was very helpful in getting us situated in Venice with water bus schedules and transportation to train station and airport.

      We so much appreciated the nature of the bike and barge with meals prepared, a guide leading on the trails and roads, no packing and unpacking each day, and help with connections. It is a real vacation.
    • Réal, Canada

      Departure 2014

      Online from 09 February 2015

      Hello Anna,

      You will remember that I did the "Bolzano to Mantua...and Mantua to Venice tours" last April.

      For your info, I just received by mail your superb "2015 brochure" ...en effet, c'est loin Montréal il semble...ça prend beaucoup de temps à arriver la poste...hihihi...très apprécié cependant, j'avoue.

      CONGRATULAZIONI...FÉLICITATIONS...CONGRATULATIONS to all the Girolibero team...a great quality publication...really professional in all's a pleasure to acknowledge so.

      It comes at the right time as I am already starting to plan 2 bike-tours for 2015 : one with my 13 year-old grand-son ( probably your "Paris/London" in July as he was born there ) and one with 3 friends ( Passau/Vienna along the Danube in May) your info is a good complement to your internet site.

      As I also read about your "photo contest", I include a few from "a Québec fan"...just to participate, not to win.

      Merci encore pour l'excellent service, Anna, et au plaisir !

    • Réal

      Departure 2014

      Online from 19 May 2014

      I am just back in Montréal from a great holiday (May 3rd to Mat 10 th ) on the Vita Pugna with André (Captain) and his dedicated crew ( Sara, Vera, Sam ) and Michela (guide and tour leader). Top service and super delicious food were their natural performance all week long and we ( Barbara, Klaus, Loes, Jellie, Monika and Marylise ) very much appreciated the whole Tour and would highly recommend it.
  • 1 Variations
    • Bike and Barge


      Bolzano - Mantua - Venice

      Aboard Ave Maria

      11 Days / 10 Nights from 1740 €

Tour details


from 1,530 €

11 Days / 10 Nights, 3/4* hotels & barge Vita Pugna

Price per person

1,530 € double room/twin cabin, season 1



Season 1: 1.05 - 21.08.2019

Season 2: 4.09 - 18.09.2019


Every two Wednesdays from 1.05 to 18.09.2019

WED 1.05, 15.05, 29.05, 12.06, 26.06, 10.07, 24.07, 7.08, 21.08, 4.09, 18.09.2019



  • 3 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast buffet (in Bolzano, Trento and Peschiera/Desenzano)
  • 7 overnights on board Vita Pugna with full board (breakfast, dinner and a self-made packed lunch)
  • Coffee and tea and other hot drinks on board
  • Sheets and towels
  • Complimentary courtesy kit
  • Daily short cleaning and mid-week cabin cleaning service and towel change
  • Bike helmet
  • Welcome briefing in English
  • Travel Guide, Maps, Roadbook
  • English speaking tour leader within an international group (only for the bike&barge section)
  • Luggage transportation up to Mantua
  • Guided visit in Venice and Mantua
  • Visit of a cheese factory with tasting of typical Grana Padano
  • Visit of Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum
  • Harbour charges
  • 4-hour ferry cruise on Lake Garda
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Adria
  • Hotline service


Not included

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



100 € season 2

390 € single room/cabin

140 € Girolibero bike

315 € E-bike

50 € special diet aboard Vita Pugna (gluten-free and vegan diets)


Extra nights in double/single room with breakfast:

75/100 € 3/4* hotel in Bolzano

65/85 € 3/4* hotel in Mestre

from 90/150 € 3/4* hotel in Venice




310 € 3rd adult in the room/cabin


Good to know

Bolzano-Mantua Bike and Hotel: only self-guided tour.
Mantua-Venice Bike and Barge: you can 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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