European river cruises also include Italy and although only a couple of cruise lines currently sail the Po, it is the longest river in Italy which flows almost 400 miles in an easterly direction through cities, such as Turin, Piacenza, Mantua, and Ferrara. Po River cruises currently focus on the most easterly portions of the Po, Venice, its neighboring islands in the Venice Lagoon, as well as historic towns of northeastern Italy such as Verona, Polesella, Bologna, Padua, and Ferrara.
Here is a sample of the highlights of Uniworld’s “Milan, Venice, and Gems of Northern Italy” itinerary:
Day 1 and 2
You begin your journey in Milan and see such sights as the gothic cathedral, the shopping arcade, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”.
On the way to Venice by motorcoach, you’ll stop in Verona for a tour which includes seeing the 14th century stone houses where the inspiration for “Romeo & Juliet” took place based on the real-life feuding Scaligeri family who ruled Verona for two centuries along with other historic sites, with free time to wander on your own. The afternoon will include a journey through the lovely vine-clad hills of the Valpolicella wine country for a tour and lunch at a wine estate. You’ll arrive in Venice in the evening and settle into your beautiful river cruise ship.
Today will feature a walking tour of Venice featuring Doge’s Palace and other prominent sites, along with an evening visit to St. Mark's Basilica.
You have several choices of excursions today which include a bike ride on Chioggia, an island often described as a second Venice in miniature, a walking tour of one of Venice’s six main sestieri, or districts, the Dorsoduro, which is is quieter than some of the more popular districts and thus has an authentic, easygoing atmosphere. Another option will be a full tour of Padua, which flourished as a hub of learning and discovery in the 13th and 14th centuries. The second-oldest university in Italy was founded here in 1222, hosting such students as Copernicus and faculty as Galileo.
The ship will dock in Polesella and today you can choose between exploring Italy’s culinary capital of Bologna on a full-day tour packed with an exclusive pasta-making workshop and lunch or explore the fascinating town of Ferrara on a half-day tour, a city with gothic beginnings but with a Renaissance-era planned city center.
Today you’ll enjoy a visit to the market in Chioggia, a quintessential Venetian Lagoon fishing village. The ship will dock overnight in Burano, where you’ll have a chance to stroll the streets.
Today you’ll have an all-day excursion exploring the northern lagoon of Venice and three of its captivating islands. Explore a basilica with an art historian in Torcello before heading to the peaceful, agricultural island of Mazzorbo. End the tour with a stroll through Burano’s rainbow of colorful homes.
You’ll be back in Venice today with a full day to explore or shop as you dock near the Rialto Bridge and Fondaco dei Tedeschi. A farewell dinner will be served onboard your ship.
Note: Italian Maritime Authorities require that only crew may be on the ship during the Adriatic Sea passages, which means there are times that all passengers will be required to participate in on-shore excursions.
This itinerary is also offered with family-friendly excursions on specific sailings. Many of these experiences are best discovered on foot. Romantics, connoisseurs of food & wine, and lovers of art & architecture will love this adventure.
This cruise lends itself well to extensions in Lake Como, Milan, or even to Zurich and the Swiss Alps.
Message me for more details and let me know if this one’s on your travel bucket list.
*Photos courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.