The Po offers a European river cruise unlike any other, as you’ll have the opportunity to experience one of the continent’s most unique and celebrated cities, Venice, before or after you set sail. The Po travels eastward across the north of Italy for over 400 miles before ending its journey close to Taglio di Po, which lies just south of the Venice lagoon on the country’s east coast. Shorter itineraries on this historic waterway are Venice round-trips, but longer ones involve land excursions to some of Italy’s most treasured cities, including Verona, Florence and even Rome on extended Po river cruise holiday packages.
Owing to its proximity to the river, it’s no surprise that cruises along the Po begin and often end in Venice. You’ll have plenty of time to explore this timelessly romantic city, where the lack of cars means you’ll have no choice but to stroll or sail, having more time to soak up the atmosphere and beautiful architecture. You can visit the legendary St Mark’s Square, where you’ll find the beautiful basilica of the same name and the opulent Doge’s Palace. Of course, there’s also the opportunity for a gondola ride but it’s always a good idea to board one away from the bustling Grand Canal, as you’ll see more of the city’s smaller canals and likely pay a more reasonable rate too.
This Po port acts as your gateway to the historic walled town of Padua – one of the oldest settlements in Italy and also home to one of the world’s oldest universities. Indeed, the university is a popular tourist attraction, not surprising when you consider that such luminaries as Galileo and Dante worked and studied here. The beautiful Basilica of Saint Antony is another major attraction, as it is the burial place of the apostle St Mark and contains a number of works by one of Italy’s most legendary artistic sons, Donatello.
Polesella presents the choice of two excursions, either to Bologna or Ferrara. Bologna is another opportunity to visit an aged seat of learning, as the city’s university is one of Europe’s oldest. Then there’s the food. This is none other than the place which gave Bolognese Sauce its name and indeed, the city’s famed for boasting some of the country’s finest cuisine and with many excursions spending a full day there, you’ll have plenty of time to sample its culinary delights. Ferrara is more unassuming, but boasts an incredible artistic pedigree, having once been home to the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael.
Taglio di Po
This port lies close to the coast, so it’s only a relatively short transfer away from Porto Levante on the Adriatic. This laid-back settlement plays host to the tranquil Po Delta Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is home to many different species of fish and water birds and is a great place to simply relax and soak up the idyllic scenery.
A number of extended Po River cruise holiday also give you the chance to explore further inland and visit some of Italy’s most famous and historic cities. From Venice, there’s sometimes the option of an excursion to Verona, the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Florence, one of the country’s most artistically beautiful cities and home to Michael Angelo’s David. Rome is also often an option, where you’ll be able to explore for yourself such-world famous attractions as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican.
Italy travel tips
The currency in Italy is the Euro. As you will visit a number of destinations popular with tourists, you’ll find that many people you meet will speak some English but they’ll appreciate your attempts at Italian, even if it’s just a ‘grazie’.