Venice to Mantua: by bike and boat along Italy’s glorious Po valley

Jun 27, 2023 653

Ten years ago, while exploring the Renaissance city of Mantua in Lombardy, I bumped into a bunch of cyclists embarking on a “bike and barge” trip all the way to Venice. It sounded like the perfect way to hit the quiet backroads of the little-known Polesine region, which surrounds the Po River and stretches to the Adriatic.

Finally, here I am, joining the trip (though in the opposite direction), boarding the Ave Maria, which is moored behind Palladio’s iconic Redentore church on the island of Giudecca. The once rust-encrusted 42-metre transport boat was saved from the scrapheap by local tour operator Girolibero and transformed into a very comfortable 17-cabin floating hotel.

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