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Sail down the River Po to Venice enjoying splendid sights and delicious tastes

Mirror logo Mirror 9/02/2017 Jo Kelly
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The gondolas and water taxis gliding up and down Venice’s canals reveal the city’s unique beauty in the best way – from the water.

Most people only get the chance to enjoy such views for an hour or maybe a day, but our cruise on the River Po in northern Italy meant a week of these splendid sights.

From the balcony of our cabin on Uniworld’s River Countess my fiancé Matt and I enjoyed a myriad of spectacular views.

We saw Venice’s grand ­buildings, colourful fishing villages, bustling markets and ­riverbanks bursting with wildlife.

Our favourite stop was Bologna, a food lover’s paradise, where we visited the famous restaurant and jazz club Cantina Bentivoglio and watched pasta chefs demonstrating the amazing art of creating tortellini and tortelloni from scratch.

We had the chance to try our hand but, even better, got to sample the results along with traditional tagliatelle bolognese, a cut above the spag bol we eat in the UK.

Food and wine is definitely a key theme on the Venice and Gems of Northern Italy cruise sold through Titan – and both are outstanding on board.

The main restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows, plush chairs and twinkling chandeliers, hosts a buffet breakfast, then divine a la carte lunches and dinners.

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One morning a group of early risers joined the head chef on a market trip to learn how he selects ingredients for that evening’s feast.

Diners can enjoy lighter meals including salad and pizza on the top deck, under the stars. When the boat is docked in Venice this is particularly spectacular.

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On one such night, with the city’s illuminated domes and bridges rising from the water, we enjoyed a screening of Johnny Depp and ­Angelina Jolie’s film The Tourist, which is set in Venice.

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Uniworld manages to sprinkle the trip with a handful of truly memorable moments. Top of the bill was a VIP after-hours visit to St Mark’s Basilica for a lighting ­ceremony to see the famous golden ceiling emerge from the darkness.

Some guests opted to stay aboard the ship most days to enjoy facilities which included a spa, gym, sauna, running track, games room and giant outdoor chess board.

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There were even yoga classes to help burn off the effects of the 24-hour cookie station.

Touches of luxury include L’Occitane and Hermes toiletries. The door-to-door service, where you’re picked up at home, whisked off to the airport and then ­chauffeured to your ship on the other side, also makes you feel special.

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The ship only takes 130 ­passengers, and the staff are very attentive. Our bartender even created a personalised cocktail for us!

Most excursions are included in the price but there are a couple of optional extras, one of which is kayaking along the canals of Venice.

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It’s this memory from the trip which I’ll keep closest. Matt and I, in our own kayak, were led along the world’s most famous waterways by a fantastic guide who treated us to snippets of history and local knowledge as we paddled along.

If taking in Venice from the water is the best way to see La Serenissima, then being but a few inches above the water line as you do it has to be the best of the best.

BOOK IT

Titan and Uniworld has an all-inclusive eight-day Venice and the Gems of Northern Italy river cruise on River Countess from £2,249 per person departing on April 9. Includes Gatwick flights, excursions and VIP transfers.

titantravel.co.uk, 0800 988 5873

TOP TIPS Try a half day trip to Torcello, Murano and Burano.

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