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Tranquility and Culture on La Bella Vita, Po Valley Hotel Barge

January 22, 2012

‘‘Oh, yes, a river cruise,’’ exclaimed my friend when I said we were going on a trip through Italy’s Po Valley on a hotel barge.

‘‘No, no,’’ I insisted. ‘‘Hotel barges are very different from river cruises.’’ I told her that they were just as luxurious, but had far fewer passengers, averaging only eight to 10, while river cruises typically carry more than 100, and sometimes as many asImage 200.

‘‘I like hotel barges because of the tranquility they offer,’’ I said.

‘‘They usually travel on canals and can get into areas where larger boats cannot go. You see not only the remote countryside, but also visit small cities, castles,
villas, and wineries. In fact, you vacation the way royalty did several centuries ago.’’

Europe has had a canal system since the 12th century and until the 20th century it was the chief route for transporting cargo. Now most barges are recreational.

By the end of the week, we had walked through Mantua with its layers of Byzantine, Medieval, and Renaissance buildings; Ferrara with its 15th century frescoes at Schifanoi Palace, and Castello Estense which dominates the town sqaure.  After the fishing town of Chiogga, we headed north up the Venice Lagoon and the Lido to St. Mark’s Square where we began exploring art at the city’s many museums and churches.    Read more at

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 31, 2012 8:04 pm

    Thank you, Emilie, for being so helpful and so quick to answer my questions about your cruise on La Bella Vita. I have clients cruising on it this year, and you have helped assure me that their cruise will be a great experience. Thank you and happy writing, Beth

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