Italian River Cruises

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

Undoubtedly, Italy may be one of the most beautiful locations in the world that can host a river cruise. Its breathtaking landscape, along with its enchanting rivers and canals means that the country was almost tailor-made for these cruises. When thinking about Italian cruises, it is impossible to forget the world-famous Venice and the wider Veneto region.

The majestic waterways we journey along on our Italy cruises were once trade routes used by the Romans and the settlers before them. The journey between Venice and the lakeside city of Mantua is a truly magical experience and will allow an insight into the history and cultures that the waters La Bella Vita cruises on represent, like Renaissance, Roman, Etruscan and Byzantine eras.

Aboard La Bella Vita, our Italian cruise, we will visit some of the 177 glorious canals and historic locations that Venice is famous for, such as the Rialto bridge, St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace. You can also jump aboard a gondola – an icon of Venice, for a short tour around the waters. Following on from Venice, the charming rivers and waterways will lead to the final destination of Mantua, one of the true gems of northern Italy.

Luxury Hotel Barge Cruises Around Italy

  • Stunning and diverse landscapes, breathtakingly colourful Venetian lagoons and incredible nature to sightsee.
  • Cruise Italy in luxury and style aboard the 20-passenger La Bella Vita.
  • Embrace the history and culture of the very waters that you are cruising.
  • You will be chauffeured by air-conditioned minibus to the barge upon arrival, throughout the cruise, and to the drop-off point when you disembark on the departure date.

Hotel barge La Bella Vita is a stylish and modern 20-passenger vessel with a typical Italian interior. The stunning vibrant colour accents throughout the boat help to create a serene atmosphere so that you can take in the incredible scenery in divine comfort.

There is a fully stocked bar at all times to allow you to enjoy a cold glass of prosecco in the Mediterranean sun. There is also a stunning spacious dining room with traditional louvre doors that open to give an awe-inspiring and uninterrupted view as you are served the finest Italian cuisine.

The vessel features two upper deck junior suites and eight lower deck staterooms, all air-conditioned with stunning en-suite bathrooms.

Historic & Cultural Highlights of Your Italian Cruise

Luxury hotel barge La Bella Vita navigates the majestic waterways of the historic city of Venice and the mediaeval city of Mantua. Along the voyage, we will stop along the route to visit the region’s most beautiful and historic locations. One of the most popular stops on our cruises around Italy is the coastal town of Chioggia. The town is a stunning hidden gem, south of the popular Venice. It is commonly referred to as ‘The Venice without tourists’ letting you enjoy the stunning canals in a much more peaceful location.

Along the way, we stop at the stunning renaissance city of Ferrara. Here you will get the opportunity to take in the exterior of the magical moated Estense Castle, as well as the Schifanoia Palace. The palace is renowned for its stunning fifteenth-century frescoes and the magnificent cathedral with its facade of the magnificent cathedral with its stunning facade of magnificent sculptured images.

On our cruises from Italy you will choose to embark or disembark at the city of Mantua, situated on the Canal Bianco which runs alongside the Po River. It is much further than most of the larger riverboats can go. As you join the breathtaking Canal Bianco you will be met by the stunning countryside and neo-classical architecture which includes the world heritage site of Ducal Palace and its many courtyards and gardens.

Another popular stop on our Italy cruise is the seventeenth-century Villa Ca’Zen. It is located in the vast Delta Nature Reserve, Italy’s largest natural park. Its long and illustrious history is inextricably linked to Lord Byron, one of Britain’s greatest poets.

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    Our Hotel Barge in Italy

    First Class 20 Passengers 6-10 Crew Cruise Rates
    La Bella Vita

    La Bella Vita is a first-class, 20 passenger river cruiser that cruises the Venetian Lagoon and Po Valley in Northern Italy between Venice and Mantua from March to October

    Opera Cruises

    For 2024, an Opera Cruise is available in July, and is subject to ticket availability. This includes premium seat tickets at the magnificent Roman amphitheatre – the Arena di Verona. The following departure is currently open for cabin bookings:

    • 7th July 2024 – Aida

    *Supplement Applies on all Opera Cruises

    Arena di Verona - River Cruises in Italy

    Solo Traveller Cruise

    Our exclusive “Solo Cruises” aboard the stylish 20-passenger La Bella Vita cruise between Venice to the Renaissance city of Mantua. This six-night, all-inclusive Italian river cruise enjoys the very best of our classic cruise, with some additional ‘extra surprises’ along the way, that have been hand-picked exclusively for Solo Travellers. To find out more, speak to our Cruise Team.

    Why Choose European Waterways for Cruises to Italy?

    • European Waterways offers a cruising experience that’s miles apart from the traditional large cruise lines. Go off the beaten track and experience the delights of this country at your own pace on an Italy river cruise.
    • The captivating waterways of the Veneto Region and the Po Valley offer a rare and truly unique cruising experience. You’ll view sights and visit regions unreachable by traditional Italy cruises.
    • Throughout the voyage you will experience centuries of culture, history and nature intertwined to make a truly unforgettable experience.
    • Two pickup points available for our standard Italian cruises. These are the popular city of Venice and lesser-known but equally magical Mantua.
    • We’ve been guiding guests on river cruises around Europe for decades. We know exactly what it takes to make a cruise through Italy
    • Our luxury hotel barges have a plethora of amenities to make your stay comfortable. La Bella Vita is air-conditioned and heated. You’ll find access to a music system and WiFi. You can take our on-board bicycles out with you on any excursion, and so much more.
    • Our Italy cruise tours are excellent value with an open bar, all meals, guided tours, admissions to landmarks, and transfers included.

    Additional Information

    If you charter the whole vessel then we can arrange a wide selection of themed cruises of Italy for you to embark on. If travelling on the Classic Cruise itinerary, you will have additional stops that will help you to experience some of the amazing things that this beautiful country has to offer.

    On our Golf Cruise you will play at 4 of the region’s and country’s most exclusive courses such as Verona Golf Club, Frassanelle Golf Club, Golf Club Albarella, and Circolo Golf Venezia. You will have the ability to choose your own tee times so that you can experience the tremendous golf that Italy has to offer as well as enjoy a relaxing holiday on board your luxury river cruise around Italy.

    During the course of our once in a lifetime Opera Cruise, you will visit some of the most gorgeous baroque theatres in the region such as Gran Teatro La Fenice where the likes of Rossini and Verdi performed. You will also visit the Teatro Bibiena in Mantua which was opened back in 1770 by a 13-year-old Mozart.

    We also offer a relaxed Gardens Tour Cruise where you will see numerous spectacular gardens that you can explore and admire throughout your cruise in Italy. You will be taken to the breathtaking 16th-century botanical gardens of Padua, the famous Giardino di Valsanzibio, the ancient Parco Giardino Sigurta and any other gardens in the region that you may want to visit. All of these magical gardens are steeped in history and have so many beautiful features that give them their own character and charm.

    Much like its stunning scenery, Italy is also renowned for its phenomenal produce. You will experience the local Venetian cuisine on your cruise from Italy, which varies significantly from the traditional recipes from northern Italy. Being a mountain region, Venetian dishes typically use pork, beef and chicken and are often served with polenta. However, as we journey closer to the coast, seafood is the cuisine of choice.

    On board La Bella Vita we have our own master chef who, over the course of the cruise will prepare a series of regional and national dishes that are sure to satisfy even the most critical of pallets. Gourmet meals that you can expect on your cruise to Italy include Fegato Alla Veneziana, La Polenta, and freshly-caught lagoon seafood. Each breathtaking creation is paired with a hand-selected Italian wine such as Chianti Classico Castello d’Albola, Rose Blanc Brut Sanfeletto and Rosso d Montepulciano la Bracesca.

    A four-course meal is never complete without a mouth-watering selection of Italian cheeses from all different regions such as Parma, Florence, Bologna, Chioggia, Ferrara, Torcello and many more. Mozzarella d Bufala, Pecorino, Grana Padano, Provolone and Bagos are among our favourite cuts. Italian cruises are supposed to be filled with divine dining opportunities and as you will soon see, fine dining is a true experience of its own aboard hotel barge La Bella Vita.

    Our standard Italy cruises dock at some of northern Italy’s most intriguing inland ports. Ports may vary slightly on our themed cruises through Italy.

    • Venice – The jump-off point for our Italy cruise, meander through this city of romance, visit famous historical sights, cruise crystal clear lagoons, and take an unforgettable trip to Murano Island.
    • Pellestrina – As you cruise from Venice to the island of Pellestrina you pass by picturesque scenes of tiny churches, ancient monasteries, and painted fishing boats.
    • Chioggia – Visit this city of huge cultural significance, the home of Godoni. Take in the stunning churches and explore the bustling fish market.
    • Taglio di Po – This province just south of Venice is a must-see on cruises to Italy. Enjoy a private dinner in a 17th century villa where Lord Byron wrote his poems.
    • Adria – Ancient history buffs will be enamoured with this Etruscan town. Pay a visit to the fascinating Archaeological Museum at Adria during your cruise to Italy.
    • Trevenzuolo – Journey from Trevenzuolo to Mantua past the farmsteads of Vallazza to experience authentic Italian life.
    • Mantua – Another possible starting point for a cruise around Italy, Mantua is a renaissance dream. There are thousands of paintings and sculptures to discover across the region along with neo-classical and baroque architecture.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do cruises go into Venice?

    Yes, some cruises to Italy do go to Venice. However, in 2023, the city banned cruise liners over 25,000 GRT from entering the port. This means many big cruise ships have to stop in ports some distance from the city. La Bella Vita is well within the range to dock directly in Venice, however, so you can hop on and off the ship as you please.

    What is the best time to cruise Italy?

    The best time to cruise Italy is between spring to autumn. During this time, visitors can make the most of the beautiful Italian weather, with the sun shining and the days bright. Having said this, many people are now opting to cruise Italy during the spring and autumn months – commonly referred to as the ‘shoulder seasons’ – and avoiding summer all together it  can get extremely busy. Therefore, choosing the shoulder seasons allows you to avoid large crowds and make the most of your Italian cruise.

    What is the most scenic route in Italy?

    There are many scenic routes in this stunning country. We chose the Venetian canals and Po Valley, however, as this journey features many picturesque towns and villages in which you can stop and explore on cruises of Italy such as the historic Adria, Ferrara, and Mantua.

    How much is an Italian river cruise?

    A river cruise from Italy may initially seem expensive. However, you must consider the fact that many river cruises are all-inclusive. European Waterways’ cruises, for example, include an open bar, meals, transfers, and more.

    For more information on our luxury cruises from Italy, contact our friendly team or request a brochure you can peruse at your leisure.

    Which Italian ports do cruise ships often stop at?

    Cruise ships will stop at several ports during your Italian cruise. Below are some of the most popular moorings during a cruise around Italy:

    • Venice
    • Mantua
    • Civitavecchia (in Rome)
    • Livorno (in Florence)
    • Genoa (in Liguria)

    Where do cruises to Italy depart from?

    Italian cruises can depart from several destinations. Cruise ships are famously known to leave from Venice, Rome or Genoa. Contact us to find out more information about our Italian cruises today.


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