Italy ~ Chianti
These rides start from a traditional Tuscan farmhouse south-east of Florence and north-east of Siena and explore the Arno valley and the neighbouring Chianti hills. The rolling countryside is made up of vineyards, olive groves and extensive woodlands of oak, chestnut and pine, while on the hilltops perch ancient castles and medieval villages that seem lost in another age. Warm spring days are full of birdsong and wild flowers and end in long, balmy evenings. In Autumn the farmers are busy harvesting the grapes and the woodland trees turn yellow and gold. Several different itineraries are available. The Discover Tuscany week, of which the Taste of Tuscany programme is a shorter version, combines plenty of riding with a chance to explore 'Toscana Minore', the lesser-known treasures of the area. Inside Tuscany combines relaxed riding with sightseing; Riding with Frescoes includes morning rides and visits to nearby towns and chrches one night is spent at San Gimignano (extra cost); Family weeks are similar to the Discover Tuscany Ride, based at Rendola each night but with visits to Florence & Siena. Non-riders are welcome on most programmes and guided walks and cookery lessons can be organized on request. Under the careful guidance of your English host, who is a mine of information about the history, customs, flora and fauna of the area (not to mention Tuscan art and architecture), all rides are an excellent introduction to rural Tuscany. Flasks of Chianti wine accompany your meals and to top it all, Franca the cook provides the best Tuscan cooking using ingredients from the farm's organic garden.
Rides of 7 and 4 nights are run from various fixed dates in April, May, June, August, September and October. Other stays can sometimes be arranged on request.
Riding: 3-6 hours a day.
Horses: local Maremmani crosses, Arab crosses
Pace: moderate but relaxed.
Riding ability: intermediate, but suitable for some novice riders
Weight limit: 87kg (13st 10lbs).
Group size: maximum 7 (for some programmes the maximum 10, but the group is split for riding).
Season: April to June, September & October.
Horses: There are about 18 horses at Rendola, mainly crosses of local Italian breeds such as Sicilian and Maremmani, with several Arab crosses and a few pure Arabs, originating from Sardinia. They are of medium build and average between 14.2hh and 16hh. They are all well schooled and are a responsive, enjoyable ride and there is a good selection of horses for riders of all levels. Tack is English style with suede 'seat savers' and saddlebags provided if required. There is a strict rider weight limit of 13 stone 10 lbs / 87 kgs. The Discover Tuscany and Taste of Tuscany Rides are limited to a maximum of 10 guests split into two groups of 5 for riding.
Hours: There is generally between 2 and 5 hours riding a day
Pace and experience required: These rides are at a relaxed and fairly gentle pace, the aim being to enjoy the surrounding countryside, and to combine sightseeing with riding, rather than hard, fast riding. The minimum requirement to take part is that you have a reasonable amount of previous riding experience (English style) and are comfortable and secure on a horse at a walk, trot and canter. You should also be used to riding over varied terrain. Novice riders can be taken on most itineraries with advance warning. The horses are well schooled and there are plenty of chances to trot and canter during the rides although trots and canters are normally in short stretches as you are riding around small fields, vineyards, villages and wooded valleys.
Accommodation is at Rendola, a traditional Tuscan farmhouse in the hamlet of the same name and on 'moving' rides, includes nights in other similar farmhouses and local hotels. Rendola, which is your host's home, is a traditional two storey stone farmhouse. It is very much a home rather than a hotel - but accommodation is comfortable. Bedrooms are of varying sizes, painted in fresh pastel colours and furnished in typical rural Italian style. They have terracotta tiled floors and all have a small adjoining tiled bathroom with loo and shower. There is a large beamed dining room downstairs where meals are eaten at a long table and a small sitting room upstairs. The house is at the top of a hill surrounded by olive groves with lovely views over the Arno valley. The atmosphere is informal and welcoming - you will immediately feel at home. On one itinerary a night is spent away from the base, usualy at a charming 'residenza d'epoca' in San Gimignano. Rates on all trips are based on twin rooms. Single rooms are not always possible and depend on numbers on the ride.
Discover Tuscany Ride - Euros 1565
Riding & Frescoes
Itinerary in brief - Discover Tuscany Ride. Please enquire for other itineraries
|Day 1||Arrive Florence station where you will be met at 17.45 and taken by train to Montevarchi. From Montevarchi there is a short drive to the farmhouse in Rendola. Dinner and overnight at Rendola.|
||Breakfast, then a morning ride of about 2½ hours through the picturesque Arno valley, along woodland tracks and around vineyards returning to Rendola for lunch. In the afternoon a guided walk, or light hearted introduction to Italian language, then dinner and overnight at Rendola.|
||Breakfast and a morning ride returning to Rendola for lunch. An afternoon of guided sightseeing with a chance to visit Arezzo. Dinner and the night at Rendola.|
||A full day ride with a picnic lunch in the Chianti hills, passing the medieval village of San Leolino. Return to Rendola for dinner and the night.|
||A day free for your own arrangements, perhpas sightseeing in Florence, Assisi or Cortona - all an east train ride from Montevarchi. Own arrangements for lunch. Dinner and night at Rendola.|
||A morning ride and perhpas a visit ot Montevarchis market. In the afternoon another ride throguh the vineyards. Dinner and night at Rendola.|
||Breakfast then a ride of about 5 hours in all taking you to the top of the Chianti hills. Stop for barbecue lunch beside a boarhunters' hut and in the afternoon ride back to Rendola. Dinner and the final night at Rendola.|
||Breakfast and you will then be driven to Montevarchi station for the train to Florence.|
|Contact us at email@example.com or on tel (+44) (0)1837-82544 / 825440 for further information, detailed itineraries, dates and answers to questions.|
The meeting point for the ride is Florence train station. There are direct flights to Florence from London City with British Airwyas and from Gatwick with Vueling. An express shuttle bus runs between airport and railway station. Alternatively you can fly to Pisa or Bologna and take a bus or train to Florence. British Airways and Easy Jet have direct flights from London to Pisa which is only about 1 ¼ hours by bus from Florence, they also fly London to Bologna (about 2 hours on the train to Florence). Several other airlines have flights from regional UK airports to Pisa. For flights to Florence budget around £150 to £250 (depending on the season). Flights to Bologna and Pisa are usually available for around £120 to £150.