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Cultural Horse Riding Holiday Italy

Rendola Riding has prepared a new riding program week specially tailored for riders who are also art lovers. Jenny is not an art historian but you do not have to be one to be passionate about medieval and early Renaissance frescoes, and she is happy to transmit her enthusiasm to other art-lovers. This tour will bring you to many of the most famous frescoes of Tuscany!

Key information

  • Rider weight limit: 187 pounds / 85 kilograms
  • Tack type: English
  • Horse breed: Arab, part-bred, Sicilian

Meet the instructors

Jenny, Eraldo, & Franca
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Highlights

  • 4 half-day rides
  • Guided tours in Florence, Arezzo, Siena, and San Gimignano
  • Ride through beautiful vineyards, olive groves, wooded hills, and hamlets
  • 1 night accommodation in San Gimignano
  • 6 nights accommodation at Rendola
  • Dinner in San Gimignano
  • Meals at Rendola

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Styles


7 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: French, Italian
Group size: 2-4 participants
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Accommodation

Rendola Riding holiday center is not a luxurious villa nor a country house hotel, but a farmhouse which is a family home with an informal and friendly atmosphere. Jenny Bawtree, the founder of the riding center, has lived there for many years, while her son Nicholas makes frequent visits, so the guests become their friends and often come back time and time again. The house is at the center of a small organic farm with over three hundred olive trees which supply all the extra-virgin olive oil used in the kitchen.

Covered with wisteria, jasmine, and Virginia creeper, it is very picturesque and has a wonderful view of the Arno valley and the mountain range beyond it. It has the characteristics typical 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 cheerful and pretty, with pictures on the wall and a shelf full of books. In each bedroom, there is an album packed with photographs and information about local places of interest. In the evenings the guests can gather in the comfortable sitting room to read, chat, enjoy a glass of local wine, 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 both night and day) and smell, the delicate perfume of wisteria and jasmine. It truly is a Tuscan paradise. On Thursday night, you will be accommodated to San Gimignano in a charming ‘residenza d’epoca’.

Program

This is a new riding program week specially tailored for riders who are also art lovers. Jenny is not an art historian but is passionate about medieval and early Renaissance frescoes and is happy to transmit her enthusiasm to other art-lovers. The tour includes many of the most famous frescoes of Tuscany.

Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Saturday

Own arrangements to reach Florence main station (Firenze Santa Maria Novella). At 5:50 p.m., you will meet either Jenny Bawtree (middle-aged, white-haired) or her son Nicholas (tall, dark, and handsome) outside the Feltrinelli bookshop and snack bar opposite platform 14. You will be accompanied on a forty-minute train ride to Montevarchi and then on a ten-minute drive to Rendola, the 400-year-old typically Tuscan home of your hosts. Settle in and then enjoy a chat and a glass of Chianti Classico wine. Dinner and night at Rendola.

Day 2 - Sunday

Breakfast and morning ride (about two and a half hours) through vineyards, olive groves, and woodland, passing near an 11th-century tower and a 14th-century church. Return to Rendola for lunch. Jenny will then give you an introduction to the fresco, one of the main art forms of medieval Tuscany: its origins, techniques, and its role on the road towards the Renaissance. Dinner at Rendola.

Day 3 - Monday

Breakfast and morning ride (about two hours) in the wooded hills north of Rendola, scattered with charming hamlets and traditional farmhouses. After lunch, you will go to the ancient city of Arezzo and enjoy a guided visit to the fascinating, world-famous frescoes of Piero della Francesca of which your host has made a special study. Dinner at Rendola.

Day 4 - Tuesday

Breakfast and morning ride (about two hours), passing the hamlets of Loccano and Noferi with its views of the local ’smotte’ which inspired Leonardo da Vinci. After lunch, a visit to Siena to have a look at the magnificent frescoes in the town hall. If desired, also a visit to the famed cathedral with its Renaissance frescoes in the Libreria Piccolomini. Dinner at Rendola.

Day 5 - Wednesday

A guided visit to Florence. Highlights of the day are the frescoes and altarpiece of Ghirlandaio in the church of Santa Trìnita, the frescoes of Giotto and his pupils in the Basilica of Santa Croce, and finally a visit to Jenny’s favorite church, the Basilica of San Miniato on a hill overlooking the city to see the frescoes of the 14th-century artist from Arezzo, Spinello Aretino, and other even earlier frescoes. Lunch in Florence and dinner at Rendola.

Day 6 - Thursday

A two-and-a-half-hour ride passing the Pianacce and skirting the village of Caposelvi. After a light lunch, a short trip to Florence by train, a visit to the frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli in the Palazzo Medici-Ricciardi, and then a train journey plus a taxi ride to San Gimignano to spend the night in a charming ‘residenza d’epoca’. A pizza supper at a local pizzeria where, according to Jenny, you will have the best pizza of your life.

Day 7 - Friday

A visit to the 14th-century frescoes in the Duomo, which must be at the same time the most charming, dramatic, and even unconsciously humorous frescoes you will have seen this week. Then (optional) a visit to Le Cellole, an intact Romanesque church of great beauty to listen to sung prayers by the resident monks. A light lunch nearby in San Gimignano and thence to Florence and home for dinner and night at Rendola.

Day 8 - Saturday

Breakfast and then a ten-minute journey to Montevarchi station to meet the train back to Florence or down to Rome. Own arrangements for your onward journey from Florence.

Included excursions

  • Visit the fascinating, world-famous frescoes of Piero della Francesca in Arezzo
  • Visit Siena to have a look at the magnificent frescoes in the Town Hall
  • A guided visit to Florence and San Gimignano

Instructors

Jenny Bawtree

Eraldo Tuveri

Franca Filippelli

Location

The tour will take place in Tuscany, Italy.

Distances

  • Village of Mercatale Valdarno, 2 kilometers
  • Town of Montevarchi, 6 kilometers
  • Arezzo, 30 kilometers
  • Siena, 48 kilometers
  • Florence, 50 kilometers away

Food

At Rendola Riding, you will enjoy delicious Tuscan cooking prepared usually by Franca but sometimes by Jenny. Here are just a few of the dishes, which cannot all be translated as there is no English equivalent:

  • Porcini mushroom crêpes
  • Aretine crostini
  • Summer spaghetti
  • Risotto al Chianti
  • Arista (a special cut of pork, ask about the origin of the word) with roast potatoes cooked with rosemary
  • Rabbit with juniper berries
  • Franca's specialties: home-made tiramisu, pannacotta with wild berries and cantuccini, a Tuscan almond biscuit served with vinsanto, a Tuscan liqueur.

Of course, you can drink Chianti wine with the meals. Sometimes, the hosts invite you to come with them to dine at 'L'Osteria di Rendola', a short walk from the farmhouse, a beautiful restaurant run by Franca, another Franca, but equally jovial. Rendola Riding does serve meat and fish with most meals but usually, they follow a Mediterranean diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, so they can easily cater to vegetarians.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

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

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

What's included

  • 4 half-day rides
  • Guided visits to Arezzo, Siena, Florence, and San Gimignano
  • 6 nights accommodation at Rendola
  • 1 night accommodation at San Gimignano
  • All meals at Rendola

What's not included

  • Transport
  • Lunch in Florence and San Gimignano
  • Entrance into museums and churches

How to get there

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 17% 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 April 9, 2022
(8 days / 7 nights)

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