Tuscan Discovery Week

Tuscany Italy: (IT-ITSR02)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/italy_tuscany_dicovery.aspx

Introduction
Tuscany Italy
Horseback ride through the picturesque Chianti hills - the lovely unspoiled region between Florence and Siena, famous for tasty  food, great wine and stunning scenery! Our rides take you through the beautiful countryside, with its terraced vineyards, cypress avenues and extensive woodlands. As riders you are especially privileged, able to ride off the beaten track, away from tourists and vehicles, to explore the land of Dante, Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci. Even if the region was not fill of history and culture as it is, you could truly just simply bask in the beauty of it all! The charming farmhouse and stables (it is not a hotel or luxury villa) are on the eastern slopes of the Chianti Mountains. Before it lies the broad valley of the Arno and beyond, the long ridge of the Pratomagno, with its highest point at 1,591 meters. On the other side lies the Casentino Valley, rich in castles and Romanesque churches, while behind the farm stretches the beautiful range of Chianti. Here is a place where animal and nature lovers will immediately feel right at home - there are eighteen beautiful horses, but also many dogs and cats, chickens, ducks and a resident goat. Jenny, your hostess, fell in love with this special part of Tuscany forty years ago and is happy to share with you the beauty of the Italian countryside she calls home. She is knowledgeable about local art and history and happy to give you the details. A guest once said of her holiday haven here: “It’s the perfect combination of riding and culture.”

If you are single, no problem; you will feel at ease in this friendly place she has created. If it’s your first time in Italy, no problem; Jenny and her colleagues will introduce you to the Italian lifestyle with open arms. If you don’t like driving on the foreign Italian roads, no problem; from your arrival in Florence all transport is provided. You will get plenty of chances to meet the people of Italy and discover what delightful people they are. And if you think Italian food is all pasta and pizzas, you have a lot of pleasant surprises ahead. Chianti wine will be served with all meals. Sorry to say, but expect to put on a couple of pounds during your stay!

As for the horses, they are well-trained and fit, Jenny does her best to match them to the individual riders whom come to visit. We promise you will have loads of fun, but safety is also a priority here. Eraldo, the instructor, has BHS qualifications and many years of experience. He speaks fluent, if erratic, English and you will find his lessons useful, stimulating and fun. The woods and hills surrounding the center are ideal for hacking because there are innumerable trails, with no gates and very little roadwork. Each day your ride will be unique and with new features - a canter between rows of vines, a trot along a cypress avenue, a visit to a semi-ruined castle, a barbecue on the mountaintop, you name it!

Accomodation

Accommodations
This small family-run farm holiday center in the Chianti hills was established back in 1969. While fully surrounded by pristine countryside (vineyards, olive-groves and woodlands), it is conveniently less than thirty miles from Florence and Siena by car and only three miles from the station of Montevarchi.

The seventeenth-century house has a panoramic view over the Arno valley. It is typically Tuscan, with its pigeon-loft, beams, terracotta floors and arches. Each bedroom is attractively furnished and has its own small bathroom. There is a sitting room with a large selection of English books and classical music and a fire is prepared on the hearth on wintry days.

It is not for people looking for elegance. Hens and ducks peck around the house, our Labrador Miranda greets you on your arrival, and you may find Catkin the cat curled up in an armchair. A recent arrival is Emmelina, a charming Tibetan goat. The farm is primarily a riding-centre: the stables are just behind the house, a dozen or so horses graze in the surrounding paddocks. No one has to dress up on any occasion. Non-riders are welcome, of course, but they must not be shocked at the occasional whiff of manure! The house itself is clean and pretty, but it is after all a family home, with books spilling out of the shelves and jackets hanging on the back of chairs.

But this is what appeals to a certain kind of client. In fact, they hardly feel like clients, more like honoured guests, and many come back time and time again. (One English lady, has been here sixteen times!) Jenny and her son Nicholas are happy to welcome country-lovers to their home and guests quickly become friends. The place is suitable also for single people, who will here feel looked after and cherished. At meal-times the guests all sit together at a long table and there is plenty of merriment as well as good food and wine. So many riders have said to me: "I feel so at home here!"

Washing machines are on site. There is free internet access (WIFI) at the riding center.


Meals
The Tuscan cooking, is, of course, a great attraction. Our cook has a large repertoire of pasta, rice and meat dishes and typical Italian desserts. Vegetarians are well catered for. Most of the vegetables are grown locally, the olives for the oil are picked on the premises and our hens provide us with fresh eggs daily. Franca is in charge of our cooking courses and I assure you that she has great talents as a teacher as well.

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

Riding
Tuscany Discovery 
Riding
In a week's stay, you will never do the same ride twice. This is not fast riding country, but there is so much to look at that speed is not an issue. You will follow trails through pretty vineyards, olive groves and woodlands without any landowners objecting and without meeting a single gate, something that never ceases to amaze.

Horses
There are 18 horses on our property and they are of various breeds, as we believe that it is the temperament of the horse, not the breed that matters. Currently, there are 3 Arabs, 1 Anglo-Arab, 1 Appalosa and several Sicilian bred horses.
The horses are kept in the stables immediately behind the house or in the surrounding fields.
The horses, all trained in the English style of riding, are sleek, fit and even those which are stable-kept spend some hours in the paddocks every day if they are not ridden. They all have good characters, strong hooves and plenty of stamina. All the horses do arena work as well as riding out on the trail, so they are obedient and responsive to the aids on all occasions.
There are also 2 ponies available, but they are lively little fellows and are not suitable for children less than ten years old.   
If riders feel inclined, they are welcome to help with the grooming and tacking up of the horses, an excellent way of making friends with their mounts.

Staff
Jenny set up the riding center because she wanted to transmit to others her love of horses and the Tuscan countryside. She is very knowledgeable about the local history, art and architecture as well as the flora and fauna.
Eraldo (qualified as a BHS instructor) is in charge of the riding side of activities. He is very knowledgeable about birds, is an experienced instructor and guide, a keen fisherman and hunter – and a charming fellow with a great gift of the gab!

Non-Riders
Non-riders are welcome, of course, but they must not be shocked at the occasional whiff of manure! Franca, the cook, organizes cooking courses on specific dates but can also provide, on request, tailor-made cooking lessons.
For walkers and mountain-bikers there are many waymarked trails radiating out from the Centre. For those using road-bikes, there are plenty of quiet lanes in the Chianti region and the Arno valley.

Itinerary

A Taste of Tuscany Getaway (from Saturday to Wednesday)
 
Day 1
Go to the main railway station of Florence (Firenze Santa Maria Novella) and  at 5:50pm meet your host Jenny (middle-aged, white-haired and wearing a red shirt) or her son Nicholas (tall, dark and handsome) outside the Feltrinelli bookshop and snack bar opposite platform 14. (There is a luggage depot further up that platform if you need it.) After a forty-minute train journey to Montevarchi take a ten-minute drive in a minivan to the farm, the 400-year-old typically Tuscan home of your host. Settle in and then enjoy a chat and a glass of Chianti Classico with your host, either in the sitting room or outside the farmhouse with its panoramic views. Dinner and night at the farm.

Day 2
A morning ride takes you through vineyards, olive groves and woodland, passing a 14C church and an 18C manor house beneath the medieval tower of Galatrona.  After lunch, a light-hearted lesson in essential Italian and/or an hour’s guided walk in the woods and fields to learn about the trees and flowers you will see on your rides. Back for a cuppa and later a freshly made pizza followed by one of Isabella's delicious meals.

Day 3
The morning ride takes you through charming hamlets in unspoilt countryside and also introduces you to a ‘casa leopoldina’. After lunch a short trip by train to the ancient city of Arezzo and a visit guided by Jenny of some of its most notable sights, including the frescoes of Piero della Francesca. Opportunity to shop. Dinner at the farm.

Day 4
Ride to the tower of Galatrona and along the ridge with fabulous views to the castle of Cennina. Descend to a lake and have a luxurious picnic either there or in the woods nearby. Ride near the castle of Lupinari and proceed with frequent canters towards Rendola. A farewell dinner and, if desired, a visit to the local pub.

Day 5
Breakfast and EITHER your own arrangements to leave (departure is usually by 10.00) OR a ten-minute drive to Montevarchi to meet the train back to Florence. Own arrangements for your onward journey from Florence. For those going to Rome, there is a direct train from Montevarchi.

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Tuscan Discovery Week (from Saturday to Saturday)

Day 1- Saturday
Go to the main railway station of Florence (Firenze Santa Maria Novella) and  at 5:50pm meet your host Jenny (middle-aged, white-haired and wearing a red shirt) or her son Nicholas (tall, dark and handsome) outside the Feltrinelli bookshop and snack bar opposite platform 14. (There is a luggage depot further up that platform if you need it.) After a forty-minute train journey to Montevarchi take a ten-minute drive in a minivan to the farm, the 400-year-old typically Tuscan home of your host. Settle in and then enjoy a chat and a glass of Chianti Classico with your host, either in the sitting room or outside the farmhouse with its panoramic views. Dinner and night at the farm.

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 home for lunch. After a short siesta and possibly a guided walk to introduce you to the local flora and fauna, join your host for a lesson in Italian pronunciation which will prove useful over the following days (learn, for example, that the “ch” in the Italian word bruschetta is pronounced like a 'k'!). For dinner, freshly made pizzas followed by dessert.

Day 3- Monday
Breakfast and morning ride (about two and a half hours) in the wooded hills north of the farm, scattered with charming hamlets and traditional farmhouses. After lunch 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 and then to the main square made familiar by the film “Life is Beautiful”. There is a chance, too, to do some shopping. Dinner and night at the farm.

Day 4- Tuesday
Day ride and picnic in the Chianti hills (about five hours in the saddle). During your ride you will pass the medieval village of San Leolino, a lake and the castles of Cennina and Lupinari. Dinner and night at home.

Day 5- Wednesday 
A free day to make your arrangements for sightseeing, perhaps to visit Florence (if she is available your host will gladly give you a guided tour of the main sights) or the hill towns of Cortona, Assisi or Orvieto – take your pick. All three are an easy train journey from Montevarchi and you will be driven to and from the station. Alternatively there could be a wine-tasting visit to Montepulciano and Pienza (minimum 3 people), to be paid for on site. Dinner and night at the farm.

Day 6- Thursday 
Either a morning ride or a guided visit to the local town of Montevarchi and its famous weekly market: a good chance to pick up bargains! Lunch at a gourmet restaurant in Loro Ciuffenna, a medieval village built round a ravine on the other side of the Arno valley. Drive back home and have either an afternoon ride or a lesson with our BHS instructor in the school. Dinner and night at home.

Day 7- Friday 
A final day ride (about five hours in the saddle) to the top of the Chianti hills (nearly 2,500 feet). Enjoy a barbecue on the ridge beside a boarhunters' hut and ride back via the village and castle of Montegonzi. A farewell dinner and, if desired, a visit to the local pub.
 
Day 8- Saturday
Breakfast and then a ten-minute journey to Montevarchi station to meet the train back to Florence. Own arrangements for your onward journey from Florence. For those going to Rome there is a direct and inexpensive train from Montevarchi every two hours.

--Subject to changes--

NOTE: riding can be substituted for walks and/or cooking lessons for non-riders, or riders who need a rest from the saddle!


Rates and Dates for Tuscan Discovery Week

Rates include:

Accommodation, all meals with choice of wines except lunch on free day, 3 half-days’ riding, 2 full days’ riding

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    A
    20208 day trip, AP€1605$1845
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.15

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionEUR~US$
2020 Transfer from Florence train station at 5:50 PM included 0 $0
2020 Non-rider rate (30% OFF), dbl, pp 900 $1,035

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2020 04/18 - 04/25 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 2 /6 Reserve
A 2020 05/16 - 05/23 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 2 /6 Reserve
A 2020 09/19 - 09/26 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 2 /6 Reserve
A 2020 10/17 - 10/24 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 2 /6 Reserve

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Transportation and lunch on Wednesday, Gratuities

Other Info
Meeting: Farm
Airport: Florence
Transfer: Florence (Firenze Santa Maria Novella) at 5:50 on Day 1 or Montevarchi Train Station

Climate:
                                            Montevarchi area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

49

52

60

66

75

82

89

89

79

69

57

50

Average Low Temperature (°F)

34

35

40

44

51

58

62

61

55

50

42

36

Average High Temperature (°C)

9

11

16

19

24

28

32

32

26

21

14

10

Average Low Temperature (°C)

1

2

4

7

10

14

17

16

13

10

6

2

Source: NOAA


Seasons
Central Italy benefits from a kind of ocean climate with mild winters and temperatures are hot but bearable (thanks to the ocean) for the summer. The climate in Tuscany is very mild and the seasons each have their merits.

Spring and autumn are particularly good times to visit.
Spring is a delightful time to visit when the trees and flowers are blooming, the air is warm and the nightingales are singing day and night.

Autumn brings glorious colors and you can see the farmers prepare for the olive and grape harvests.

What To Bring:
For riders essential items are: helmet, riding-trousers (jeans are not always comfortable), riding boots or walking shoes + half-chaps (easier to pack), full-length raincoat (yes, it can rain in Italy, too!), and gloves if you are used to wearing them. Otherwise dress according to the season. Remember that you don’t have to bring out your finery! There is a washing-machine and an iron if you need them. Other useful items: sun cream, lip salve, personal medicines, small camera with strap you can put round your neck, gilet with pockets or bumbag. Remember that there are plenty of good books at the farm and that there is free WIFI. All guests are advised not to bring too much luggage: bulky suitcases hamper you on your travels (there are steps everywhere!). Reserve some space, however, for anything you might want to buy during your stay. Buy your shampoos and suchlike when you get to Italy to avoid having to show them at the airport.

This list is only a guideline for you

 

Travel Documents and Voucher
Personal Travel Insurance
Flight tickets
Passport
Visa (check with your consulate)

 

RIDING GEAR
Riding pants or Jodhpurs
Riding boots and Mini-chaps
Riding helmet (recommended for all trips)
Riding gloves
Hat (with chin strap) for sun protection
Rain jacket

 

PERSONAL CLOTHING
Jacket or sweater for cool evenings
Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts
Casual pants
Shorts
Underwear and socks
Pyjama
Lightweight rain jacket
Casual footwear
Swimsuit
 
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
Personal Toiletries
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream (for an emergency)
Sewing kit
Handkerchiefs
Adapter for electric appliances
Camera and enough extra films
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm