by Laura Jeeves

The Po River flows for 650km through the north. Back in the early 1700s, it was common for wealthy Venetian families to build grand estates along its route, thanks to its offering of land for shooting, fishing and growing crops. So much history is built, literally, into the banks of the country’s rivers, which is why river cruises in Italy are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in its long history. 

It was here, in the naturally rich Po Delta, that the Ca’Zen estate was established by the Zen family. Built on the foundations of a fifteenth-century oratory, lovers of medieval history will also be treated to a wonderfully preserved tabernacle that is housed in the still-standing chapel, which is dedicated to Santa Margherita. 

As well as this beautiful chapel, the estate comprises the elaborately furnished east and west wings, some outlying cottages and large granary barns, all of which were added in the early 1800s when the estate left the Zen family and was passed onto the Marchesi Guiccioli of Ravenna. 

Byron’s Love Affair on the Po 

River cruises in Italy are made all the more enjoyable for a little romance, and who better to bring a bit of love than the most romantic of Romantic poets? Yes, it was here, on the Ca’Zen estate that Byron carried out one of his most intense love affairs with Contessa Teresa Gamba, the wife of Alessandra Guiccuili. In an attempt to distance the lovers, Guiccuili banished his wife to the Ca’zen Villa, but Byron, like a true romantic hero, pursued her and they met in secret on the estate. The poet wrote some of his most celebrated works here, many of which are dedicated to his lover and their little world on the River Po. 

This is just one of many wonders to experience along Italy’s riverbanks. If you’re considering trying one of the many river cruises in Italy that are on offer, be sure to do your research and book with a reputable operator so that you get to experience the very best of what the country’s waterways have to offer. 

Author Plate 

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK’s most respected provider of all-inclusive luxury barge holidays. If you’re looking for the best river cruises in Italy, or cruises to other great destinations, they are the go-to experts. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.

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