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Horse Riding Holiday in Italy

Experience a Tuscan paradise where you can ride, cycle, walk, sightsee, or simply relax with a glass of Chianti wine. Situated at a thousand feet above sea level on the slopes of the Chianti hills, Rendola Riding is a small organic farm with marvelous views over the Arno Valley. Only 50 km from Florence, it is easy to reach by car or train, but when you arrive you feel that you are entering a different world!

Key information

  • Rider weight limit: 85 kilograms / 187 lbs.
  • Tack type: English

Highlights

  • 5 days with horse riding, 1.5 to 5 hours of riding per day
  • Experience frequent canters through the vineyards
  • Horse riding through medieval villages
  • Visit a local farm and see how cheese is made, wine tasting at Fattoria Casabianca
  • Sample some homemade jams at a local farmhouse
  • Afternoon cooking lesson with Isabella
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Daily meals

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Styles


5 days with instruction
Group size: 2-6 participants
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Accommodation

The house where guests stay has a wonderful view over the Arno valley. Outside it has the typical characteristics of a seventeenth-century farmhouse (actually parts of it may be older), with its small tower, arches, outside staircase, and a balcony adorned with geraniums; while inside the floors are of terracotta and the ceilings have oak or chestnut beams.

Rendola Riding has six bedrooms for guests, each with its own bathroom. They are mostly on the small side, but the curtains and bedspreads are brightly colored (why are they a dismal brown in so many hotels?), and there are pictures on the walls and shelves full of books, mostly in English. In each bedroom, there is information about local places of interest.

In the evening guests can gather in the comfortable sitting room to read, chat and, when the weather is cool, enjoy the log fire.

If you wake up early in the morning and look out of the window, you will see horses grazing peacefully among the olives in front of the house.

You will hear birdsong (in Spring nightingales sing night and day), smell the delicate perfume of wisteria and jasmine, and possibly a whiff of manure as well.

Program

Itinerary

Saturday

Arrival at the 18th-century farmhouse of Rendola Riding in the afternoon. A welcome glass of Chianti wine with your host Jenny is followed by a typical Tuscan dinner prepared by Isabella (cook and housekeeper).

Sunday

Breakfast, followed by a morning ride with your English-speaking guide Eraldo (responsible for the riding center) through vineyards, olive groves, and extensive woodland; return to the farmhouse and lunch.

In the afternoon, cooking lesson with Isabella, preparing dishes such as pasta fresca, ravioli, ragù “bolognese” and strawberries ice cream or tiramisù for dinner.

Monday

Breakfast and morning ride with breathtaking views of the Valdarno Valley and frequent canters through the vineyards.

After lunch, visit the farm of Alessandro to discover how Tuscan pecorino cheese is made (and to taste it of course!), followed by wine tasting at Fattoria Casabianca, with Aldo’s top-quality wine and award-winning Vin Santo. Dinner at home.

Tuesday

Breakfast and day ride with Eraldo in the Chianti hills south of Rendola, passing the medieval village of San Leolino, the Castle of Cennina, a pretty lake, with picnic nearby. Back home past the Castle of Lupinari with frequent canters (approx. 5 hours in the saddle throughout the day). Dinner at home.

Wednesday (free day)

Breakfast. This will be a free day to simply relax and laze around, take a train to visit Florence, Arezzo, and Assisi, or engage in other activities we can suggest, such as: a trip with the qualified hiking guide Francesco to visit the spectacular “balze del Valdarno”; a guided e-bike tour; a walk through the countryside with Jenny; a workshop with Isabella to paint your personal pottery mug; a “truffle hunt” in the early morning with our friend Luigi and his dog. Dinner at home.

Thursday

Breakfast, followed by a visit to the local street market, with typical Italian food, “porchetta”, cheese, and fresh vegetables for your lunch. In the afternoon, after a short ride (one hour and a half), a short walk to a local farmhouse to sample some homemade jams and visit the “Museo della civiltà Contadina” (Museum of Rural Culture).Dinner at home.

Friday

Breakfast, followed by a final day ride (approx 5 hours of riding throughout the day) with a stop to visit the typical medieval village of Montegonzi, with a light lunch at the local “osteria”. In the afternoon, leisurely ride home to Rendola for a rest and a nice cup of English tea, in the sitting room with your hostess.

In the evening, a special farewell dinner.

Saturday

Breakfast and a short journey to Montevarchi station to meet the train, back to Florence or Rome.

Note:

  • The programs have a degree of flexibility for your leisure, and some details may change due to weather or specific events such as grape harvest.
  • Accompanying non-riders are welcome and various alternative activities can be organized. Send an inquiry to Rendola Riding Holiday Centre for more information.

Location

Food

At Rendola Riding you will enjoy delicious Tuscan cooking, known throughout the world, at its very best.

The farmhouse is at the center of a small organic farm of about twelve acres. It has over three hundred olive trees and produces all the extra-virgin olive oil used in the kitchen.

Here are just a few of our dishes, which cannot all be translated as there is no English equivalent: pappardelle al ragù, ravioli al tartufo, crostini, risotto al Chianti, pappa al pomodoro, arista di maiale, coniglio in umido con fagiolini, tiramisù, zuccotto gelato.

All meals are served with the local Chianti wine and sometimes you will get a chance to sample the famous Chianti Classico with the black rooster on its label. White wine will be supplied on request.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Walking and cycling

You are lucky that several waymarked “CAI” trails, all numbered and with the traditional red and white markings, radiate from the Centre. These can be followed on foot or by mountain bike. You can find one directly behind the farmhouse: follow the mule track winding up through oak and chestnut woods and when you get to the top of the ridge you will have panoramic views over both the Arno Valley and the Chianti region. Another trail leads you over gentle hills down to the town of Montevarchi.

After a meal or a snack in Via Roma, the main street, you can return by a different trail, passing the old church, now abandoned, of San Tommé.

Another route passes through a nearby village, Mercatale Valdarno, then takes you up to the solitary tower of Galatrona, an imposing landmark visible from the Centre.

From the tower, you can follow the wooded ridge until you go down towards the castle of Cennina. After visiting the castle you can descend to the valley and return home by dirt roads and quiet lanes.

A half-an-hour’s journey by car will take you to Le Balze, weird geological formations made of sand, clay, and pebble strata dating from prehistorical times, when the Arno valley was a great lake whose banks were populated by dinosaurs, the fossils of which can be found in the Palaeontological Museum in Montevarchi, together with those of exotic animals from a later epoch.

Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated by these formations: not only did he leave us a detailed description of them, but he also included them in his paintings, for example Mona Lisa and Madonna of the Rocks.

And if you want to escape the torrid heat of summer, you can drive up to the summit of Pratomagno (1591 m at its highest point) and walk or cycle along the undulating pastures of this long ridge, with its stunning views over the Casentino and Arno valleys: a grassy paradise that is far from the haunts of mass tourism.

As a base, Rendola Riding is ideal for road-bikers as well, as it is on the edge of the Chianti Classico region where there is a network of lanes that are well kept but very quiet as they run through the vineyards and woodland of this famously beautiful area.

You can visit Radda, the “capital” of Chianti, or the charming walled village of San Gusmè, with its wonderful view of the towers of Siena. Or you can sample one of the most celebrated wines of the world at the castle of Brolio and Meleto, or the winery of Cantalici near Castagnoli.

Back in the Arno valley do not miss the Etruscan-Roman road Cassia Vetus (Setteponti), which runs for many miles along the base of Pratomagno. It is an itinerary beloved of cyclists (there are many local ones, too), because they meet little traffic, the road is level most of the way and the views over the Arno valley and the Chianti hills are breathtaking.

If you have not brought your bicycles they can be hired locally, but do give Rendola Riding Holiday Centre due warning.

Rendola Riding Holiday Centre can provide picnic lunches for walkers and cyclists, but please let them know in advance so that they can get some nice, fresh bread.

Sightseeing

Rendola Riding is in the middle of ‘the golden triangle” formed by the art cities of Florence (50 km), Arezzo (30 km) and Siena(48 km), all reachable by public transport. From here you can also explore by car the Chianti region and the Casentino valley, both full of history and natural beauty.

Or you can discover Toscana minore, fascinating places which are not visited by the average tourist. For example, there is the Roseto di Cavriglia, the largest collection of roses in Europe and a must-see for keen gardeners; The Abbey of Coltibuono where you can visit the cellars and gardens and do some wine-tasting; the village of Loro Ciuffenna with its medieval bridge and working mill; the Romanesque church of Gropina with its ninth-century pulpit; the agricultural museum of Gaville, with its eighteenth-century olive press, and much else.

Jenny knows the city of Arezzo well and in particular the famous frescoes by Piero della Francesca in the Basilica of St. Francis; if you wish she would be happy to show them to you, as there is no English-speaking guide provided in the church. She can also show you the main sights of Florence.

Shopping

Are you interested in “lo shopping”? Note that Italians use the English word only when it is a question of a spree, not of laying in provisions for your next meal! Well, every Thursday morning there is a large market in Montevarchi where an expert eye can pick up real bargains.

While on the first Sunday of the month, there is an important antique fair at Arezzo (30 km).

Are you fashion-conscious? There is a Prada outlet only 4 km away, while at The Mall in Incisa Valdarno, you can buy on the cheap (it’s all relative) the creations of Valentino, Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo and so on.

And if you want to take home some of the local produce, there is no better place than the covered market at Montevarchi, where every day you can buy produce directly from the farmer: olive oil, wine, salamis, sheep cheese, honey and the vegetables of the season.

What's included

  • 5 days with horse riding
  • Activities as outlined in the itinerary
  • Meals
  • 7 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers
  • Train tickets
  • Expenses incurred on a free day

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Driving direction from Milan

  • Get on to the main motorway that runs down the whole peninsula from Milan to the South, the Autostrada del Sol.
  • Leave the motorway at Exit number 25, Valdarno.
  • Drive to the center of Montevarchi.
  • Follow the road signs for Mercatale Valdarno but before you get there, turn right towards the little village of Rendola (one kilometer), where you will see the signboard on the left.
  • The center is 200 meters from the village.

Arrival by train

Please note that the train travel in Italy is pleasant and is inexpensive as long as you avoid the Eurostar and Freccia Rossa trains. Jenny advises you not to travel first-class, which is double the price with no real advantage. Remember to stamp the date on your ticket before leaving the station. There are little machines for this purpose at the head of the platform. The local station is Montevarchi-Terranuova. It is on the line between Florence and Arezzo and is only ten minutes from Rendola.

All local and regional trains stop there, including trains traveling northwards from Rome. The journey from Florence central station (Firenze Santa Maria Novella Railway Station) takes 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the number of stops. Contact Jenny if you need an up-to-date train schedule. The Rendola Riding Ranch minivan can pick you up at the back of the station (via Sugherella).

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 16.94% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
8 days / 7 nights
from --
Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 2 participants

Saturday September 21, 2024
(8 days / 7 nights)

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