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Easily one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, Venice is a must visit for anyone on their first trip to Italy. Built on the marshy mouths of two rivers, the city is famous the world over for its many canals, bridges, islands and amazing architecture. Could there be a more perfect location for a canal barging adventure?
Let’s get things straight to start with, we’re not talking about your obligatory gondola ride through a Venetian canal here. We’re talking about canal barging aboard larger boats equipped with everything needed for voyages of a week or so. You can learn more about what exactly canal barging is here.
Your Italian canal barging experience starts in Venice. After you and your fellow travellers have arrived, you board La Bella Vita for an evening cruise by some of Venice’s most famous sights. La Bella Vita has only ten rooms, meaning there will be a maximum of twenty guests and 5-8 crew. As you sit down to a beautiful Italian dinner, you’ll drift past famous Venice landmarks like the Chiesa del Redentore, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Punta della Dogana. Eventually you’ll pull up alongside the Naval Museum and tie up for the night. From here you’re only a ten minute walk along the canal to St Mark’s Square, the perfect place for a romantic night cap before bed.
The next day you’re off on a walking tour of Venice. You’ll see all the main sights, and a few of our favourite hidden gems. All the big names such as St Mark’s Square, the stunning artwork of St Mark’s Basilica, and the Campanile will be visited. There’s ample time for those who want to slip away to view the Venetian masterpieces in Gallerie dell'Accademia or take a romantic gondola ride under the Bridge of Sighs. In the afternoon, you get your first real taste of your canal barging as we head for San Pietro in Volta. We’ll cruise past many of Venice’s other islands, and find a sheltered spot to tie up for the night before we enjoy dinner.
Day three arrives and you have the opportunity for a morning walk or cycle on Pellestrina, an eleven kilometre long island that acts like a breakwater between the lagoon and the Adriatic Sea. Then heading south we visit the Venice like city of Chioggia before finally leaving the lagoon and heading inland. Twitchers must keep their eyes peeled next as we cruise through a nature reserve known for its pink flamingos, heron and snipe.
The next few days we’ll be visiting several small cities which are perhaps overshadowed by their more famous neighbour. We’ll visit several amazing ‘houses’ such as the 14th century Estense Castle with its moat, drawbridges, marble balconies and sumptuous apartments, and the Schifanoia Palace with its fabulous 15th century frescoes and sculpted cathedral facade.
The cruise ends aptly in the city of Mantua. The small city has played a huge role in the history of opera, and is famously the city Romeo was banished to in Romeo and Juliet. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ducal Palace housing some 15 gardens and courtyards, a museum, basilica and theatre. The intricate frescoes, Gallery of Mirrors, exquisite Rivers Room and 12,000 paintings and sculptures all create a Grand Finale to your Italian Renaissance adventure.
> READ MORE ABOUT CANAL BARGING HERE
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