(2 reviews)

Guided/Self-guided Bike and Barge / Cycling

Web code IT162

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% tarmac, 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 Garda Lake 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.


    Leisure cycling in mostly flat areas, with only a few short ups and downs. Little effort required, suitable for everyone.


  • 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: www.trenitalia.com.



  • 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 sofa bed.






    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)



  • 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
    - 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.

    Bike insurance
    An insurance against theft and damage is included in the rental bike price. In cases of careless or improper behavior the insurance will not cover the costs.

    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 attached to each piece of luggage to be transported
    - hotel vouchers to be handed in to the hotel reception upon arrival
    -  Garda Lake 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) Travel guide with valuable information about the history, artistic heritage, landscapes and places of interest of the areas you pass through during your tour.
    Plus: local events, fun facts, suggestions on how to make the best of an extended break along the route, and tips on local wining and dining.
    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 will visit.
    3) Roadbook 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 illustrate the tour
    - will deliver your bikes
    - will be available (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. 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.

    For the whole duration of your bike tour, you can contact us as follows:
    - 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.


  • 2 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.
  • 1 Variations
    • Bike and Barge


      Bolzano - Mantua - Venice

      Aboard Ave Maria

      11 Days / 10 Nights from 1810 €

Tour details


from 1,590 €

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

Tour type

Self-guided + Guided


Every two Wednesdays from 15.04 to 30.09.2020
WED 15.04, 29.04, 13.05, 27.05, 10.06, 24.06, 8.07, 22.07, 5.08, 19.08, 2.09, 16.09, 30.09.2020


Season 1: 15.04 - 19.08.2020
Season 2: 2.09 - 30.09.2020

Price per person
1,590 € double room/twin cabin, season 1


  • 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”

Supplements per person
450 € single room/cabin
110 € season 2
50 € special diet aboard Vita Pugna (gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan diets)

Extra nights in double/single room with breakfast:
75/100 € 3/4* hotel in Bolzano
70/100 € 3/4* hotel in Mestre
from 90/150 € 3/4* hotel in Venice

Girolibero rental bikes including insurance against theft and damage:
145 € Touring bike
320 € E-bike

310 € 3rd adult in the room/cabin


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