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From the Etruscans to the Romans to the Renaissance, Tuscany is iconic in what it says about Italy. Visitors to Tuscany come for many reasons. Many come in search of fine art, others to explore the extraordinary countryside; gourmets and wine buffs enjoy the simple yet wonderful cuisine and wine; riders and walkers enjoy the mountain paths and rolling hills.
Your base for the week is Castellare di Tonda, a country resort and spa in the heart of Tuscany. This 800 acre working wine estate and Quarterhorse stud farm dates back to the Renaissance period, when it was owned by the Strozzi family of Florence. The estate is located almost equidistance between Pisa and Florence, above the medieval village of Montaione, and just a stone’s throw away from the historical cities of Lucca and Siena. The owners of the estate, Stefano and Alessandra, are passionate about their horses and riding, and have invested extensively in the facilities of the stud farm and equestrian centre.
There are two alternative riding itineraries.
Medieval Tuscany is a seven night itinerary comprising full and half day rides. The week includes approximately 20 hours of riding and is suitable for intermediate and experienced riders.
The Heart of Tuscany offers a more relaxed holiday and is an ideal itinerary for families and groups of mixed ability. The week includes 12 hours of riding, which can be a mixture of lessons and trail rides. You may also be able to join a full day ride, subject to ability and availability and additional riding can normally be arranged locally.
Each trail has been designed to include a variety of landscapes; from shady Mediterranean forests to rolling golden grain fields, vineyards and olive groves. Ride through a medieval village, visit ancient castle ruins in the middle of a forest still inhabited by wild boar or perhaps enjoy taking your horse for a paddle in the estate’s own private lake.
The trails are diverse, so every day on the farm riders can experience a different style of ride: take a canter alongside the river at the bottom of a beautiful canyon; discover medieval castles and abandoned churches on horseback; ride through vineyards and open pastures; stop for picnics in shady groves whilst the horses graze nearby.
There is a wide selection of interesting local fauna on the estate, including porcupines, boar, deer, badgers and even the Apennine wolf.
The Wellness Centre is open each day from 10am, except Tuesday. The estate also has a golf driving range, tennis courts and bicycles which can be reserved at reception. There is a lake for fishing and many hiking trails through the surrounding hills. Ceramics classes and cooking classes are also arranged on the estate.
Just 3 km away on a neighbouring estate is an 18 hole golf course, with equipment available to hire. Hire cars and taxis can also be booked at reception.
This ride has 2 choices of itinerary.
Please note that the itinerary may change depending on the weather at the time and other local conditions, but always with your best interests in mind.
Arrive at Castellare di Tonda. Time to settle into your apartment and relax before dinner at 8pm in the on-site Castellare Cucina restaurant.
Your first ride starts in the arena followed by a short ride through the estate. This morning is a quiet ride giving you the opportunity to get to know your horse and to feel comfortable with the style of riding.
In the afternoon ride through the estate, with more chances for challenging and slightly faster riding. Back at base untack and wash off your horse (your guide will be on hand should you require assistance with this).
A full day ride to San Vivaldo Monastery, riding down through tufo sand trails bordered by Tuscan vineyards and open fields. Riding up over the Carfolo river you pass under Castelfalfi and into the Bosco Gucci, a protected forest rich with local fauna and some impressive three hundred year old trees. The trail leads down into the San Vivaldo reserve, passing through old logging trails cut into the middle of pristine forests. This ride has some spectacular panoramic views of the rolling hills, and passes the medieval ruins of Vignale borgo and Vignale castle.
Stop for lunch at a shaded picnic spot above the Monastery. Later ride through a local Cinta Senese pig farm and twist and wind back through forest trails to Castellare di Tonda.
A full day ride to the old Barbialla estate. The trail starts by passing under the stables and down to the Castellare di Tonda lake, before winding up through forest trails until you reach the village of Sughera. Ride through the outskirts of the village, and then over the confines between Pisa and Florence into the Barbialla game reserve. Here the terrain opens up, and the views reach out as far as Volterra and San Miniato, and there may be a chance for some lovely canters. Have lunch beside an old abandoned Tuscan farmhouse before riding back to Castellare di Tonda.
Today the horses have a rest day and you can take the opportunity to visit Florence or Siena. Your guides will help you with transfers to the local train station where you can take a direct train to either Florence or Siena.
Today's full day ride takes you through long stretches of Chianti vineyards and then down through the Castelfalfi estate to the Casa di Rogli for lunch. The farmhouse is located at the bottom of a well-stocked game reserve and it is possible that you will see wild boar, deer, and Mouflon.
Pass underneath an ancient stone village with its own castle that dates back to the Longobard period, and then along narrow forested trails that lead down to the lake where the 2002 Pinocchio movie (Roberto Benigni) was filmed. The trail is rich in panoramic views, and again the terrain changes dramatically, opening up to wide fields full of flowers and sandy dirt roads lined with Cyprus trees, and hedgerows of sloe berries, rosehip and blackberries.
This morning’s ride is a lovely mix of beautiful open vineyards and fields, and thick shaded forests that wind past pretty Tuscan stone farmhouses.
In the afternoon a final sunset ride, enjoying some relaxing canters through the estate.
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Accommodation is in warm Tuscan-style self-catering apartments built into each of the twelve beautifully restored farm houses on the estate.
Couples will normally have a lovely one bedroomed apartment. Two friends will normally have a two bedroomed apartment with a shared bathroom. Families can have a two or three bedroomed apartment.
Single travellers can guarantee a single one bedroom apartment by paying a single supplement. If you are willing to share a two bedroomed apartment (one bathroom) and a sharer is available, then there is no single supplement. The supplement is payable in advance and refunded when we find you a sharer.
Each farmhouse of apartments is quite different. Each has its own swimming pool which is usually open from mid-May to mid-October. If the weather permits, they may be open at other times.
Dining in Italy is a delightful experience. Italians are very proud of their regional cuisine, and Tuscany is no exception. Meals are prepared with the freshest of seasonal ingredients in the restaurant and you will enjoy eating al fresco on the terracotta terrace during the summer months.
Buffet breakfasts are held in the dining room from 8am, and there is a selection of options for everyone, from cereal through to warm croissants and Tuscan bread with salami and cheeses. You can be assured of a top quality Italian coffee to start your day, as well as a selection of fruit juices and tea.
Open April to October.
The Medieval Tuscany ride is on set dates, arriving Saturday, from April to mid-July, and from the end of August through October.
The Heart of Tuscany ride is on set dates, arriving Saturday, from April through October.
Short breaks are available for a minimum of four nights (arrive Saturday, depart Wednesday) except not from mid-July to the end of August.
Castellare di Tonda
Sharing prices are based on two people in either a one bedroom superior apartment or a two bedroom classic apartment with a shared bathroom. The single person price is based on one person in a one bedroom classic apartment.
||HEART OF TUSCANY
|(12 hours of riding)||(c.20 hours of riding)|
|30 Mar - 6 Apr
|7 Apr - 20 Apr
|21 Apr - 27 Apr
|28 Apr - 18 May
|19 May - 13 Jul
|14 Jul - 24 Aug
|25 Aug - 21 Sep
|22 Sep - 4 Nov
INCLUDES Seven nights accommodation; half board; wine with dinner (half bottle per person); riding as per programme; tourist tax; twice weekly apartment cleaning. Medieval Tuscany also includes picnic lunch on three days.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT If you are willing to share a two bedroom apartment (one bathroom) and a sharer is available then the per person sharing price applies. If no sharer is available you will have a one bedroom classic apartment at the single person price and be refunded the difference if we find you a sharer.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Lunches; drinks; optional tips; spa treatments; other activities; transfers.
NEAREST AIRPORT Pisa or Florence
TRANSFERS We can arrange private transfers at a cost of €100 (up to 3 people) / €145 (up to 8 people) per vehicle each way from Pisa or Florence (payable locally). For the Heart of Tuscany we recommend a hire car.
NOT INCLUDED Flights to Pisa or Florence.
In The Saddle Gallery
Located in the hills of Tuscany midway between Florence, Siena and Pisa. The nearest airports are Pisa and Florence, both about one hour by car. We can organise airport transfers or you may prefer to hire a car. We can also arrange transfers from Castelfiorentino train station, about a 20 minute journey.
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