Castellare di Tonda - Italy

Medieval Tuscany Short Break

5 star rating   1 June 2022

Sean (this is their first In The Saddle holiday) Fantastic riding holiday in amazing countryside | Yes it did. After initial trepidation in the indoor arena learning 'Western' with Franco, we were out on a trail. Our confidence grew together with our understanding of our horses. Very good package of rides around the area with welcome lunch stops.
Thankfully dry and no flies so perfect conditions for us and the horses.
Ailsa was an absolute star, she was very in tune with the group, keeping us safe and maximising our enjoyment. Going out at 6am to mark a twisty trip with paint says it all. She was ably assisted by Costansa and Diego and with Franco's oversight they were a great team.

The Riding

How well were you matched with the right horse for your ability?
5 star rating
How would you rate the variety of riding, pace or terrain?
4 star rating
How would you rate the overall standard of the horses, tack and stables?
5 star rating

The Accommodation

How would you rate your room(s) for comfort and facilities?
4 star rating
How would you rate the standard of the food?
3 star rating

Do you have any comments about the accommodation and food?

Firstly the accompanying we were in (Fornace) was a short walk to the restaurant. given the distances of other units this was welcome as it could have made for a very long walk or drive (if you had a car).
Another advantage of Furnace was the good sized pool - excellent after a hot days riding. It was very clean.
The room itself was 'rustic'. Clean and functional although a bit dated ie furniture and small shower cubical. Would have been nice to have had a kettle make a cup of tea.
Wi-fi was poor - you had to go outside of the accom to sign into their wifi each time.
Food - the fist night (sat) was appalling. The restaurant was quite busy but sufficient staff. I had to explain to the waitress our HB included 1/2 bottle of wine each. It took nearly 2 hours to be served and eat. unfortunate we sent food back as it was either cold (pasta !) or undercooked. We got the impression we were second class diners. We complained at the time and got an apology.
We spoke to Ailsa about our experience. She took this up and I must say from then on it improved. Staff were more attentive and service improved. It was also apparent when there was a change in chef.
Breakfast was very good, ample selection.
HB - Generally this was good with the mix and match of 3x items for dinner. That said the menu did not change so by the forth night we were repeating. The HB menu was a slimed down version of the main menu. If you didn't eat fish (Rose), were not keen on the beans and had had pasta already you were left with a (substantial) salad with a dessert.
Based on our experience we believe that you could consider offering a B&B option at a reduced rate. We tried some fantastic local restaurants - assuming you have a car to get out and about.
[Becky from In The Saddle replies: Thank you very much for taking the time to give us feedback. We will follow up with the ride operator regarding the menu and service in the restaurant.]

Before Your Holiday

Did you have all of the information you needed to:

Plan and prepare for your holiday?
5 star rating
Feel comfortable about your transfers and what to expect?
5 star rating

How could we improve the quality of pre-holiday information that we send?

Your comms had been excellent but there was one element that caught us out. I appreciate that it was our responsibility to read all the relevant covid requirements - but the PPF2 mask ! At Bristol they would not have allowed you to check in without one. But none to buy anywhere - in our local town or at the airport. Thankfully Laura found an acceptable version in a builders merchants.
Ironically when we got into Pisa Airport security staff said you could take them off.
The guidance stated they were needed to for travel from Italy - but no-one on the Ryanair flight back (another story - courtesy of Easyjet cancelling our flight !! ) was wearing one.

How could we improve the way we handled your booking and payment?


Do you have any other feedback for us?

Laura, Graham, Rose and I had a fantastic holiday, both riding and enjoying Tuscany. We flew out a day early to do the tourist bit - Square of Miracles (up the tower) and Lucca before heading to Castellare.