Guided/Self-guided Bike and Barge / Original tour


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 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!

    2. 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.

    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 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.

    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 (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!

    7. 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.

    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: 205 km
    Total vertical up: 20 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.


    Easy cycling in mostly flat areas, with only few short climbs and descents. Little effort required, suitable for most people.


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


  • Accommodation and meals

    Take a virtual tour and watch our photo gallery!


     The boat 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 Citybikes are available in various sizes in unisex models. At the moment of booking, you can choose from the following bikes:

    • Unisex Citybike
    • E-bike


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


    All rented adult bikes are equipped with:

    • 1 cycle computer  
    • 1 Ortlieb one-sided saddlebag
    • 1 water bottle (0.75 l)
    • 1 combination bike lock
    • 1 helmet suitable for head circumferences from 54 to 61

    Only for self-guided:

    • 1 front bar bag or 1 map holder
    • 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.


  • Accompanying material

    The Information Pack (one per cabin) includes:

    Girolibero Greens booklets:
    1) Travel Guide 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) 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) Roadbook describing the cycling route, stage by stage. Great on its own or in conjunction with the maps.



  • 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 roadbook and maps you have. 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 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.


    Staff support

    For the whole duration of your bike tour, you can contact us:

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


  • 13 Client reviews
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • Evelyn & Ron (Canmore, Alberta, Canada)

      Departure 2015

      Online from 11 January 2016

      We are writing to say how much we enjoyed our trip with you from Mantua to Venice, May 9 – 16, 2015, bicycling, and living on board the Vita Pugna.

      We loved the Vita Pugna. Our room, the dining room and the outside deck were very comfortable, and overall the boat was charming. Also we thought it was the perfect size group.

      Our guide was Michela and she was excellent. We loved the bicycling on bicycle trails and also on the roads with very little traffic. The roads on top of the flood berm were lovely – it was nice to be up high and be able to look into the villages and farming country. And we also enjoyed the towns and cities that we explored. We also really liked the other stops we had each day – all were interesting, and Michela was full of local knowledge. Especially we liked the visit to the Grana Padano factory – our favourite appetizer now is Grana Padano cheese with Taralli crackers! And it was great to have gelato at 10:00 in the morning! We have not be able to find gelato as good in Canada. Michela was always cheerful and full of enthusiasm, and had a lovely sense of humour.

      Our cooks were wonderful – Stefania and Sara. The food on the Vita Pugna was the best food we had in Italy, and maybe was the best we have ever had in many years while travelling. We know they did not have a large kitchen, but they produced great meals. And like Michela, there were always smiling and enthusiastic.

      Filippo was an excellent captain and was always helping out with other duties.

      We will always have very happy memories of this trip, and have already recommended it to some of our friends.

      Thank you.
    • Cécile, France

      Departure 2014

      Online from 29 December 2014


      Un viaggio perfetto ! Abbiamo adorato, eravamo in gruppo. Niente da dire,
      tutto perfetto, equipaggio fantastico, cibo squisito, bici comodissime, lo
      vogliamo rifare ma in Puglia con altro gruppo !! Poi in Francia..... :-)
    • Winfried Klein

      Departure 2014

      Online from 23 June 2014

      Hallo liebes Girolibero Team,

      vielen Dank für die schöne Tour von Mantova – Venedig. Es war alles wunderbar und wir hatten alle viel Spaß.

      Auch unseren Dank an das tolle Team der „Vita Pugna“. Il capitano Andre und die super Köchinnen Sylvia und Sarah sowie unserem Radführer Marco.

      Wir werden ganz bestimmt eine neue Tour mit Girolibero machen.

      Herzliche Grüße
    • Robert and Jennifer

      Departure 2014

      Online from 09 May 2014

      My wife and I took part in this tour last week. I want to let you know that we enjoyed the week hugely and the enjoyment was greatly due to your staff on the Vita Pugna. Martina was a wonderful tour leader and she went above her duty to see that we saw a “slice” of real Italy - she was simply superb. Also the food and welcome on board the Vita Pugna was terrific - how Sara and Vera managed to serve such wonderful food I don’t know, but we really enjoyed it!! Andre was also a genial Captain and good fun.
      Now that we have discovered your company, I think you’ll be seeing more of us!!!
    • Filippo, Roma

      Departure 2013

      Online from 17 June 2014

      Ciao Elena,
      volevo dirti che la nostra settimana dal 24 al 31 agosto sulla Vita Pugna è stata fantastica!!!!
      Mi fa veramente piacere esprimere la grandissima soddisfazione di mia moglie (Elena) e mia.
      Grande professionalità, cortesia, disponibilità, simpatia e quant’altro di più positivo da parte di tutti: da Martina (accompagnatrice) a tutto l’equipaggio (Caterina, Silvia, Vera ed il capitano Andrè).
      Ottima la ristorazione, tutta l’organizzazione in generale, la scelta dei percorsi ecc. : faremo sicuramente grande pubblicità a Girolibero verso tutti i nostri amici, parenti e conoscenti di Roma e non solo.
      Con l’occasione desidero ringraziare anche te e tutta la vostra struttura: sempre gentilissimi ed efficaci.

      Un caro saluto

      Filippo Pentimone
    • Filippo

      Departure 2013

      Online from 03 September 2013

      Ciao Elena,
      volevo dirti che la nostra settimana dal 24 al 31 agosto sulla Vita Pugna è stata fantastica!!!!
      Mi fa veramente piacere esprimere la grandissima soddisfazione di mia moglie (Elena) e mia.
      Grande professionalità, cortesia, disponibilità, simpatia e quant’altro di più positivo da parte di tutti: da Martina (accompagnatrice) a tutto l’equipaggio (Caterina, Silvia, Vera ed il capitano Andrè).
      Ottima la ristorazione, tutta l’organizzazione in generale, la scelta dei percorsi ecc. : faremo sicuramente grande pubblicità a Girolibero verso tutti i nostri amici, parenti e conoscenti di Roma e non solo.
      Con l’occasione desidero ringraziare anche te e tutta la vostra struttura: sempre gentilissimi ed efficaci.

      Un caro saluto


Tour details


from 890 €

8 days / 7 nights, boat Vita Pugna

Tour type

Guided / Self-guided

Price per person

890 € in double cabin, value season



SA 6.04, 20.04, 4.05, 18.05, 1.06, 15.06, 29.06, 13.07, 27.07, 10.08, 24.08, 7.09, 21.09, 5.10, 19.10.2019



  • 7 overnights
  • Full board (breakfast, dinner and a self-made packed lunch)
  • Coffee and tea and other hot drinks on board
  • Sheets and towels
  • Courtesy kit
  • Daily short cleaning and mid-week cabin cleaning service and towel change
  • Bike helmet
  • Travel Guide, Maps, Roadbook
  • English speaking tour leader within an international group
  • 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
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Adria

Not included

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


200 € standard season (13.04 - 24.08 and 19.10.2019)
300 € high season (31.08 - 12.10.2019)
300 € single cabin
50 € special diet (gluten-free and vegan diets)

85 € Girolibero bike
195 € E-bike
Extra nights in double/single room with breakfast*:
45/75 € 3* hotel in Mantua
from 85/125 € 4* hotel in Mantua
65/90 € 3/4* hotel in Mestre
from 90/150 € 3/4* hotel in Venice
*local taxes to be paid on site



250 € 3rd person in cabin


Good to know

This tour offers the chance to choose if pedalling alone (taking advantage of a very detailed route description) or with the whole group, following the tour leader.

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