Day 1 - Mantua
From 4.30pm onwards you will be welcomed aboard the Ave Maria which will be your home for the next week. At 6.30pm you are invited to an introductory briefing with your tour leader, the skipper and crew and you can enjoy a refreshing aperitivo.
After dinner, you can stroll into town and enjoy the historic centre of Mantua.
Day 2 - Mantua round tour 35km
Today you will cycle to three picturesque lakes formed by the Mincio and somewhat of a cultural gem in these parts. The surrounding countryside is now considered by many locals as Italy's 'Sleeping Beauty'.
A cruise on a local barge will allow you to discover waters rich in bird life, lilies and other aquatic flora.
In the afternoon you will meet your Mantuan guide for a walking tour of the historic centre and enjoy the rest of the day in town at your own leisure.
Day 3 - Mantua – Zelo 50 km
After breakfast you will set sail from the lakes of Mantua and cruise through the lush wetlands that lead to the Governolo Lock where Mantua's River Mincio flows into the Po.
Here you will begin your cycling towards Ostiglia which is a medieval fortress renowned for its medieval fortress and fierce flighting 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. 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 a must!.
You will catch up with the Ave Maria in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.
Day 4 - Zelo – Ferrara – Adria 50 km by bike + 60 km by bus
This morning you will cross the Po River and ride south through farmland, orchards and hamlets as far as Ferrara. This city attracts 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 nest and the town is dubbed the 'Cycling Capital of Italy'.
A private bus and trailer then take you back to your 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.
Day 5 - Adria – Po Delta Nature Reserve – Chioggia/Pellestrina 40 km
After a short cruise this morning you will cycle into the delta of the Po. This unique wetland is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to a large colony of flamingos.
Weather permitting as we continue towards Chioggia, you can also enjoy a break at a fine sand beach nearby for a dip in the Adriatic.
Also known as 'Little Venice', the colourful fishing hub of Chioggia is a great place to make your own bigoli for dinner. This quintessentially Venetian type of pasta is at its best when made fresh and served with a creamy baccalà sauce.
Day 6 - Chioggia/Pellestrina – Venice 30 km
Pellestrina is the first of two islands you will traverse today. It is a humble and tranquil fishing backwater, picturesque as ever with its cottages, boats and nets.
A short island hop by ferry lands you on the Lido di Venezia which is now home to the Venice Film Festival and its galaxy of stars.
After rejoining the Ave Maria you will be taken to Venice where you can enjoy this vibrant city after dinner.
Day 7 - Venice
After breakfast – and perhaps following a wander off the beaten track with your tour leader – you all meet up with the 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 8 - Departure home
Departure home after breakfast.
Tour is suggested from Mantua to Venice but on alternate weeks, you can do the tour from Venive to Mantua
If you would like to add some additional days in Venice, we can arrange these for you - do get in touch.