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Luxury Hotel Barge Cruises With European Waterways

The Hotel Barging Experience

A gentle cruise on a hotel barge is the perfect way to discover the very soul of Europe, exploring its wonderful countryside and historical treasures and meeting its many friendly, diverse people.

Far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life, hotel barge voyages allow you to travel in luxury without the strains of packing and unpacking, whilst enjoying a balanced blend of daily excursions and fascinating cruising.

Our meeting point is a designated hotel at an easily accessible town or city where you will be greeted by a member of the crew and transported by private chauffeured minibus to your luxury hotel barge. Following a champagne welcome and the opportunity to meet the English-speaking crew and your fellow passengers, we will show you to your beautiful stateroom or suite, with its full en-suite facilities and elegant, traditional fittings.

We sometimes embark on a short cruise on the first evening, and immediately the fascinating, vivacious scenery of Europe’s lesser known waterways begins to unfold before you. Then, perhaps after an aperitif, it’s time to savour a sumptuous, gourmet meal, complimented by fine wines and sparkling conversation.

Venice, the Islands of the Venetian Lagoon, the Canal Bianco and the Po Valley to Mantua

When it comes to river cruises, Italy is a country seemingly designed to host them. Its beautiful canals and rivers pass through diverse landscapes and nature en route, from picturesque lagoon islands with their colourful houses, to wild beach dunes and pine woods with an abundance of birdlife.
These waterways were once the ancient trade routes used by the Romans and the early Mediterranean settlers before them, and cruises around Italy are perfect for gaining a real insight into the many cultures – including Roman, Etruscan, Istrian, Byzantine and of course Renaissance – which have influenced the arts, architecture and history of the region over many centuries.

Luxury Hotel Barge La Bella Vita

Italian River Cruises La Bella Vita

A cruise aboard La Bella Vita on the Venetian Lagoon, River Po and Canal Bianco between Venice and the lakeside Renaissance city of Mantua is a truly magical experience, relax and watch the world drift by.

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Hotel Barge La Bella Vita

Italian-River-Cruises

A cruise aboard La Bella Vita on the Venetian Lagoon, River Po and Canal Bianco between Venice and the lakeside Renaissance city of Mantua is a truly magical experience. There is the opportunity to enjoy diverse landscapes and nature en route, from colourful lagoon islands to wild beach dunes and pine woods full of birdlife. The itinerary includes fascinating guided tours of Ferrara, Mantua and Chioggia which give a real insight into the many cultures – Renaissance, Roman, Etruscan, Byzantine – that have influenced this region of Italy for centuries.

La Bella Vita is a stylish 20 passenger vessel with a typically modern Italian interior, reflected in the use of vibrant colours throughout to create an atmosphere of casual relaxation. There is an inviting bar area in which to enjoy a glass of Prosecco and a spacious dining room with louvre doors that open to give a perfect view as you are served delicious Italian specialities and wines.

She has two upper deck junior suites and eight lower deck staterooms, all air-conditioned and with en-suite facilities, while above there is a huge sun deck with a large canopy and comfortable loungers to relax on and watch the world drift by.

Deck Plan

Classic Cruise Italy Venice - Manuta
Italian-River-Cruises-route

Throughout the season the 20 passenger La Bella Vita provides Italian river cruises that encompass the romance and architecture of Venice as well as the captivating lakeside setting of the Renaissance city of Mantua

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Classic Cruise – Italy

Italian River Cruises

ITINERARY*

Sunday, Day 1 Venice

Guests are met at the Hotel Laguna Palace in Mestre or Piazzale Roma in Venice** and transferred by private chauffeured minibus to La Bella Vita for a Prosecco welcome. An afternoon cruise takes us along the Giudecca Canal past some of Venice’s most famous monuments: the Chiesa del Redentore, the impressive Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Punta della Dogana to our mooring outside the Naval Museum. Then time for a stroll to St Mark’s Square and a guided tour of the Doge’s Palace before dinner on board.

Monday, Day 2 Venice to San Pietro in Volta

Guided walking tour to Castello District, perhaps discovering some hidden parts of the city of Venice: the gardens of the Biennale Exhibition of Modern Arts, Palladio’s Church of San Pietro in Castello and the Venetian Ships Pavilion, an annex of the Naval History Museum Venice, housing vessels of historical importance including ceremonial barges and warships. Late afternoon cruise to Pellestrina which separates the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea, along the Canal of the Orphans passing lagoon islands with their ancient monasteries, painted fishing boats and tiny churches. Time perhaps for a walk or cycle ride along the 18th century Istrian sea wall. Dinner on board.

Tuesday, Day 3 San Pietro in Volta to Taglio di Po

After breakfast, we cruise to Chioggia, city of Goldoni’s plays. Here we visit the 18th century Church of San Domenico set on its own island, to see Carpaccio’s St Paul, his last recorded painting and other works of art by Tintoretto and Bassano. We also admire the Piazzetta Vigo and visit the colourful fish market. There will also be the opportunity to enjoy a short tour of Chioggia’s pretty canals in a traditional locally-built boat, before re-joining La Bella Vita. Passing through a nature reserve with flamingos and occasional heron, snipe and other wildfowl, we travel upriver to Taglio di Po for dinner ashore hosted by the owners at the beautiful 17thC Villa Ca’Zen, a private stately home by the river where Lord Byron courted the Countess Giuccioli and wrote some of his best poetry.

Wednesday, Day 4 Taglio di Po to Zelo

This morning we join the Bianco canal and cruise to Adria, an ancient Etruscan town where we visit the Archaeological Museum. After lunch on board, we drive to the Bagnoli Estate to tour the Renaissance gardens and wine cellars of the 17thC Villa Widmann Borletti to enjoy a private tasting of their renowned estate-grown vintages. This winery has been supplying Venetian society for centuries. Afterwards, we rejoin La Bella Vita moored at Zelo. Dinner on board.

Thursday, Day 5 Zelo to Governolo

Morning excursion with a guided tour of the Renaissance city of Ferrara, including the Schifanoia Palace, renowned for its fabulous 15thC frescoes. We also admire the exterior of the Estense Castle and its moat and visit the magnificent cathedral with its façade of sculpted images described as an illustrated Bible. Return to the hotel barge moored in Trevenzuolo for an afternoon canal cruise past villages and farmsteads to Governolo and dinner on board.

Friday, Day 6 Governolo to Mantua

Our final cruise has a dramatic approach to Mantua, home of the poet Virgil, artists Mantegna and Donatello and a captivating lakeside setting. Mantua displays extraordinary neo-classical and baroque architecture, portrayed in the 14thC Ducal Palace housing some 15 gardens and courtyards, a museum, basilica and theatre. The intricate frescoes, Gallery of Mirrors and exquisite Rivers Room and 12,000 paintings and sculptures all create a Grand Finale to our Italian Renaissance adventure. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.

Saturday, Day 7 Mantua

After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to the Hotel Laguna Palace in Mestre or Piazzale Roma in Venice.

* This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

On alternate weeks the cruise will be in the reverse direction.

Some cruises may be on the River Po, depending on the water level.

** Alternative locations possible for Private Charter bookings

Opera Cruises

For the opera lovers amongst you, taking one of our special Opera Cruises aboard La Bella Vita in Italy is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience.

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Opera Cruise – Italy

Italian-River-Cruises

Contact us for the 2019 Opera Cruise Itinerary

ITINERARY*

Saturday, 25 August 2018. Venice, Verona

Guests are met at the meeting point in Mestre or Venice on Saturday afternoon and transferred to the Hotel due Torri in Verona. Early evening, we drive to Verona for a visit to the fascinating Arena Muse Opera, a wonderful museum in the magnificent setting of Palazzo Forti and devoted to the history of opera. There, we also have dinner in the delightful courtyard restaurant, before making our way to the nearby Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheatre built in 30 A.D., where we watch a performance of Bizet’s “Carmen” from the top-priced front stalls seats. At the end of a memorable evening, we drive back to the hotel.

Sunday, 26 August 2018. Verona, Venice

After breakfast in the hotel, we enjoy a guided tour of Verona, before driving to Venice to board La Bella Vita for a Prosecco Welcome. After lunch, an afternoon cruise takes us along the Giudecca Canal past some of Venice’s most famous monuments: the Chiesa del Redentore, the impressive Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Punta della Dogana to our mooring outside the Naval Museum. There is time for a stroll to St Mark’s Square and a brief tour of the Doge’s Palace before dinner on board.

Monday, 27 August 2018. Venice to San Pietro in Volta
This morning, a guided tour of the magnificent opera house, the Gran Teatro La Fenice, where the premières of operas by composers such as Rossini and Verdi were performed. It was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1996, but after a complete refurbishment of its spectacular interior, the opera house re-opened in 2004. After lunch back on board, we cruise to Pellestrina which separates the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea, along the Canal of the Orphans, passing lagoon islands with their ancient monasteries, painted fishing boats and tiny churches. Enjoy a walk at sunset before dinner on board.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018. San Pietro in Volta to Taglio di Po

After a stroll or cycle along the 18th century Istrian sea wall in Pellestrina, we cruise to Chioggia, city of Goldoni’s plays. Here we visit the picturesque town centre and colourful fish market. We also see the Cathedral and the Piazzetta Vigo before cruising on to the River Po delta. Passing through a nature reserve with flamingos and occasional heron, snipe and other wildfowl, we travel upriver to Taglio di Po for dinner ashore hosted by the owners at the beautiful 17th century Villa Ca’Zen, a private stately home by the river where Lord Byron courted the Countess Giuccioli and wrote some of his best poetry.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018. Taglio di Po to Zelo
This morning we cruise to Adria, an ancient Etruscan town and visit the Archaeological Museum. After lunch on board, we drive to the Bagnoli Estate where we tour the Renaissance gardens and wine cellars of the 17th century Villa Widmann Borletti, for a private tasting of their renowned estate grown vintages. This winery has been supplying Venetian society for centuries. Afterwards, we rejoin La Bella Vita moored at Zelo. Dinner on board.

Thursday, 30 August 2018. Zelo to Governolo

Morning excursion with a guided tour of the Renaissance city of Ferrara. Here, we tour the Teatro Communale, built in the late 18th century and boasting a majestic 5-tiered auditorium. We also visit the ‘Camerino delle Duchesse’, a truly delightful private room in the Ducal Palace decorated in the 16th century for Eleonora and Lucrezia d’Este. We see the 14th century Estense Castle with its moat, drawbridges and marble balconies, the fabulous 15th century frescoes in the Schifanoia Palace and the cathedral façade with its sculpted images described as an illustrated Bible. Return to the hotel barge for an afternoon cruise past villages and farmsteads to Governolo and dinner on board.

Friday, 31 August 2018. Governolo to Mantua

Our final cruise has a dramatic approach to Mantua, a Renaissance city with a captivating lakeside setting and home to Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Mantua displays extraordinary neo-classical and baroque architecture, portrayed in the 14th century Ducal Palace housing some 15 gardens and courtyards, a museum, basilica, intricate frescoes, the Gallery of Mirrors and the exquisite Rivers Room. We explore the city further, finding “Rigoletto’s House” near the cathedral, then finally, we visit the intimate Teatro Bibiena, a delightful baroque theatre with a bell-shaped interior that opened with a concert by a 13-year-old Mozart in 1770. A wonderful finale to our Italian opera adventure. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.

Saturday 1 September 2018. Mantua, Venice

After breakfast, disembark La Bella Vita and transfer to your drop-off point in Mestre or Venice.

This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

Wine Appreciation Cruise

Stay overnight in Venice and then take join La Bella Vita for a cruise to Manuta whilst enjoying the very best the region has to offer

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Wine Appreciation Cruise – Italy

Italian-River-Cruises

ITINERARY*

Sunday, Day 1 Venice

Guests are met at the Hotel Laguna Palace in Mestre or Piazzale Roma in Venice** and transferred to La Bella Vita where a Prosecco Welcome awaits you. Late afternoon cruise along the Giudecca Canal to our mooring outside the Naval Museum. Dinner will be served on board with a selection of wines, followed by an evening stroll to St Mark’s Square where you enjoy a glass of wine at the ‘I Corrazzieri’ bacaro.

Monday, Day 2 Venice to San Pietro in Volta

We cruise to the island of Murano, famous for its glass, and then on a private boat to the island of Sant’Erasmo for our tasting at the superb Wine Estate of Orto. We return to La Bella Vita for lunch then a late afternoon cruise to Pellestrina along the Canal of the Orphans, past interesting islands such as San Giorgio Maggiore with its church by Palladio, San Clemente, Santo Spirito and Poveglia with their brightly coloured houses and painted fishing boats before leaving the Lido en route to Pellestrina where we moor in San Pietro in Volta. Here there is the opportunity to stroll or cycle along the 18th century Istrian sea wall, with the Adriatic on one side and the lagoon on the other. Enjoy an aperitif at a local ‘bacaroi’ before dinner on board.

Tuesday, Day 3 San Pietro in Volta to Taglio Di Po

This morning we cruise to the Venetian city of Chioggia, one of the most important fish markets in Italy. The fishing harbour is home to the majority of Italy’s fishing fleets and the vast wholesale fish market serves both local and international markets. The lively, colourful market building houses around 30 fish stalls with fishmongers selling the locally caught catches, of sea cicadas (a delicious crustacean), sole, sea-bass, black sea bass, scallops, anchovies and sardines, which are believed to be particularly healthy due to the local shallow waters. Fish from all over the world is also sold here on a wholesale basis with frozen, conserved and smoked as well as fresh fish being available. Our chef will walk us round the market and make his choice for lunch. This afternoon we cruise slowly along the canal through a nature reserve where we should see colourful flamingos and other wildlife. Dinner this evening will be ashore in the beautiful 17th century Villa Ca’Zen in Taglio di Po. We will be kindly hosted by the owners of this private stately home where Lord Byron courted Countess Giuccioli and wrote some of his best poetry.

Wednesday, Day 4 Taglio Di Po to Zelo

Morning cruise, leaving the river and entering the Canal Bianco, to Adria. After lunch, we visit the beautiful Renaissance gardens of the 17th century Villa Widmann Borletti. The villa was the project of the famous architect Baldassare Longhena (1598-1682). The monumental complex is one of the most significant in the Veneto for size and beauty. The villa is also a wine-estate, whose wines we will of course taste. Dinner on board at Zelo.

Thursday, Day 5 Zelo to Governolo

Morning excursion with guided tour of the Renaissance city of Ferrara, including the14thC Estense Castle with its moat, drawbridges, marble balconies and sumptuous apartments, and the Schifanoia Palace with its fabulous 15thC frescoes. We also see the cathedral façade with its sculpted images described as an Illustrated Bible. Return to the barge for an afternoon cruise past villages and farmsteads to Governolo. Dinner tonight includes a tasting of Serego Alighieri wines.

Friday, Day 6 Governolo to Mantua

This morning we depart for the beautiful medieval town of Soave, famous for its crisp, dry wines. What this tasting will show is that the Garganega grape, often with some help from a bit of Chardonnay or some new French oak, can make profound white wines packed full of flavour and interest. We then rejoin La Bella Vita in time for lunch and navigation to Mantua. This afternoon a guided tour and a chance to explore Mantua city centre. Those opera lovers amongst you will of course be familiar with the story of the Duke of Mantua from Rigoletto. The Palazzi, fine architecture and squares reflect the wealth of the Dukes of Gonzaga. The architecture of the city neo-classical and baroque architecture is splendidly portrayed in the 14th century Ducal Palace, set in 15 gardens and courtyards, a museum, basilica and theatre. The palace has intricate frescoes, a Gallery of Mirrors and an exquisite Rivers Room and houses an impressive 12,000 paintings and sculptures. The town is also famous as the birthplace of Virgil, and of the artists Mantegna and Donatello. We will enjoy more wonderful food and wines this evening at the “Captain’s Farewell Dinner”.

Saturday, Day 7 Mantua

After breakfast, guests disembark and are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to the Hotel Laguna Palace in Mestre or Piazzale Roma in Venice**.

This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

On alternate weeks the cruise will be in the reverse direction.

**Alternative locations possible for Private Charter bookings

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Combine a cruise with a journey on the world famous Venice-Simplon-Orient Express, London to Venice or Venice to London

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