Nature Park Rides

Abruzzo/Molise Italy: (IT-ITAB01)
URL: https://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/italy_abruzzo_park_horseback_trips.aspx

Introduction
Abruzzo/Molise Italy
This exciting new trip starts out in the Province of Isernia in the region of  Molise and ventures into the Abruzzo region just north of there. This is a region largely forgotten by the tourist hordes that you can find in Tuscany or Amalfi  - even the local Italian travelers have jet not discovered the "Jewel in the Rough". It offers untouched nature and  breathtaking mountain vistas. Because of its mountainous terrain, the economy of the region has for centuries been highly dependent on the transit of shepherds and their flocks from Abruzzo to Puglia. We follow their paths across the hills and through the valleys on our two wonderful mountain treks. This part of Italy is so unspoiled that UNESCO protects two forests as part of the project MAB (Man And Biosphere). This spacious, green and clean region with its large woods of beach and oak, meadows and rivers is ideal for a holiday on horseback. The tack is Western, but Western riding experience is not required. The horses are mostly easy going and reliable Quarter horses.

Our two treks will take you into two National Parks - Parco Nazionale della Majella and Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo

Parco Nazionale della Majella
This 75,000 acre park is one of the biggest in Italy. It is a so-called Pan Park, which means that it is protected by World Wildlife Fund.  One of the highlights is Pescocostanzo, a picturesque medieval town at an altitude of  5,200 feet. Two nights will be spent in this lovely place. It is surrounded by several plains which invite to many nice canters.

Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo
This 50.000 acre park, founded in 1922, has still plenty of wildlife. There are wolves, bears, eagles, deer and many more species. In the Valley of Five Miles we enjoy a long canter before we climb up to 6,300 feet the next day to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views over the mountains and valleys. There are not many places left in Europe where you can feel so completely in the middle of nowhere. On Thursday there will be a picnic in Camosciara, which is one of the most protected areas of this National Park.
 

Accomodation

Accommodations
This is a progressive ride, so nights will be spent in different locations. You will be staying in 4 different locations total.

Description
The accommodations have been selected for full cultural immersion in Italy. Each location boasts personality and most importantly, family. While not grand, we offer cozy comfortable accommodations full of life and stories.
Most of the accommodations do have WIFI access on this trip. There are no laundry facilities available on this trip.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1 & 2: Farmhouse
Night 3: Agriturismo (2 options) in San Petro Avellana
Night 4 & 5: Hotel Holidays in Roccaraso
Night 6: Agriturismo in Alfedena
Night 7: Farmhouse

Farmhouse
The farmhouse, dating from 1885, is situated at almost 3,000 feet above sea level. The house is at the edge of a forest and overlooks a beautiful valley. The nearest neighbours live in Carovilli, a little village 4 miles away. The front of the house faces a large oak forest whereas the rear offers a splendid view of the mountains and a valley.
The house is not very big, but quite comfortable. It was completely renovated in 2003. The living-room has a nice fireplace, a piano, and a modest library. There is 1 double room upstairs and a dormitory with four single beds and one double bed downstairs. There are 2 bathrooms with all modern conveniences.
** If you do prefer more privacy on these days, we can arrange for a room (with private bath) in the nearby B&B (8 minutes drive by car) with a supplemental charge - transfers are provided. Or if you are the last riders to book (numbers 9 and 10) you will be accommodated there as well and will have to pay this supplement.

Agriturismo Option 1 in San Petro Avellana
This lovely yellow house is located in the center of the small mountain village. It offers spacious bedrooms; all fitted with a TV, free Wi-Fi access, a private bathroom and a balcony. There is also a small patio where guest can relax and enjoy the dolce vita.

Agriturismo Option 2 in San Petro Avellana
This complex includes various guesthouses, that are all historic village houses, recently restored in order to offer comfortable accommodations. The houses are tastefully decorated and all have a free Wi-Fi access, a TV and a fireplace. Each bedroom has its own bathroom.

Hotel Holidays in Roccaraso
This hotel offers basic accommodation and great views of the surrounding mountains. All the rooms come with a TV, free Wi-Fi access and private facilities with hairdryer.

Agriturismo in Alfedena
This Agriturismo is located at the foot of the Montagna Spaccata Lake, on the edge of the Abruzzo National Park. It offers 9 rustic style bedrooms, each fitted with a TV, free Wi-Fi access and a private bathroom with hairdryer and toiletries.

Room Occupancy
If we are unable to find another rider to share the room with you, a single supplement fee applied.
Single room accommodations are subject to availability.


Meals
All meals are included for this trip from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8.

You can be assured that at all these destinations you will be comfortable and very well fed. The food is wonderful with great care being taken to provide local specialties cooked with fresh ingredients.  Carmine used to own a restaurant and this is apparent from the wonderful recipes he shares with his guests. The tiramisu is the very best!

Breakfast is usually 'continental'. Expect a lot of delicious pasta, salads, cheese, and bread. You will also taste the juiciest, sweetest tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, tasty salami, and other delights like tiramisu and fresh peaches.
Lunchtime often consists of salami, cheese, and bread picnic-style, accompanied with a glass of crisp wine.
You will never go hungry here! Our own testers called the food 'imaginative and delectable' and 'original and sumptuous'!

Wines and beers are included during meals. All other drinks must be paid for.

Fund for refreshments and snacks
For the trek we collect Euro 30 per person to go into a mutual fund for refreshments on our way plus drinks and snacks other than at meals.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to all dietary restrictions with prior notice.

This trip includes some wine with dinner and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Parco Nazionale della Maiella
Pescocostanzo is surrounded by several high-lands where you can canter a lot. In June we are not allowed to ride everywhere we like, because the farmers have to get the hay. Still, there are several canters. In October, however, on Wednesday all the canters together last about one hour. On Thursday morning another very long canter awaits before picnic. And on Friday morning another long one (same ride as the Friday during “Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo”).
This trek is not suited for riders who suffer from problems with their legs or knees. On Thursday afternoon we have to descend a mountain chain and go on foot for 10 minutes.

Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo
The days in the saddle are rather long. Therefore this trail is not recommended to less experienced riders. As we are in the (high) mountains there are not too many canters. Two of them, however, are fantastic! On Tuesday morning we canter through the Five Mile Valley and on Friday morning there also is a canter of several miles.

Riding hours
Majella:    You ride 6 to 8 hours per full riding day.
Abruzzo:  You ride 7 to 9 hours per full riding day.
This is an adventurous trail for the fit rider. It is quite a strenuous trail but the rewards are magnificent.

Riding Level
Riders must be at least good intermediate level to attend this ride. This means you are able to control a horse at ALL gaits, can mount and dismount unassisted, and are in good physical condition. There are areas where you will need to dismount and lead your horse. Therefore, you need to be in good shape.
We ride with western tack but experience in western riding is not required.

Pace
The ride includes 5.5 riding days with long days in the saddle (6-9 hours). The horses have to climb and go down a lot. Therefore, the pace is generally not very fast. However, in the plateaus and in the valleys we make long canters. The safety of the rider and that of the horse is of paramount importance to us!

Tack
We use western saddles. All saddles have a little saddle bag on the horn.

Horses
The horses have been selected for their character, looks, and intelligence (mix of American Quarter Horses, cross-breeds, Haflinger, Appaloosa. Paint). The horses are willing and easy-going. They were all born in the mountains, so they are very reliable.
All year-long, they live in a herd which makes them a close group- besides, most of them are related in some way or the other. They can choose from the paddocks around the house or the stable, which is at a distance of 30 feet from the house.
The horses are trained gently and with a lot of patience.

Guide
Carmine is a certified FISE (Federazione Italiana Sport Equestre) guide. He speaks Italian and English.

Age Restriction
We require all riders to be 12 years if traveling with and adult or 16 years if traveling alone.

Itinerary

Sample Itinerary- subject to changes

Day 1: Saturday
You are expected to arrive on Saturday evening at the farm-house. After a welcome drink there will be dinner with your host/guides. A three-course Italian dinner will be served every night, accompanied by local wines.

Day 2: Sunday
The morning is yours to enjoy. You may sleep in, take your time over breakfast, do whatever you like. Before lunch there is a safety-briefing. Then we also groom and saddle up the horses, followed by a short demonstration in western riding. After lunch we do a test-ride (3 hours) to enable you to get acquainted with the horse you are going to ride on the trek. In the evening we visit the new riding centre included a bistro from our host close by and get served dinner in the bistro.

Day 3: Monday
After breakfast we get in the saddle and ride through large stretches of wood and fields until we reach our picnic place, Campo Lungo. Here we can listen to exciting stories from our host he knows from that place. After lunch, we pass the remains of a Samnitic temple. In the afternoon we arrive at our destination for today, the horses go into a paddock and we return by car to the farm-house and cook a nice dinner.

Day 4: Tuesday
In the morning we are transferred back to the horses and at about 11:00 A.M. the ride will start. We follow the Tratturo Celano-Foggia. A Tratturo is a 2000 years old track that is still used to move cattle from the far south where grass is scarce in summer. We continue along the Tratturo as far as the river Sangro. Here the Tratturo begins to be very wild and quite overgrown leaving us narrow paths to follow. The horses stay overnight at a riding centre, which also features a restaurant. We will enjoy dinner there before heading for a nearby hotel for the night.

Day 5: Wednesday
Today’s destination is the town of Roccararso . The trail takes us through increasingly high mountains. Arriving at the top of the pass we have a picnic and can enjoy two very different panoramas. Looking back we have the hilly landscape of Molise. In front of us the Majella National Park welcomes us with its high mountains and vast valleys. At the end of the afternoon we canter through one of these valleys. We will sleep in Roccararso for the next two nights. It is a locally well-known skiing-resort. Dinner will be at our hotel.

Day 6: Thursday
Today we enter the Abruzzo National Park. The first part of the trail leads us to the Piano delle cinque Miglia (the Valley of the five Miles). Here we enjoy a long canter! At the end of the valley tall mountains loom up at either side. A gravel road takes us to the Montagna Spaccata (split mountain) where benches under old oak trees tempt us to stop. Then we turn left and the scenery becomes different, a bit like a lunar landscape with a little lake. At the end of the day a skiing track takes us down the mountain. The horses will be left at the stables and the riders go back to the hotel. Having spent about 7 hours on horseback we are bound to be longing for a drink in there. Later we meet for dinner in another restaurant.

Day 7: Friday
We leave the Two Parks and start going to Roccacinquemiglia, a town where the time seems to stand still. Nearby we have a picnic before we go downhill to the valley of the river Sangro again. But now we follow the river along the Park of the town with the same name, Castel di Sangro. Here the inhabitants can find some outdoor activities. Now the last stage of the week starts. Our destination is Sandra’s riding centre in Alfedena where we and the horses find comfortable accommodations. But at least lets enjoy a canter before we pass the town and arriving for a dinner with Pizza!.

Day 8: Saturday
Departure after breakfast from Alfedena to Isernia (transfer at extra cost).

Due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances the program may have to be adapted.


Rates and Dates for Nature Park Rides

Rates include:

7 nights accommodations (3 at farm dormitory and 4 at country hotels), meals with wine and beer, 5.5 riding days, luggage transport, transfer from/to Isenia, taxes

Packages and Options




* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionEUR~US$
2019 Transfer from the Isernia train station included at set times (19:45 pickup, 0850 drop-off) 0 $0
2019 Single supplement
- to be paid locally
105 $125

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Gratuities, snacks and drinks between meals (a collective Euro 30 per rider is to be paid locally to purchase these for the group).

Other Info
Meeting: Isernia
Airport: Rome or Naples
Transfer: Isernia train station at 7:45 PM - drop off 9:30 AM on last day

Climate:
                                                Vastogirardi area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

38

39

45

51

60

68

74

74

66

57

47

40

Average Low Temperature (°F)

29

29

33

38

46

53

58

58

52

45

37

31

Average High Temperature (°C)

4

4

7

11

16

20

23

24

19

14

8

4

Average Low Temperature (°C)

-1

-2

0

3

8

12

14

15

11

7

3

0

Average Precipitation (days of rain)

6

6

6

6

4

4

2

3

5

5

6

6

Source: NOAA


Seasons
Rainfall is most frequent and heaviest in late autumn and early spring, though of short duration, but lasts longer in winter, with peak levels in November and the lowest levels in July.

The annual average temperature varies from 8°-12° in the mountainous area to 12°-16° in the maritime area; in both areas the difference can be quite extreme and take you completely by surprise.  January and February are the coldest month. In the mountains, it can often drop below zero and an open-fire is very welcome to counter the nip in the air.

Spring (March - May)
Situated at a latitude of about 42°, Majella National Park benefits of a considerable insolation with pleasant days, although sometimes windy, with average temperatures round 12° C, at midday, at 1,500m above sea level. In this period, the western slopes free from snow are covered by spectacular flowerings. The upper part of the mountain retains a significant snow covering until May. Until this period, hiking is favoured by a type of snow consolidated by the alternation of daytime insolation and considerable night-time cooling.

Summer (June - August)
The summer season within Majella National Park can be identified into three different climatic situations: a temperate-cool area – up to 1,000 m above sea level ­– with an average temperature between 15° and 20° C; a temperate-cold area – comprised between 1,000 m - 2,400 m above sea level – with an average temperature around 10° C; and finally a cold area ­– extending above 2,400 m above sea level – with average temperatures lower than 10° C.
Usually summer precipitation consists of thunderstorms that often cause a significant drop in temperature. In general, the average temperatures allow for pleasant hikes at altitudes above 1,500 meters, but walking tours are also possible below this height, especially under the beech canopies extending almost throughout the basal areas and crossed by hiking trails, thus encouraging the visit even during the hottest hours of the day.

Autumn (September – November)
From September to October the weather tends to be clear, with very cool nights and possible snowfalls on the highest peaks. Days get shorter while the landscape changes with the beech forests assuming the characteristic spectacular autumn shades.
This is perhaps the most stable period (also due to calm winds), facilitating also cultural-oriented excursions to the hermitages as well as to the piedmont villages.

Winter (December – February)
In winter, the prevailing winds are those coming from the North and provoking significant drops in temperature and heavy rainfalls. From December to March the heavy snowfalls give way to clear sunny days with temperatures touching 10° C. In December, January and February temperatures often drop below 0° C at night within those area overpassing 1,500 m above sea level. The visibility is generally good, allowing views up to 100 km in the distance towards the Adriatic Sea coast, Gran Sasso, Velino-Sirente and Laga massifs as well as towards the northern part of the nearby Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park.

What To Bring:
Please bring your luggage in a soft bag or canvas nylon.
  • riding hat (a riding hat is obligatory for minors and strongly recommended for adults)
  • trousers or jeans without thick seams
  • shoes/boots with solid profile
  • warm clothing (nights are chilly in the mountains, even in summer)
  • (long) chaps
  • rainwear
  • gloves
  • pocket-knife
  • electric torch
  • sun-glasses
  • sun-cream
  • camera
  • personal medication (if any)
  • comfortable shoes (for the evenings)
  • paper tissues
  • adaptor