Western in Tuscany

Tuscany Italy: (IT-ITVALCH)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/italy_tuscany_western_trail.aspx

Introduction
Tuscany Italy
A ride through the history and nature of Tuscany.

The mystical beauty of the hill country surrounding Florence has always been a special place. For those that wish to explore beautiful the beautiful region on horseback, but prefer a Western style of riding, we have put together these most relaxing and lovely treks that explore the Chianti, Monte Giovi mountain range and many of the vineyards in the vicinity of Florence. The villa offers horse lovers a typical farmhouse made of stone, surrounded by verdant green pastures and the beautiful Tuscan olive groves from which the farm makes their own olive oil. The house originated from a watch tower which once belonged to the Guidi Counts during the 11th Century and guests are welcomed into a friendly, calm and relaxed country atmosphere, far removed from the formality of hotels in the city.  Combining  a relaxing Western equestrian experience with the wonderful and rustic ambiance of the farm and the excellent Tuscan style Italian cuisine - you will be delighted in every sense during your stay!

Our partner has organized popular riding holidays for over 20 years now. Franco Melis – a skilled guide and horseman with many years of experience – runs this beautiful estate situated in the Italian province of Pontassieve, only 20 kilometres from Florence. The centre is well known in Italy and throughout Europe for its quality horses and guides. His rides take place in the midst of their typical Tuscan countryside - olives, vines and woods surrounding charming farms, villas, and ancient towers and castles. You can opt for daily "star rides",  the stationary program, or a combination of 3 days at the farm followed by a 3 day trek creating a progressive itinerary. 
 

Accomodation

The country estate offers horse lovers a typical charming stone farmhouse surrounded by green pastures and beautiful olive groves from which the center makes its own olive oil. The house is a refurbished watch tower which once belonged to the Guidi Counts in the 11th century. Guests are welcomed into a friendly, calm and relaxed atmosphere.

There are six bedrooms, each with 2-5 beds. The rustic rooms are very spacious – typical of old Tuscan rural homes. There are three bathrooms to share between the rooms.

All guests dine together, either indoors or on the outside terrace that offers stunning views of the Florentine countryside. Available is a wide variety of authentic Tuscan country cooking, and the cook, a Tuscan woman named Luisa, is always happy to satisfy the culinary wishes of the guests. The center is renowned for its great range of pasta dishes and the tables are never lacking in olive oil or flasks of Chianti! We plan every meal balancing them with different typical recipes and the seasonal genuine ingredients. The menu is simple and tasty!

When you are not riding you can relax in the green surrounding at the center or walk up to Camorli (2.5 km) and relax at the pool!

During the cross country trekking riders sleep in typical, clean and well kept farmhouses, and in the evening enjoy a meal of traditional local dishes. In some of these houses double rooms are available. Bathrooms are on a shared basis. One overnight on the "Vallombrosa Trail" is in a very rustic setting, but it makes up for it with its charming owner and conductor of classical music. This is not a trail for people looking for luxury, but you will love the genuine atmosphere so typical of Tuscany.

The riding center is 20 km/12.5 miles from the center of Florence, so you can easily visit one of the most famous art centers in the world during the week.
A one hour drive away are the famous cities of Arezzo, San Gimignano, Siena.
The closest village is Pontassieve - 6 km - with a colorful market on Wednesday morning.
Our hosts belong to the Strade del vino Chianti Rufina: we suggest to visit the cellars with wine tasting in the neighborhood.
Shopping is available at outlets with many famous Italian brands, half an hour drive.

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

Riding

Riding Experience

Riders should be able to mount and dismount unassisted, stay in the saddle up to 4-5 hours per day for several consecutive days. They are also expected to be comfortable at all gaits and lead their horses when needed.
To take part in our treks, rather than a vast experience with horses, you need to be in good physical shape and have a desire to spend a holiday with people and horses, and rest assured that you will be guided and assisted by professionals.

Tack
Our horses are all trained western style by Franco, although English saddle is also available. During trails, horses are equipped with saddlebags to carry the daily picnic lunch.

Pace
The pace is adapted to the trails. It is moderate in general, with trot, canters and gallops when possible. Each day we cover between 25 and 30 kilometers, averaging 5-7 hours per day, including a stop for a lunch.

Riding Helmet
We supply riding helmets. For your safety, we recommend to ride with a helmet. Riders under 18 will not be allowed to ride without wearing a helmet.

Horses
The well-being and sound preparation of our horses is of prime importance to us. Our horses are all carefully selected by us for their good nature and trekking ability and we have horses suitable for all riding abilities. They are well-balanced because of the natural way of their maintenance, living together outside in herds. The horses are secure on any kind of terrain and well trained for lessons in the arena.
Our stables has 35 horses of different breeds (Maremma, Quarter horse, Sardinian, Anglo-Arab), all of which have been trained or re-trained following the principles of “natural horsemanship” to guarantee maximum physical and psychological condition and reliability.
Our horses are not restricted to lonely stables but live altogether outside in the fields, which allows them to remain healthy, both physically and mentally. Their diet is constantly monitored and their work regime adapted individually according to age and condition.
The same attention is given to the relationship between horses and riders, so as to guarantee each guest the best suited workmate, offering also the possibility of using a variety of horses throughout the holiday. Our riding philosophy is based on mutual respect and confidence between the horses and the riders.

Guides
Trekking groups are accompanied by a guide over the whole journey, and another person that meets the group in the evening with the rucksacks and necessary equipment. A first-aid kit accompanies all trips, but you should not forget personal medicines, for example those for allergies.

Itinerary

Sample Itineraries - Subject to changes.

The Treks
Our one-week trekking programs include three days at the equestrian centre with 6 hours riding, followed by a three-day trek. On each of the first three mornings, 2 hours of riding are split between lessons and hacking. It is possible to add more riding hours for these first 3 days. 
Trekking groups consist of between 6 and 9 people and are accompanied by a guide over the entire journey, and another one that rejoins them in the evening with the luggage and necessary equipment. Each day we cover between 25 and 30 kilometres, averaging 5-7 hours per day, including a stop for a lunch which is prepared fresh each morning and carried in saddlebags. The riders sleep in typical, clean and well kept farmhouses, and in the evening enjoy a meal of traditional local dishes. In some of these houses double rooms are available - in others, the rooms are multiple. The horses stay in paddocks or stables close by. 

Saturday Settling in dinner
Sunday 2 hours riding - lesson and hack
Monday 2 hours riding
Tuesday 2 hours riding
Wednesday trek
Thursday trek
Friday trek
Saturday farewell and departure

Two Progressive Trail options:

MONTE GIOVI TRAIL 
The Monte Giovi is a mountain range in the vicinity of Florence, which reaches an altitude of 982 metres. Thanks to both its extraordinary natural beauty and the historical sources dating from Etruscan and Roman times up until the recent partisan war found here, Monte Giovi is one of the most valued beauty spots in Tuscany. The name comes from Latin, being the Sacred Mountain dedicated to Jupiter. The Monte Giovi is a national Park with a protected area of 19,000 hectares.
On Saturday, arrival and settling in at the farm. On Sunday you start with a lesson in the schooling arena, followed by a hack out in the surrounding countryside. On Monday and Tuesday we take you out on rides in the hills, and come back to the farm.
On Wednesday you will set off for the trek, on horseback all day and provided with a packed lunch. The night will be spent in an inn situated in the mountain forests.
Passing through the Chianti vineyards, we follow the River Sieve past the village of Rufina - famous for its wines - and forge the river twice.  We climb to the top of the mountain (982m) range along age-old wooded paths and on reaching the top will be astounded by breath-taking views of the whole of the Chianti valley, the valley of the Arno and of Mugello.
The ride back to the farm is a dive into the landscapes and nature of a Tuscany unknown to mass tourism but rich with pleasant surprises such as the villa and chapel of Petroio, a tiny 12th Century hamlet perfectly conserved. On the last day the picnic will be consumed on the banks of a fresh-water lake. 

COLLINE DI FIESOLE TRAIL
A trek, which passes over the Tuscany hills, through ancient vineyards and olive groves, with visits to traditional wine cellars. This trek is based very much on the area surrounding Vallebona, in the centre of the Rufina and Pomino Chianti wine area. It is an ideal small trek, also for those who wish to combine riding with rest, sport with culture. Trail: Saturday arrival and settling in to the farm. Sunday we start with a lesson in the arena and then a hack in the surrounding countryside.
Over the following days, Monday and Tuesday, we will take you for rides around the farm. The first three days you will return to the farm in the evenings, and be greeted by the typical cuisine of our cook.
Wednesday will see the start of the trekking, with all-day rides and pauses for picnic lunch. You will stay overnight in a charming "Agriturismo" belonging to friends of ours, in a perfect farming style, situated 10km from Fiesole .
During the trek you will visit the famous Villa Demidoff and its monumental Park, and stop for lunch at Castello del Trebbio, where we will also visit the cellars for a "wine tasting".

--The above sample itineraries are subject to changes at the tour operator's discretion--


Rates and Dates for Western in Tuscany

Rates include:

7 nights accommodations (5 nights in private double occupancy rooms with shared bath at riding center and 2 nights at local farmhouse inns on the trail), all meals with table wine, 1 wine tasting, 6 horse riding days of different lengths (2 to 6 hours in saddle per day)

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    A
    20198 day trip, AP - Colline Di Fiesole€1015$1220
  • B
    20198 day trip, AP - Monte Giovi Trail€955$1145
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.2

Rates Note:

Single rooms are on special request only and may not be available at all the accommodations, so please inquire first for availability and cost!

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Rates Note:

Single rooms are on special request only and may not be available at all the accommodations, so please inquire first for availability and cost!


Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionEUR~US$
2019 Transfer from Pontassieve train station, return, pp
- to be paid locally
45 $55
2019 Private taxi transfer from Florence airport (please inquire for rates)
- to be paid locally
0 $0
2019 Private taxi transfer from Pisa airport (please inquire for rates)
- to be paid locally
0 $0
2019 Tourist tax, pp 6 $10
2019 Single supplement 200 $240
2019 Discount for room division (3-4 people per room) -55 $-65
2019 Discount for children 10 - 16 years old -- please inquire 0 $0

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
B 2019 09/07 - 09/14 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP - Monte Giovi... 4 /12 Expired
B 2019 09/21 - 09/28 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP - Monte Giovi... 4 /12 Reserve

Dates Note:

Other Info
Meeting: Pontassieve
Airport: Florence
Transfer: Pontassieve train station, Florence Airport or Pisa Airport

Climate:
                                                Florence area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

52

54

60

67

75

83

89

89

81

70

59

52

Average Low Temperature (°F)

36

37

42

46

54

60

65

65

59

52

43

37

Average High Temperature (°C)

11

12

16

19

24

28

32

32

27

21

15

11

Average Low Temperature (°C)

2

3

5

8

12

16

18

18

15

11

6

3

Source: NOAA


Seasons
To avoid the heat, it’s best to visit in spring and autumn. During the peak summer months of July and August, the weather can be very hot, but it still gets cooler in the evenings, as the riding center is located in the mountains. Autumn sees the countryside glow with abundance of wild mushrooms and just-pressed olive oil. The winters are not too chilly with the lowest expected temperatures in the peak of winter being around 0°C / 32°F.

What To Bring:
What To Bring – recommended!

    * Riding Hat: A hat is essential for protection from rain and sun. Hard hats are compulsory for under 18's. If possible, take your own or we can lend you one
    * Riding Trousers: for the western saddle cow boy jeans are ideal – they are flatly seamed and are particularly long in the leg. Jodhpurs are fine if worn with half chaps.
    * Long sleeve tops: Lightweight long sleeve tops protect from the sun and from scratches from branches and undergrowth.
    * Footwear: The correct footwear is important for riding. We use light walking boots, high on the ankle, not too big. Ideally, short boots or gym shoes should be worn with half chaps. We do not recommend riding boots with a smooth sole.
    * Waterproof jacket
    * Ear plugs: can be useful in shared accommodation
    * Warm sweater
    * Hat:  to protect from sun and rain
    * Swim costume, suncream, sun glasses
    * Insect repellent: recommended in July, August and September
    * Ear plugs: can be useful when sharing the room with other people
    * a first-aid kit accompanies all trips, but you should not forget personal medicines, for example those for allergies.
    * Sensible underwear: be sensible with underwear - dress for comfort. Torch, penknife
    * We provide 2 towels - you may need an extra one
    * Electricity 220 V, you need an European adaptor
    * And don't forget to bring your camera
    * Insurance documents: It's important to make sure you are insured for all the activities of your riding holiday. Our insurance pays for damages depending on our acknowledged responsibility of the accident. Payment is authorised following a request for damages to be considered by the insurance company. A personal policy is different in that it always pays you out according to your agreed contract. This is what we advise you to do. Be aware that occasionally personal policies exclude dangerous sports such as riding, but by warning the company you can include it.