When it comes to boat hire holidays, Italy offers some spectacular waterways for exploring this fascinating, surprising country that you’re bound to fall in love with. There’s nothing cooler than cruising along, your hair flying in the wind, as if you’re in a film. It’s going to be La Dolce Vita afloat!

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Explore Italy by sea: unforgettable!

Italy is a country of passions that leaves no one unmoved. It’s the place to take an iconic Vespa ride, listen to opera on a starry night, shop for high-end fashion and sip a caffè ristretto in the early hours of the morning as if you’re in a cult Cinecittà film.

You’ll love Italy’s delicious food and drink, its many-flavoured, multi-coloured pasta, the artistic treasures crowding its towns and museums and even the smallest villages. Push open the door of a church to find unique works of art. Drink in the views of vine-covered hills and slender cypresses. Enjoy the way of life here, the lilting accents and the endearing taste for exaggeration. When you take a boat hire holiday in Italy, you can cruise into the heart of the Po delta, navigating between salt-marshes, forests and clumps of pine trees, looking out for elegant migratory birds. Everything draws your eye here. And of course there’s the sea, its islands and ports, and the idea of casting off from the Grand Canal during the Venice carnival – a dream that’s more accessible than you thought! Setting off on a cruise at the helm of your self-drive boat is a dream that can come true. Andiamo!

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The most beautiful lagoon contains the loveliest jewel.

Mysterious and secretive, the Venice Lagoon opens onto the Adriatic, mingling its waters and destiny with the sea. It’s an inspirational place to discover on a cruise.

Venice lagoon

This spectacular bay, subtly enclosed by the sea, has been listed alongside Venice as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Calling all romantics: boating holidays in Italy are just for you!

Rent a boat in Italy to explore its most beautiful jewels from the open sea. Take the helm of a self-drive boat or relax on deck, while your crew cooks up a dish of pasta al dente. There’s so much to see – and you’re bound to want to see everything – so it’s just as well you can choose the length of your boat hire in Italy. You’ll want to give everything your full attention as you cruise along.

Even if it’s not the first time you’ve been here, this time is going to be special. Maybe the Riva motor boat you fancied wasn’t available this time, but that’s OK: your no-license canal boat from Locaboat was! On board, you could while away your time arguing the relative merits of Juventus and Inter. You could re-read Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, or enjoy the lively sounds of the markets, and maybe do a spot fishing. And, of course, you can explore the City of the Doges as if you’re an expert. Make the journey that will turn everyone green with envy: a cruise on the Venice Lagoon.

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Navigate the idyllic waterways of southern Europe with a canal boat in Italy

Heading west along the Tartaro-Canalbianco-Po di Levante River

Beginning your Italy river cruise in the town of Chioggia is the perfect starting point to explore the northeast waterways of the Italian peninsula. Located right on the southern edge of the Venice lagoon and at the intersection of numerous canals and rivers, Chioggia offers up a multitude of adventures. The town itself is a picturesque seaside town, full of idyllic narrow streets, medieval churches and buildings, and a laid-back feel. All of this makes Chioggia an ideal staging for canal boat holidays in Italy.

As you leave Chioggia in your boat from the Locaboat base, there are a number of different routes you can take.

Choosing the westerly route from Chioggia, you will join the Tartaro-Canalbianco-Po di Levante River, which will take you through the rolling green countryside of the Veneto interior.

After leaving the coastal plains, you first come to the small commune town of Adria, a historic town. Much of this history can be seen throughout the town. Adria’s religious buildings are some of its most impressive attractions, especially the St Maria Assunta della Tomba with its ancient baptismal font. If you are a real history fanatic, the National Archaeological Museum is a real treat and is jam-packed with artefacts found over thousands of years of human settlement in Adria.

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River cruises in Italy’s Veneto region

Your boating holiday will continue further into the country’s interior and westward down the Tartaro-Canalbianco-Po di Levante River. After Adria, there is little in the way of huge settlements for a good few miles. The rolling farmland that encloses the waterways is breathtaking enough to keep you entertained and relaxed as you navigate your way through the Italian countryside, and after all, these scenes are what really make barge cruises in Italy what they are.

The river widens after a while, and your second destination will appear to the right; the town of Rovigo. Rich in both history and culture, Rovigo has a number of different must-see sights, and its general overall townwide architecture is one of charm and elegance.

One of Rovigo’s most famous sights is the ‘two towers’, part of two separate towers that were once part of a huge castle. Torre Donà and Torre Grimani, as they are both known, stand at sixty-six metres high.

Not far from the ‘two towers’ is a monument with a modern story. It is dedicated to the anti-fascist Giacomo Matteotti, who was murdered for speaking out against voting corruption during the 1920s. With both ancient and modern history, the town of Rovigo is a real delight for the senses and keen historians themselves. Aside from this, there is also an air of cafe culture, gelato eating and a laidback sensibility that makes Rovigo a must-stop destination when navigating your canal boat on Italy’s Tartaro-Canalbianco-Po di Levante River.

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Exploring the western section of the river from Rovigo

Travelling on from Rovigo, the river meanders on for a good few miles. Here you can experience the beautiful scenery of the Italian countryside as it passes by. There are a number of small villages on your route and while there may not be many big tourist attractions or famous sights, they do offer up the perfect opportunity to mix amongst the locals. Stopping at any one of these small communities will give you the chance to pick up lunch, stop for a coffee or even a little Apéritif.

Once you have passed by these picturesque villages, you will catch sights of the town of Ostiglia. Ostiglia is another Italian town that saw its pinnacle during the Roman and Medieval eras.

This Medieval hangover is seen throughout the town’s architecture and prominent sights. Best of all these have to be the ancient medieval tower and its interesting museum inside.

A short walk to the north of the town will bring you to the ‘Santuario Beata Vergine della Comuna’, a small sanctuary-like church in the Italian countryside. Visiting this church is a real immersive experience and gives you a taste of true countryside Catholicism, a real quintessential Italian experience. A little further downstream is a similar small town, that of Governolo, an unassuming but charming stop off before the city of Mantua. Governolo is home to beautiful buildings and a local park that only adds to the beautiful outdoorsy feel.

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Reach the end of the line on your Italy river boat cruise

Coming to the end of the Tartaro-Canalbianco-Po di Levante River, you will notice the waterways open up into large artificial lakes surrounding the city of Mantua. Mantua is a fantastic place to finish your riverboat exploration of northeast Italy. Named the Italian Capital of Culture, Mantua is a city brimming with history, culture and gastronomical prowess, making it an unmissable stop when exploring this area.

Top of the to-do list when you’re in Mantua has to be its Palazzo Ducale, a huge castle complex made up of numerous buildings, courtyards and gardens. This impressive building is more than up to the standards of any royal palace and is a must-see when in the city.

Another jaw-dropping building that is not to be missed is the Palazzo Te in Mantua, a grand manor house with impressive architectural design. It was actually designed by Giulio Romano, a top student of Raphael. One of the most famous high-renaissance frescos adorns the ceiling of the Palazzo Te in Mantua, depicting the fall of the giants.

More examples of Mantua’s stunning architecture proves why the city has been granted its UNESCO status, and Rotonda di San Lorenzo is a perfect example of this. The oldest church in Mantua, the Rotonda di San Lorenzo was built-in in the late 11th century, in a location where a temple dedicated to Venus once stood. As soon as you’ve had your fill of ancient architecture, why not kick back and relax with an espresso in the Piazza Sordello, a square in the heart of the city.

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Sailing your boat rental in Italy’s Venician region

Start your boat trip south of the Venice lagoon

No boating holiday in Italy would be complete without exploring the water strewn city of Venice. Venice canal boat rentals can be secured from the town of Chioggia, which sits just south of the Venice lagoon. On getting the keys to your beloved canal boat, you’re now set to explore one of Italy’s most sought after tourist destinations, Venice. As you leave the Chioggia harbour, you’ll be met with the great expanse of water in the beautiful Venice lagoon.

It’s not long before you come to the first destination on the Venice trail, the island of Pellestrina. A lesser-known section of Venice, the island is a haven for beach lovers and those who want to escape the often overcrowded touristy section of Venice city.

Colourful houses adorn the coast, and you can get enjoyably lost in the narrow cobbled streets of Pellestrina. Idyllic fishing homes, cafes and bars can also be found along the front, something that only increases the tranquillity of the island.

Steering your boat charter in Italy, you can now continue up the coast of the lagoon, easing ever closer to Venice proper. Before reaching the city of Venice, however, a visit to another of the thinner islands around the lagoon is a must. The island of Lido stands as a barrier between the Adriatic sea and Venice lagoon, creating a seaside haven of an island. Alongside being known for the Venice film festival, Lido has also won awards for its pristine beaches.

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Navigating the seldom-visited Vancian islands with your boat hire in Italy

Aside from the longer islands and the main city of Venice, this lagoon is also home to a number of must-see smaller islands and towns on the northeastern coast of Italy. The island of Torcello, north of Venice, is one such island that makes for the perfect exploration location north of Venice. One of the oldest inhabited islands in the area, Torcello is an island of ancient history. The island’s 7th-century church, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is a window on the Torcellos religious past. A little closer to the city of Venice is the island of Murano, another island that draws in thousands of visitors every year. Murano is known as the glass island, having carved out a glass-blowing industry over the past few hundred years.

You can get a real sense of this glass-blowing culture at the Murano Glass Museum, where live glass-blowing workshops and demonstrations are carried out.

Last of the smaller Venice islands is the island of Burano, known for another major historic export, lace. The lace of Burano was sold across the globe and has made this island famous. You can get to know its historic association with this craft at the island’s Burano Lace Museum. Alongside the historic connection is Burano untenable beauty; more like a series of islands connected by bridges, exploring Burano by foot and by boat offers its own unique angle of the Venician island.

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Take your Italian canal boat to the island of Sant’Erasmo

The largest of the unfrequented Italian islands is the island of Sant’Erasmo. Historically a port of Murano, Sant’Erasmo has taken on its own autonomy over the centuries and has slowly dropped out of favour with those who search for canal boats for hire, opting for more popular islands.

This is a crying shame, as Sant’Erasmo offers some of the most idyllic and unspoilt spots in the entire Venice lagoon area. This best-kept-secret has few inhabitants, and those who do live here are tillers of the earth and concern themselves with farms rather than tourists.

Exploring the island of Sant’Erasmo includes a range of different activities, each one a small antidote to the overcrowded streets of Venice City.

Rolling farmland covers the islands, where locals grow fields of artichokes and asparagus as well as a string of vineyards. As well as the farmlands, Sant’Erasmo is also home to a series of forts, known as the Tower of Maximilian. Many of these forts dated back as far as the 16th century, added to by Napoleon and were in use right up to the First World War. This combination of picturesque farmland and history makes the island of Sant’Erasmo a unique experience when exploring the Venician islands.

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Exploring the city of Venice with your canal boat hire in Italy

Arguably the star of the show, the main city of Venice is the perfect place to explore from the comfort of your canal boat. Much like when you rent a boat in Amsterdam, exploring Venice via its waterways gives you a different perspective on the city and is often much easier than doing so on foot. A city full of wonders and attractions, Venice is a place that can be returned to again and again, with a whole new itinerary every time. Here are a few highlights from the city itself.

The Doge’s Palace is one of the city’s most famous and popular sights, and it is easy to see why. A huge complex that was once the home of Vencies leaders, known as doges.

The Venicitin Gothic styled palace was constructed in the late fourteenth century and stood the test of time, becoming one of the most lavish palaces in all of Europe.

A short walk, or sail, from the Doge’s Palace is another of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Bridge of Sighs. This bridge once crossed the canal from an old interrogation room to the prison in the Doge’s Palace, and legend has it that the view was the last thing the prisoners would see before being taken down to the cells. Walking across the bridge will allow you to visit the many stalls that have been set up on the stone but boating underneath offers some of the best views of the bridge.

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Why choose Locaboat?

Locaboat Holidays has been the industry specialist for boating holidays and waterways cruises since 1977. Inventor of the Pénichette®, Locaboat is as famous for the friendliness and quality of its customer service as for the comfort and easy handling of its boats. When you rent a boat from Locaboat, you’ll benefit from the advice of local experts who are passionate about boating and will do their utmost to make sure you enjoy a wonderful holiday.

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