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-Cruises in Italy on Barge La Bella Vita-

Cruise Details:

  • Up to 20 guests
  • 140 Ft. Long
  • Rating: First Class
  • Charter & Cabin bookings
  • English Speaking Crew of 5-8
  • 10 Bicycles
  • Air Conditioned
  • Last Visited 2015

Cruise Rate Includes:

6 nights/7 days in a cabin with a private bath, chauffeured transfers from Venice to the barge & return, all meals, from dinner the first night to breakfast the last morning, all wines with lunch & dinner, open bar, daily escorted excursions and use of onboard bicycles.

Cruise Rate Does NOT Include

Airfare to and from Italy, cancellation insurance and crew gratuity (suggested minimum amount is 5% of the cruise price)


Cruises in Italy on Barge La Bella Vita

Ellen and Nick Sack (Ellen’s husband, AKA Monsieur Le Barge Lady) had a wonderful time in Italy in fall, 2015: First in Venice and then on the barge La Bella Vita, floating from Venice to Mantua on the River Po. Here is Ellen’s report:

Barge Lady Ellen at venice hotel baglioni before La Bella vita cruise italy “Our adventure began in Venice at the fabulous Luna Hotel Baglioni, a traditional property perfectly located between Piazza St. Marco and the Grand Canal. Here I am at the front entrance, which one reaches via water taxi from the Grand Canal. Go out the back door, and you are at the Piazza in three minutes, walking through atmospheric alleyways lined with boutiques, restaurants and Italian ice cream shops. In this absolutely central location, we could easily walk to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Museum or take the vaparetto to the grounds of the Venice Biennale.

On Sunday, we boarded La Bella Vita and found ourselves aboard a vessel which carries twenty guests in great comfort. La Bella Vita is “homey” as opposed to “fancy,” but the cabins and public areas are welcoming, as is the entire vibe aboard this ship. La Bella Vita was entirely retrofitted in 2010 to provide 2 upper deck suites and 8 staterooms, a spacious salon with bar area ( The bar is made of collaged photos of crew and guests - adorable) and dining room complete with refrigerator for beers, soft drinks and water - as well as a piano! That piano would be used later in the week to provide one of the most glorious evenings I’ve enjoyed on the European waterways.

The all-Italian crew, led by Captain Rudi, Cruise Director Laura, and Chef Andrea, expressed genuine warmth as well as providing very detail-oriented service. Both the presence of the crew and the comfortable public areas lent themselves to socializing with our fellow passengers, a congenial group from the United States, Great Britain and South Africa. Each night, a special mixed drink was offered at the bar which, along with hot appetizers, assured a very spirited cocktail hour! We also enjoyed cruising on the spacious deck, where, again, the crew was tireless in bringing us drinks and snacks. We felt very well taken care of!

On board cuisine was delicious and abundant. Chef Andrea Chin is only in his thirties, but brings a lifelong interest in cuisine first introduced by his grandfather. He served an array of local specialties: pastas, cheeses, fish, and desserts. Two buffet lunches were offered, with a wonderful selection. I was delighted to buy his cookbook, which brings back great memories – although, not of course, to even attempt any of these dishes at home! As is usual on our European barges, the wines were introduced at lunch and dinner – however, something I had never seen before was the use of a large map of the Italian wine areas.

The cruise began with an overnight and then one full day moored in Venice. On Sunday night we were taken for a tour of the Doges Palace, an incredible building which both housed the government of the ruling dukes of Venice and showcased the wealth and grandeur of the Venetian Republic. As was usual for the most important sights, while we were always accompanied by crew, a really excellent outside guide gave the tour. The following day, our delightful Cruise Director Laura took us on a walking tour of the Castello district (where ‘real’ Venetians live) and a visit to the Naval Museum, where vessels on display ranged from antique gondolas to World War I submarines. After lunch, many guests went on an optional two hour tour of the glass-producing island of Murano, so that, by the time of our late afternoon departure, a very complete program in and around Venice had been offered.

On Monday night, we began our cruise which took La Bella Vita through the islands of the Veneto and onto the River Po, a journey which took us to fishing villages, elegant Renaissance towns, and into private homes and vineyards. By the time we finished on Saturday, we had completed a memorable immersion into Italian history, lifestyle, and beauty. The glories of Italian opera provide a perfect extension of these themes. At “Opera Evening”, soprano Federica and tenor Gianluca ( assisted by Rudi and Laura in hilarious cameo roles) presented arias by Rossini, Puccini ,and Verdi, these glorious melodies ringing throughout La Bella Vita and providing a perfect memory of Italy by water."


Floor Plan:

Barge Cruise
2017 Value Season Rates

Whole-Boat Charter for 12: $63,800
Whole-Boat Charter for 14: $65,900
Whole-Boat Charter for 16: $68,000
Whole-Boat Charter for 18: $70,100
Whole-Boat Charter for 20: $72,200
Individuals in a Stateroom: $3,890 per person double occupancy
Individuals in a Junior Suite: $4,650 per person double occupancy
Single Supplement: $1,450

2017 Value Season dates
April 2 - 8 July 23 - 29 August 13 - 19 October 15 - 21
April 9 - 15 July 30 - August 5 August 20 - 26 October 22 - 28
April 16 - 22 August 6 - 12

 

2017 regular Season rates

Whole-Boat Charter for 12: $70,500
Whole-Boat Charter for 14: $73,000
Whole-Boat Charter for 16: $75,500
Whole-Boat Charter for 18: $78,100
Whole-Boat Charter for 20: $80,500
Individuals in a Stateroom: $4,290 per person double occupancy
Individuals in a Junior Suite: $5,150 per person double occupancy
Single Supplement: $1,700

2017 regular Season dates
April 23 - 29 May 28 - June 3 July 2 - 8 September 10 - 16
April 30 - May 6 June 4 - 10 July 9 - 15 September 17 - 23
May 7 - 13 June 11 - 17 July 16 - 22 September 24 - 30
May 14 - 20 June 18 - 24 August 27 - September 2 October 1 - 7
May 21 - 26 June 25 - July 1 September 3 - 9 October 8 - 14
Barge Cruise

La Bella Vita Accommodations and Amenities

  • 140 Feet Long
  • 3 decks
  • Ten cabins with ensuite shower bathroom
  • Two 125 sq ft Junior Suites
    Upper Deck Cabins 1 and 2
  • Eight 105 sq ft Staterooms
    Cabins 3 through 10
  • Individual cabin control for AC and heat
  • Hair dryers
  • In the Public Areas
  • Window lined salon, dining room
  • Fully stocked bar and
    wine refridgerator
  • PC with internet
  • Wifi (subject to local reception)
  • On Deck
  • Large upper sun deck with lounge chairs
  • 10 touring bicycles











italy barge la bella vita bar
Italy hotel barge la bella vita deck

La Bella Vita Italy Cruise Itinerary

Venice to Mantua on River Po and the Bianco Canal through the Po Valley

Barge Lady Ellen's Cruise in October, 2015

Sunday: Board in Venice
Welcome Aboard and Doges Palace Tour
We were met in early afternoon at the Laguna Palace Hotel in Mestre and transferred to La Bella Vita, moored a few minutes’ drive away. After being shown to our cabins, we and our fellow guests reassembled in the salon and enjoyed a welcome reception of Proseco and hors d’oeuvre, as well as introduction of the all Italian crew led by Captain Rudy Toninato. We were always made to feel warmly welcomed by our crew. A late afternoon cruise along the Giudecca Canal past some of Venice’s most famous monuments took La Bella Vita to its mooring in central Venice. We then walked to St. Marks Square for one of the highlights of the week, a really excellent tour of the Doges Palace. La Bella Vita has the right policy of hiring top local guides to introduce the major sights. At dinner on board, we got to know our congenial and international group of fellow guests, who hailed from the United States, Great Britain and South Africa.

Monday: Venice to San Pietro in Volta
Spend the Day in and Around Venice - Then Set Sail!
Laura Mattietto, our adorable Cruise Director, kept us very busy on this almost full day still moored in Venice. We started our walking tour at the fascinating Naval Museum, which displays a full array of watercraft ranging from antique gondolas to World War I submarines. We then walked in the nearby Castello District, where ordinary Venetians live and work. Laura kept us informed and entertained, even introducing words from the regional dialect which she spoke fluently, as well as standard Italian. After a lunch buffet (which featured fabulous quiche and tiramisu) many guests went on an optional tour to the island of Murano to see the glass factories. With everyone back on board in late afternoon, La Bella Vita set sail on the Venetian lagoon for the quiet island of Alberoni, used by Venetians as a relaxing beachside getaway. Before dinner, Laura took us on a walk through the village, after which we enjoyed cocktails and dinner on board. Cocktail hour is very special on La Bella Vita. Every night, a different specialty drink is offered at the bar, as well as delicious hot hors d’oeuvres.

Tuesday: San Pietro in Volta to Taglio Di Po
Welcomed by the Owners of a  Private Villa
A short morning cruise took La Bella Vita to the island of Chioggia, pictured above, where we visited the colorful village with a fish market and shops. The second cruise of the day took La Bella Vita onto the River Po. Passing through a nature reserve with flamingos and occasional heron, snipe and other wildfowl, we traveled upriver to Taglio di Po. Here we were but a five minute drive to our dinner ashore hosted at the beautiful 17th century Villa Ca’Zen, pictured below. The owners, an elegant Irish-born lady and her adult daughter, welcomed us warmly into private rooms adorned with antiques and family photographs.

Wednesday: Taglio Di Po to Bosaro
Stroll through Renaissance Gardens and Enjoy a Private Wine Tasting
After a full morning cruise brought us to Bossaro, we were driven inland to the incredible Bagnoli Estate, with its elegant Renaissance gardens and statuary. We also toured the 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. Tania, see below left, the personable guide from the Estate, added a lot of fun to this tour. Then it was back to La Bella Vita for cocktails and dinner. Something I had never seen before was the introduction of the lunch and dinner wines using a very large regional map. After dinner came another great highlight, a live performance of Italian opera arias, also including hilarious cameo roles by Rudy and Laura. Our barge rang with glorious music creating an evening I will not soon forget.

Thursday: Bosaro to Trevenzuolo
Fabulous Frescoes in Elegant Ferrara
A morning excursion to the Renaissance town of Ferrara began with a tour of Schifanoia Palace with its 15th century frescoes, explained in detail by our excellent guide, followed by a walk through this elegant town. We were shown the Jewish quarter and learned that Ferrara was the setting for the book and movie, ‘The Garden of the Finzi-Contini,” a story of Italian Jews and their lives before being killed in the Holocaust. We then returned to La Bella Vita for afternoon cruise to Revere, a small and typical town of the region. On an informal tour, we were shown the town museum, which had been proudly restored by the residents, and which included pictures of an Allied assault in World War II - which destroyed the major bridge and much of the town – but which prevented German troops from marching on to Rome. Here I am with Nick Sack, AKA Monsieur Le Barge Lady, posing against a fun mural right at the town entrance.

Friday: Trevenzuolo to Mantua
Spectacular Ducal Palace and Renaissance Grandeur in Mantua
Our final cruise included a dramatic approach to Mantua, pictured below, home of the poet Virgil, artists Mantegna and Donatello and captivating lakeside setting. Mantua displays extraordinary neo-classical and baroque architecture, portrayed in the 14th century Ducal Palace housing some 15 gardens and courtyards, a museum, basilica and theatre. To see the intricate frescoes, Gallery of Mirrors and exquisite Rivers Room and 12,000 paintings and sculptures was a worthy finale to our Italian Renaissance adventure. We then walked back to La Bella Vita, now moored in Mantua, to prepare for the Captain’s Dinner. Like the rest of Chef Andrea Chin’s cuisine, it was delicious, and I was thrilled to be able to purchase his cookbook to take home as a souvenir. The entire crew toasted us as we enjoyed champagne and a decadent chocolate dessert, making us all sad to leave the barge, our crew, and our new friends.

Saturday: Mantua to Venice
A Sad Farewell
At 9:00 am we were chauffeured back to the Laguna Palace in Mestre, from where guests can take a cab to Marco Polo Airport or return to Venice for more time in this delightful city.

Please Note: On alternate weeks the cruise will be in the reverse direction. This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change *The designated meeting and drop off point is in Mestre or Venice. Other options are available for charter groups

La Bella Vita Sample Menus

Barge Lady Ellen enjoyed these meals aboard La Bella Vita on her October 2015 cruise.

Captain's Farewell Dinner
Puff Pastry Pouch with Mushrooms and Truffle Fondue
* * *
Tortelli filled with Taleggio Cheese
* * *
Duck Breast with Balsamic Sauce,
Roasted Potatoes

* * *
Cheeses
Parmaggiano Reggiano with Walnuts and Grapes
* * *
Hot Chocolate Mini Cake with Orange Sauce
* * *
Wines
Bosco di Fratta Magnum
Cabernet Sauvignon
Lambrusco Otello
Recioto Valpolicella

* * * * *

Lunch
Sopressa Salami, Ossocollo and Pepper Cheese
*
Quiche of Mushrooms,  Asiago and Swiss Chard
*
Pork Fillet with Mediterranean Herbs
* * *
Cheese
Biancone
* * *
Tiramisu
* * *
Wines
Lacrima Rosa
* * * * *

Dinner
King Prawn Salad with Valeriana, Tomatoes and Orange
* * *
Carrot and Ginger Soup with Poached King Prawn and Crispy Bread
* * *
Roasted Sea Bass with Yellow Pepper Dressing
* * *
Cheeses
Morlacco & Asmonte
* * *
Cocoa and Almond Tart with Red Fruits
* * *
Wines
Pinot Bianco
Greco di Tufo
Fiordi D'Arancio

* * * * * 

Picture a Barge Cruise in Italy on La Bella Vita

La Bella Vita Guest Book

"Great trip all around! We were lucky we had good weather and we liked and got along with all the guests. Crew was great! Food was very tasty. The Chef offered all different kinds of eggs every morning, and the breakfast buffet had lots of fresh fruit and everything else. Loved the cappuccino on demand! We enjoyed all of the excursions and our cabin was fine as well. All the pre-trip information was good. Love you guys!"

- Lonnie and Albert Willis, cruised May, 2016 (repeat Barge Lady guests)

"Our cabin was first rate -- good storage which is always appreciated. The crew was exemplary, always anticipating our needs. The cuisine was outstanding, and the excursions were well-timed. Everything was clear prior to the cruise. Your pre-trip information was excellent. You have it all covered. My summation is that your cruises are always first rate. Thank you to all of the Barge Ladies."

- Al and Lura Granger, cruised October, 2015 (repeat Barge Lady guests)

"We had a totally wonderful week with a great group of people. Captain Diego was just a pleasure to know, and Hostess Laura, who worked so hard and always smiled, did a fabulous job. She also looked beautiful at the Captain's Dinner. I think all of the crew were from Padua. It must be a special city, because every one of them did an excellent job. Every meal was delicious and a pleasure to look at each plate, and daily sightseeing excursions were very good. We were given clear pre-trip information, and Barge Lady Ellen helped enormously with arrangements to get to the barge and off again."

- Diane Vigilante, cruised September, 2015 (repeat Barge Lady guest)

"The crew was great. All of them were very friendly and went out of their way to assure that we had a wonderful cruise. The cuisine was good, the cheeses were delicious, and the presentation at mealtimes was excellent. A highlight of the itinerary was having dinner with the countess in her 400-year-old home/estate. It was an evening to remember. Our cabin was spotlessly clean, nicely decorated, and in excellent repair. The bath was a nice size for a boat and very clean. Barge Lady services were great -- as always!"

- Charles Sparrer, cruised August, 2015 (repeat Barge Lady guest)

La Bella Vita Blog Posts, Recipes, Articles and Videos

Ask any Barge Lady, and she’ll tell you: when it comes to travel, more is better! Explore below for more of everything we love – videos, articles, blog posts, recipes and MORE!

 

 

New Year, New Cruise: Bienvenuto in Italy aboard La Bella Vita
A fresh destination for Barge Lady travelers awaits… new to the Barge Lady fleet, bienvenuti a bordo Italy’s La Bella Vita!!

 

 

Cruising with The Barge Lady
Our friends over at The International Kitchen share a guest blog post on cruising with The Barge Lady and Italy barge La Bella Vita

+ - Overview

Cruise Details:

  • Up to 20 guests
  • 140 Ft. Long
  • Rating: First Class
  • Charter & Cabin bookings
  • English Speaking Crew of 5-8
  • 10 Bicycles
  • Air Conditioned
  • Last Visited 2015

Cruise Rate Includes:

6 nights/7 days in a cabin with a private bath, chauffeured transfers from Venice to the barge & return, all meals, from dinner the first night to breakfast the last morning, all wines with lunch & dinner, open bar, daily escorted excursions and use of onboard bicycles.

Cruise Rate Does NOT Include

Airfare to and from Italy, cancellation insurance and crew gratuity (suggested minimum amount is 5% of the cruise price)


Cruises in Italy on Barge La Bella Vita

Ellen and Nick Sack (Ellen’s husband, AKA Monsieur Le Barge Lady) had a wonderful time in Italy in fall, 2015: First in Venice and then on the barge La Bella Vita, floating from Venice to Mantua on the River Po. Here is Ellen’s report:

Barge Lady Ellen at venice hotel baglioni before La Bella vita cruise italy “Our adventure began in Venice at the fabulous Luna Hotel Baglioni, a traditional property perfectly located between Piazza St. Marco and the Grand Canal. Here I am at the front entrance, which one reaches via water taxi from the Grand Canal. Go out the back door, and you are at the Piazza in three minutes, walking through atmospheric alleyways lined with boutiques, restaurants and Italian ice cream shops. In this absolutely central location, we could easily walk to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Museum or take the vaparetto to the grounds of the Venice Biennale.

On Sunday, we boarded La Bella Vita and found ourselves aboard a vessel which carries twenty guests in great comfort. La Bella Vita is “homey” as opposed to “fancy,” but the cabins and public areas are welcoming, as is the entire vibe aboard this ship. La Bella Vita was entirely retrofitted in 2010 to provide 2 upper deck suites and 8 staterooms, a spacious salon with bar area ( The bar is made of collaged photos of crew and guests - adorable) and dining room complete with refrigerator for beers, soft drinks and water - as well as a piano! That piano would be used later in the week to provide one of the most glorious evenings I’ve enjoyed on the European waterways.

The all-Italian crew, led by Captain Rudi, Cruise Director Laura, and Chef Andrea, expressed genuine warmth as well as providing very detail-oriented service. Both the presence of the crew and the comfortable public areas lent themselves to socializing with our fellow passengers, a congenial group from the United States, Great Britain and South Africa. Each night, a special mixed drink was offered at the bar which, along with hot appetizers, assured a very spirited cocktail hour! We also enjoyed cruising on the spacious deck, where, again, the crew was tireless in bringing us drinks and snacks. We felt very well taken care of!

On board cuisine was delicious and abundant. Chef Andrea Chin is only in his thirties, but brings a lifelong interest in cuisine first introduced by his grandfather. He served an array of local specialties: pastas, cheeses, fish, and desserts. Two buffet lunches were offered, with a wonderful selection. I was delighted to buy his cookbook, which brings back great memories – although, not of course, to even attempt any of these dishes at home! As is usual on our European barges, the wines were introduced at lunch and dinner – however, something I had never seen before was the use of a large map of the Italian wine areas.

The cruise began with an overnight and then one full day moored in Venice. On Sunday night we were taken for a tour of the Doges Palace, an incredible building which both housed the government of the ruling dukes of Venice and showcased the wealth and grandeur of the Venetian Republic. As was usual for the most important sights, while we were always accompanied by crew, a really excellent outside guide gave the tour. The following day, our delightful Cruise Director Laura took us on a walking tour of the Castello district (where ‘real’ Venetians live) and a visit to the Naval Museum, where vessels on display ranged from antique gondolas to World War I submarines. After lunch, many guests went on an optional two hour tour of the glass-producing island of Murano, so that, by the time of our late afternoon departure, a very complete program in and around Venice had been offered.

On Monday night, we began our cruise which took La Bella Vita through the islands of the Veneto and onto the River Po, a journey which took us to fishing villages, elegant Renaissance towns, and into private homes and vineyards. By the time we finished on Saturday, we had completed a memorable immersion into Italian history, lifestyle, and beauty. The glories of Italian opera provide a perfect extension of these themes. At “Opera Evening”, soprano Federica and tenor Gianluca ( assisted by Rudi and Laura in hilarious cameo roles) presented arias by Rossini, Puccini ,and Verdi, these glorious melodies ringing throughout La Bella Vita and providing a perfect memory of Italy by water."


Floor Plan:

Barge Cruise
2017 Value Season Rates

Whole-Boat Charter for 12: $63,800
Whole-Boat Charter for 14: $65,900
Whole-Boat Charter for 16: $68,000
Whole-Boat Charter for 18: $70,100
Whole-Boat Charter for 20: $72,200
Individuals in a Stateroom: $3,890 per person double occupancy
Individuals in a Junior Suite: $4,650 per person double occupancy
Single Supplement: $1,450

2017 Value Season dates
April 2 - 8 July 23 - 29 August 13 - 19 October 15 - 21
April 9 - 15 July 30 - August 5 August 20 - 26 October 22 - 28
April 16 - 22 August 6 - 12

 

2017 regular Season rates

Whole-Boat Charter for 12: $70,500
Whole-Boat Charter for 14: $73,000
Whole-Boat Charter for 16: $75,500
Whole-Boat Charter for 18: $78,100
Whole-Boat Charter for 20: $80,500
Individuals in a Stateroom: $4,290 per person double occupancy
Individuals in a Junior Suite: $5,150 per person double occupancy
Single Supplement: $1,700

2017 regular Season dates
April 23 - 29 May 28 - June 3 July 2 - 8 September 10 - 16
April 30 - May 6 June 4 - 10 July 9 - 15 September 17 - 23
May 7 - 13 June 11 - 17 July 16 - 22 September 24 - 30
May 14 - 20 June 18 - 24 August 27 - September 2 October 1 - 7
May 21 - 26 June 25 - July 1 September 3 - 9 October 8 - 14

Floor Plan:

Barge Cruise

La Bella Vita Accommodations and Amenities

  • 140 Feet Long
  • 3 decks
  • Ten cabins with ensuite shower bathroom
  • Two 125 sq ft Junior Suites
    Upper Deck Cabins 1 and 2
  • Eight 105 sq ft Staterooms
    Cabins 3 through 10
  • Individual cabin control for AC and heat
  • Hair dryers
  • In the Public Areas
  • Window lined salon, dining room
  • Fully stocked bar and
    wine refridgerator
  • PC with internet
  • Wifi (subject to local reception)
  • On Deck
  • Large upper sun deck with lounge chairs
  • 10 touring bicycles











italy barge la bella vita bar
Italy hotel barge la bella vita deck

La Bella Vita Italy Cruise Itinerary

Venice to Mantua on River Po and the Bianco Canal through the Po Valley

Barge Lady Ellen's Cruise in October, 2015

Sunday: Board in Venice
Welcome Aboard and Doges Palace Tour
We were met in early afternoon at the Laguna Palace Hotel in Mestre and transferred to La Bella Vita, moored a few minutes’ drive away. After being shown to our cabins, we and our fellow guests reassembled in the salon and enjoyed a welcome reception of Proseco and hors d’oeuvre, as well as introduction of the all Italian crew led by Captain Rudy Toninato. We were always made to feel warmly welcomed by our crew. A late afternoon cruise along the Giudecca Canal past some of Venice’s most famous monuments took La Bella Vita to its mooring in central Venice. We then walked to St. Marks Square for one of the highlights of the week, a really excellent tour of the Doges Palace. La Bella Vita has the right policy of hiring top local guides to introduce the major sights. At dinner on board, we got to know our congenial and international group of fellow guests, who hailed from the United States, Great Britain and South Africa.

Monday: Venice to San Pietro in Volta
Spend the Day in and Around Venice - Then Set Sail!
Laura Mattietto, our adorable Cruise Director, kept us very busy on this almost full day still moored in Venice. We started our walking tour at the fascinating Naval Museum, which displays a full array of watercraft ranging from antique gondolas to World War I submarines. We then walked in the nearby Castello District, where ordinary Venetians live and work. Laura kept us informed and entertained, even introducing words from the regional dialect which she spoke fluently, as well as standard Italian. After a lunch buffet (which featured fabulous quiche and tiramisu) many guests went on an optional tour to the island of Murano to see the glass factories. With everyone back on board in late afternoon, La Bella Vita set sail on the Venetian lagoon for the quiet island of Alberoni, used by Venetians as a relaxing beachside getaway. Before dinner, Laura took us on a walk through the village, after which we enjoyed cocktails and dinner on board. Cocktail hour is very special on La Bella Vita. Every night, a different specialty drink is offered at the bar, as well as delicious hot hors d’oeuvres.

Tuesday: San Pietro in Volta to Taglio Di Po
Welcomed by the Owners of a  Private Villa
A short morning cruise took La Bella Vita to the island of Chioggia, pictured above, where we visited the colorful village with a fish market and shops. The second cruise of the day took La Bella Vita onto the River Po. Passing through a nature reserve with flamingos and occasional heron, snipe and other wildfowl, we traveled upriver to Taglio di Po. Here we were but a five minute drive to our dinner ashore hosted at the beautiful 17th century Villa Ca’Zen, pictured below. The owners, an elegant Irish-born lady and her adult daughter, welcomed us warmly into private rooms adorned with antiques and family photographs.

Wednesday: Taglio Di Po to Bosaro
Stroll through Renaissance Gardens and Enjoy a Private Wine Tasting
After a full morning cruise brought us to Bossaro, we were driven inland to the incredible Bagnoli Estate, with its elegant Renaissance gardens and statuary. We also toured the 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. Tania, see below left, the personable guide from the Estate, added a lot of fun to this tour. Then it was back to La Bella Vita for cocktails and dinner. Something I had never seen before was the introduction of the lunch and dinner wines using a very large regional map. After dinner came another great highlight, a live performance of Italian opera arias, also including hilarious cameo roles by Rudy and Laura. Our barge rang with glorious music creating an evening I will not soon forget.

Thursday: Bosaro to Trevenzuolo
Fabulous Frescoes in Elegant Ferrara
A morning excursion to the Renaissance town of Ferrara began with a tour of Schifanoia Palace with its 15th century frescoes, explained in detail by our excellent guide, followed by a walk through this elegant town. We were shown the Jewish quarter and learned that Ferrara was the setting for the book and movie, ‘The Garden of the Finzi-Contini,” a story of Italian Jews and their lives before being killed in the Holocaust. We then returned to La Bella Vita for afternoon cruise to Revere, a small and typical town of the region. On an informal tour, we were shown the town museum, which had been proudly restored by the residents, and which included pictures of an Allied assault in World War II - which destroyed the major bridge and much of the town – but which prevented German troops from marching on to Rome. Here I am with Nick Sack, AKA Monsieur Le Barge Lady, posing against a fun mural right at the town entrance.

Friday: Trevenzuolo to Mantua
Spectacular Ducal Palace and Renaissance Grandeur in Mantua
Our final cruise included a dramatic approach to Mantua, pictured below, home of the poet Virgil, artists Mantegna and Donatello and captivating lakeside setting. Mantua displays extraordinary neo-classical and baroque architecture, portrayed in the 14th century Ducal Palace housing some 15 gardens and courtyards, a museum, basilica and theatre. To see the intricate frescoes, Gallery of Mirrors and exquisite Rivers Room and 12,000 paintings and sculptures was a worthy finale to our Italian Renaissance adventure. We then walked back to La Bella Vita, now moored in Mantua, to prepare for the Captain’s Dinner. Like the rest of Chef Andrea Chin’s cuisine, it was delicious, and I was thrilled to be able to purchase his cookbook to take home as a souvenir. The entire crew toasted us as we enjoyed champagne and a decadent chocolate dessert, making us all sad to leave the barge, our crew, and our new friends.

Saturday: Mantua to Venice
A Sad Farewell
At 9:00 am we were chauffeured back to the Laguna Palace in Mestre, from where guests can take a cab to Marco Polo Airport or return to Venice for more time in this delightful city.

Please Note: On alternate weeks the cruise will be in the reverse direction. This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change *The designated meeting and drop off point is in Mestre or Venice. Other options are available for charter groups

+ - Menu

La Bella Vita Sample Menus

Barge Lady Ellen enjoyed these meals aboard La Bella Vita on her October 2015 cruise.

Captain's Farewell Dinner
Puff Pastry Pouch with Mushrooms and Truffle Fondue
* * *
Tortelli filled with Taleggio Cheese
* * *
Duck Breast with Balsamic Sauce,
Roasted Potatoes

* * *
Cheeses
Parmaggiano Reggiano with Walnuts and Grapes
* * *
Hot Chocolate Mini Cake with Orange Sauce
* * *
Wines
Bosco di Fratta Magnum
Cabernet Sauvignon
Lambrusco Otello
Recioto Valpolicella

* * * * *

Lunch
Sopressa Salami, Ossocollo and Pepper Cheese
*
Quiche of Mushrooms,  Asiago and Swiss Chard
*
Pork Fillet with Mediterranean Herbs
* * *
Cheese
Biancone
* * *
Tiramisu
* * *
Wines
Lacrima Rosa
* * * * *

Dinner
King Prawn Salad with Valeriana, Tomatoes and Orange
* * *
Carrot and Ginger Soup with Poached King Prawn and Crispy Bread
* * *
Roasted Sea Bass with Yellow Pepper Dressing
* * *
Cheeses
Morlacco & Asmonte
* * *
Cocoa and Almond Tart with Red Fruits
* * *
Wines
Pinot Bianco
Greco di Tufo
Fiordi D'Arancio

* * * * * 

Picture a Barge Cruise in Italy on La Bella Vita

La Bella Vita Guest Book

"Great trip all around! We were lucky we had good weather and we liked and got along with all the guests. Crew was great! Food was very tasty. The Chef offered all different kinds of eggs every morning, and the breakfast buffet had lots of fresh fruit and everything else. Loved the cappuccino on demand! We enjoyed all of the excursions and our cabin was fine as well. All the pre-trip information was good. Love you guys!"

- Lonnie and Albert Willis, cruised May, 2016 (repeat Barge Lady guests)

"Our cabin was first rate -- good storage which is always appreciated. The crew was exemplary, always anticipating our needs. The cuisine was outstanding, and the excursions were well-timed. Everything was clear prior to the cruise. Your pre-trip information was excellent. You have it all covered. My summation is that your cruises are always first rate. Thank you to all of the Barge Ladies."

- Al and Lura Granger, cruised October, 2015 (repeat Barge Lady guests)

"We had a totally wonderful week with a great group of people. Captain Diego was just a pleasure to know, and Hostess Laura, who worked so hard and always smiled, did a fabulous job. She also looked beautiful at the Captain's Dinner. I think all of the crew were from Padua. It must be a special city, because every one of them did an excellent job. Every meal was delicious and a pleasure to look at each plate, and daily sightseeing excursions were very good. We were given clear pre-trip information, and Barge Lady Ellen helped enormously with arrangements to get to the barge and off again."

- Diane Vigilante, cruised September, 2015 (repeat Barge Lady guest)

"The crew was great. All of them were very friendly and went out of their way to assure that we had a wonderful cruise. The cuisine was good, the cheeses were delicious, and the presentation at mealtimes was excellent. A highlight of the itinerary was having dinner with the countess in her 400-year-old home/estate. It was an evening to remember. Our cabin was spotlessly clean, nicely decorated, and in excellent repair. The bath was a nice size for a boat and very clean. Barge Lady services were great -- as always!"

- Charles Sparrer, cruised August, 2015 (repeat Barge Lady guest)

+ - More!

La Bella Vita Blog Posts, Recipes, Articles and Videos

Ask any Barge Lady, and she’ll tell you: when it comes to travel, more is better! Explore below for more of everything we love – videos, articles, blog posts, recipes and MORE!

 

 

New Year, New Cruise: Bienvenuto in Italy aboard La Bella Vita
A fresh destination for Barge Lady travelers awaits… new to the Barge Lady fleet, bienvenuti a bordo Italy’s La Bella Vita!!

 

 

Cruising with The Barge Lady
Our friends over at The International Kitchen share a guest blog post on cruising with The Barge Lady and Italy barge La Bella Vita


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