Majestic Majella Explorer

Abruzzo/Molise Italy: (IT-ITMA01)

Abruzzo/Molise Italy
Come explore one of Italy's hidden gems - the Majella National Park!

In a country mainly known for its Tuscan vineyards to the north or Mediterranean-kissed beaches to the south, The Majella National Park is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. It is one of the largest parks in Italy covering 75,000 acres and hosting a variety of landscapes. With the sheer size and restrictions of access to only hikers and horseback riders, you will feel like you have the park to yourself! Thanks to the protection by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, this park has thrived and is home to a large diversity of plants and animals from bears and wolves in the beech forests to chamois and eagles at higher altitudes. This is truly a magical experience where you can find a blissful peace surrounded by wilderness.

One of the highlights is Pescocostanzo, a picturesque medieval town at an altitude of 4,200 feet. Their stunning architecture is well-preserved and sure to interest any riders fond of history. Two nights will be spent in this lovely place. It is surrounded by several plains which invite many to a canter where we can stretch our legs and feel the thrill of speed. You will be staying at various rural hotels during the trip chosen for their charm and hospitality. Locals will greet you with warmth and treat you like family. You will also get to indulge in the best Italian cuisine for each meal and sample local wines. You can easily tell how much their food is made with love. Your guides have great knowledge of the area and are excited to share their passion of horses and nature with you!


This is a progressive ride so nights will be spent in different accommodations. Three nights are spent at the farmhouse and 4 nights are spent in various rural hotels.
All accommodations except the farmhouse have private bathrooms. 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: Hotel in Roccaraso
Night 4 & 5: Hotel in Pescocostanzo
Night 6 & 7: Agriturismo in Alfedena

Farmhouse near Carovilli
Your host welcomes you in his farmhouse, dating from 1885, which is at an elevation of about 3,000 feet (a little over 900m). The house is on the edge of a forest and overlooks a beautiful valley.
The house is not very big, but can comfortably accommodate for up to 8 riders. It has been completely renovated in 2003. There are three guestrooms (two double and one dormitory accommodating six) and two bathrooms. Guests can relax in the living room, by the fireplace. 
If you prefer more privacy, we can arrange for a room (with private bath) in the nearby B&B (8 minutes by car) for an extra charge.

Hotel 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.

Hotel in Pescocostanzo
Thus charming Inn is set in the heart of Pescocostanzi village. The rooms are elegantly furnished and all come equipped with a private bathroom, a TV and a kettle. There is Wi-Fi access in common areas.

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.

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!
You will never go hungry here! Our own testers called the food 'imaginative and delectable' and 'original and sumptuous'!

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.

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 40 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 Level
Riders must be at least 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.

The ride includes 5.5 riding days with long days in the saddle (6-8 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!

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

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.

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.


Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

Day 1 (Saturday): Arrival
You are expected to arrive on Saturday evening at the farmhouse. After a welcome drink there will be dinner with your host/guide.  A three-course Italian dinner will be served every night, accompanied by local wines.
Meals included: Dinner
Overnight at the Farmhouse

Day 2 (Sunday): Introductory Ride
The morning is yours. You may sleep in, take your time over breakfast, do whatever you like. Before lunch, there is a safety-briefing. Then we groom and saddle up the horses, followed by a short demonstration in western riding. After lunch we go for a 3-hour test ride to make sure everyone is comfortable.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Farmhouse

Day 3 (Monday): Ride to Montedimezzo
We leave around 10 o'clock. After riding through a dense forest we cross many fields, where we can canter. We stop for picnic lunch in an idyllic place. After lunch, we pass by the remains of a small Samnite temple. The Samnites were the original population of Molise. The Romans fought a 300-year war before assimilating them to their empire in 79 BC. We eventually arrive at a hill where you can admire the Majella massif. From there, we descend towards Montedimezzo, the ancient hunting reserve of the Bourbons and the nobles of Naples. Today the forest is part of the MAB (Man and Bioshere) project of UNESCO. 
This is where today's ride ends. We stop for a drink at the kiosk while the horses will be loaded on a truck to reach Pietransieri, to spend the night in paddocks. We will go to stay overnight in a nearby hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at a Hotel in Roccaraso

Day 4 (Tuesday): Pietransieri to Pescocostanzo
Today’s destination is the small town of Pescocostanzo. The trail takes us through increasingly high mountains. From there, we have a good view back to the hills of Molise. Up on the pass we stop for a picnic at the Pietra Cernaia, a viewpoint which shows us now a completely different Panorama. We can see Pescocostanzo from there. The village is about 4500 feet above sea level and directly on the steep slopes of the Majella Mountain. The terrain alternates with high plains pastures where we can have some nice canters before arriving in the stable for the horses. Having spent about 6 hours on horseback we are bound to be longing for a drink. Pescocostanzo has a nice square with several bars and restaurants. Taking a walk in this picturesque medieval town is pleasant for everyone and a must for those who are interested in architecture. We are staying at a small and cozy hotel. Dinner is at a restaurant.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at a Hotel in Pescocostanzo

Day 5 (Wednesday): Ride though Majella National Park
The National Park Majella (75000 acres) is one of the biggest in Italy. It is a so-called Pan Park, which means that it is protected by WWF. Here are 30 Mountains over 6500 feet. Today, there will be a 6 hours ride in surrounding highlands. We expect to be able to have nice canters here. The night will be spent at the same hotel. Dinner, however, is at a different restaurant.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at a Hotel in Pescocostanzo

Day 6 (Thursday): Pescocostanzo to Alfedena
This is going to be a demanding day spending about 7-8 hours in the saddle. First we return to Roccaraso, before crossing the plateau along the village of Rivisondoli. We then climb the pass to enter the great valley called Altopiano delle 5 miglia. We follow the edge of the valley and begin to climb the mountain with incredible view of the valley. Once we get to the top, we enter another valley called Aremogna, at an altitude of 1,600 meters. This valley lies under majestic mountains. We stope here to have our picnic. After lunch we follow a path in the woods that slowly leads us to the other side of the mountain. At the exit of the forest opens before us an impressive view of the mountains of Abruzzo and the Molise part of the Park up to the Matese and down the valley of Alfedena which is our destination.
From here, we have to go down the mountain. At some point the riders have to lead the horses on foot. The road is quite rocky up to the village of Scontrone. We climb back in the saddle a little more until we reach the Alfedena valley, where we leave the horses in a paddock. We move by car to Sandra's equestrian center where we can relax at the hotel and dine in her restaurant in the evening.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at an Agriturismo in Alfedena

Day 7 (Friday): Last Ride
Our last ride starts from the town of Alfedena. We then follow the road that leads us to the Lake of the Montagna Spaccata. From here, we begin to climb into the woods until we reach the plateau of Valle Fiorita where we stop for a picnic and to admire the mountains of Mainarde.
After lunch, we go back down to the valley and stop at Sandra's equestrian center where the horses will rest in the paddock and we will spend another night in the same hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at an Agriturismo in Alfedena

Day 8 (Saturday): Departure
Departure after breakfast to Isernia train station.
Meals included: Breakfast

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

Rates and Dates for Majestic Majella Explorer

Rates include:

Accommodations, All meals with wine and beer, 5.5 riding days, Luggage transport, Taxes & Transfer from/to Isenia
There are about 6 extra rain coats which can be borrowed. First come, first served!

Packages and Options

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:

2023 Snacks and drinks fee (mandatory)
- to be paid locally
40 $40
2023 Single supplement
- to be paid locally
105 $110
2023 Transfer from/to Isernia train station included at set times (19:45 pickup) 0 $0
2023 Surcharge for riders over 85 kilos
- to be paid locally
150 $155

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Gratuities, Snacks & Drinks between meals (a collective Euro 40 per rider is to be paid locally to purchase these for the group)

Other Info
Meeting: Carovilli
Airport: Naples
Transfer: Isernia Train Station

                                                Vastogirardi area














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Source: NOAA

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