Alta Tuscany Ride

Lazio Italy: (IT-ITSR05)

Lazio Italy
Make a handsome 17th century castle and its “borgo” your home while befriending a reliable and beautiful horse.  Enter Alta Tuscia, one of the less inhabited Italian regions waiting for you to explore its reaches. Your riding days will be spent in the territory surrounding Castle Cristina, a centuries old castle estate still owned by the ancient and noble Caterini family, whose new generation with a passion for horses has turned the premises into an enchanting resort with an equestrian flair. 

Encased in between Southern Tuscany and Umbria, the land is rich with endless historical and archaeological sites with ancient pasts! This area, cradle of the ancient Etruscan civilization, was later named Ducato di Castro and during the Renaissance belonged to the pope's son, Pierluigi  Farnese for over a century between ‘500 and ‘600.

View the many tombs, towns, palaces and castles scattered about the countryside while horseback riding along the “Brigands Path” an old track once used by the local outlaws trying to avoid the law, some two hundred years ago! With your faithful equine partner, you will cross beautiful vineyards and olive trees with breathtaking views of Lake Bolsena and ride through lovely chestnut woods and into the open, empty plains.

In Alta Tuscia there is an old passion and tradition for the horse and the local cowboys known as the "butteri” regard them as their closest friends. Hospitality is warm and simple, but truly authentic of a region still relying on agriculture as its  main income. Whenever possible, every long excursion will stop halfway at one of the delicious resident restaurants or “trattoria” where tasty and bona fide local recipes are served!  During your downtime at the castle, lounge in the 2 lovely swimming pools and sunbathe or play a lively game of tennis on the resident courts and even challenge your mate at ping-pong!  Mini-soccer and billiards complete the activities available, and if you are lucky, you may even have the Count invite you to share a drink and a personal tour of the tower!


This is a stationary ride, so you will be staying in the same location during the trip.

Just below the castle stands a handsome 18th Century farmhouse, the original centre of the estate’s farming activities. The farmhouse has been skillfully converted with careful attention to conserving authenticity together with comfort and privacy, in a pleasant combination with communal living. The large farm now contains eight charming apartments and 14 bedrooms furnished with original pieces and all equipped with private bathroom and free Wi-Fi access.
The ground floor of the farm house opens onto the main terrace, which overlooks the swimming pool. On the ground floor there is a large “taverna” with brick vaulted ceilings. The space is divided into three main areas: dining room, billiard room, ping-pong room, plus a large kitchen available for all the guests and equipped for cooking courses. 
We also have a washer and dryer that guests can use for a small fee.

The outdoor pool is open from June 1st to September 30th. There is a tennis court on site where you can book in for 10€ per hour. Mountain bikes available for rent at 18€ per day / per person. Volleyball courts, mini football pitch, and Jacuzzi on site.

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.
We prepare local traditional food, like lasagna, handmade pasta with ragù, roll meats.
Dinners will be served either in local restaurants or at the castle estate.

Some wine is included with lunch and dinner.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to all dietary restrictions with prior notice.

This trip includes some wine with dinner.


This trail includes 5 riding days: 1 full day (4-5 hours) & 4 half days (2-3 hours).
This trip can suite all riding levels from beginners (lessons in the arena) to experts. Excursions in the countryside on medium / long distances require rider’s ability to control the horse at the three gaits, including canter.
The overall pace of the ride us moderate with trots and canters.

Our horses have been selected for their attitude and breed. We have 20 horses at the moment that come from a wide range of breeds including: Italian Maremmano and Murgese, German, Dutch, French, Anglo Arab and cross breeds. They are our most important partners that we take a lot of pride in.
Most of the year, they live outside in the large paddocks with shelters. We also have a stables area with boxes and comfortable shelter when the weather is bad or the horses are ill and need to recover.
Around the castle, there are 100 hectares of green, sheltered fields where the horses are left free to graze. They definitely lead a good life.
We do our best to choose the best horse for our guest according to their level.

Riding Equipment
Helmets and body protectors of different sizes are available for our guests so that they can ride safely.
Some boots of different sizes are provided but if you have your own boots and helmets it is advisable to bring your own.
All guests MUST wear a helmet!

Two large sand arenas are available for our guests to test their skills. The ground is made of volcanic sand, typical of the area. One arena is used mainly for the flat work and the other larger arena is used for show jumping. The flatwork arena is also lit with floodlights. At the opposite side of the castle we have created a 2.000 m cross-country course with beautiful wooden jumps and soft reliable ground.

Antonio is an ENGEA equestrian guide as well as the owner of the estate. He has several years of experience, riding, training and keeping horses in the countryside. He believes that the new methods of training such as Monty Roberts' and Pat Parelli have improved enormously the relation between humans and horses and our horses are benefiting from that. His knowledge of the trails of the area as well as his passion for horses and for this place will make your trip really special.
Kylie is our Kiwi guide and instructor. She has been riding all her life. After graduating university, she decided to combine her love of horses with her passion for travel and became a horse trekking guide in various countries including Australia, England, Greece, Chile, Egypt and Spain.

Insurance covering horse riding accidents is mandatory. You have to tell the booking office in advance if you are uninsured. If you have no insurance, please consider that we need at least a 48 hours’ notice for activating one for you.

Non-Riding Activities
The estate has many other activities to offer to non-riding guests such as cooking classes, cycling, tennis, swimming and massages. There are also a number of attractions that are located in close proximity to the estate. Please, inquire for more information.


Sample Itinerary - subject to changes.

Note: The below sample itinerary / activities are subject to changes at the tour operator's discretion.

Day 1 (Thursday): Arrival
Afternoon check in, welcome drink & briefing with guide\instructor about riding and accommodation details and choice of the horses for the days ahead, enjoy your first dinner.

Day 2 to Day 7 (Friday to Wednesday): Activities
Your program includes 5 riding days (1 full day and 4 half-days) and 1 day with no riding activities. Half-Day trails can be replaced by a 1-hour lesson.

Day 8 (Thursday): Departure
Departure after breakfast, say your good byes! Transfer to Orvieto train station or Rome Airport (transfers at extra cost) or depart by rental car!

Example of day rides (4-5 hours)

Bolsena Lake
From the castle, we ride through the neighboring farmland, through chestnut woods on an ancient track which will carry us right above the crater of Lake Bolsena, the largest volcanic lake in Europe. While riding, we will witness some breath–taking views of the lake and surrounding area and of the two islands, Isola Bisentina and Martana.  As we head down to the lake, you will note many Etruscan tombs scattered throughout the countryside some re-used by farmers as cellars for their wine but still serving as a reminder of the ancient history which abounds in this area. Once at the lake, lunch is served in a typical trattoria, right on the beach. In the right season if you wish to cool off in the water, a swim in the lake can be done before starting the ride back up. We pass the archeological area of Pianezze, literally full of Etruscan tombs dating back 2600 years. Once at the top of the crater, we turn through some vineyards until we reach the shepherds' trail in the woods, leading us back to the estate.

Castle to Castle
This is an incredible ride through Lazio and Tuscany that is not to be missed. Travel on horseback from the Santa Cristina Castle estate to the fortress of Proceno, very much the same way as the dukes traveled hundreds of years ago.  From Santa Cristina, we ride towards the medieval town of Onano. The 16th century church of ‘Madonna delle Grazie’ is half way along the trail and from there we have a charming view of the village walls. We then carry on north towards the magical landscape between Lazio and Tuscany. As we cross the Montorio Game Reserve, we may be lucky enough to see the wild pheasants, fallow deer and wild pigs. Before crossing into Tuscan territory, we wade through a ford in the Stridolone River, before carrying up onto a hilltop which looks over the fortress of Proceno itself. Proceno is a village dominated by the fortress, dating back to medieval times - approximately year 1000.
After lunching on delicious Italian cuisine, we cross the river again and climb up onto a plateau, through thick vegetation, using an old farmers’ trail. As we head home, we ride past vineyards, fields and finally a former nuns’ convent from the 18th century, with a sad past to learn about. Finally, we return to the castle from the Northeast after 40 km of beautiful riding.

Lake Mezzano
This is one of our most renowned excursions. Lake Mezzano is an area worthy of note, owing to its great historical value and natural beauty. The lake itself was once a volcanic crater, formed 400,000 years ago, and the site of human settlements dating right back to the pre–Etruscan era (around 2,700 years ago).
Because of later earthquakes, these settlements are now submerged under water, but the importance of these archeological treasures was confirmed  in the mid-eighties by an archaeological campaign when swords, pots, and other tools were found on the bottom of the lake.
Our excursion takes our riders through the  farmland, up into the wooded  hills which surround Onano. Here, the horses have the opportunity to canter along a wonderful natural passage surrounded by trees. At the top of this plateau, we have a chance to take in the dazzling scenery, before we carry on down past the local farms into a very old woods made of huge chestnut trees that  leads us into a flat and open plain which offers a great deal of scenery.
Here, if desired,  horses can canter up the old tracks, before we reach the marshlands and vineyards which surround the Lake Mezzano itself. The Lake area is part of the Selva del Lamone natural reserve and here is a small  restaurant where we stop for lunch with a fantastic view overlooking the water. During the warmer months, anyone who wishes can also swim in the lake's crystal clear waters. In the afternoon, we ride back following the old Brigands Trail, taking in a few historical sights on the way.

Example of half day rides (2-3 hours)

Panoramic Views
After leaving the castle, we will follow an old shepherds' path reaching the hills framing our plateau to the west. Riding through chestnut woods, we arrive at the top of the crater where there is a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. To the south is the crater of the beautiful Lake Bolsena and to the west if lake Mezzano. Behind us, the imposing shape of Mount Amiata is towering from the north. On a clear breezy day the sea can be seen some 40 km away to the west like a glowing mirror reflecting the sun.
Carrying on up and down through the valleys and hills, across a plateau, we can enjoy the peace and the scenery. In particular, the mesmerizing Mount Amiata, Radicofani fortress and the distant castle of Torre Alfina.
From the hills on the way back, we will follow a comfortable trail winding through the fields and taking us back to the castle.

Three Waters along Brigand's Path
On this mini trek we will easily reach the hills framing the plateau in the west on whcih the castle is situated.  A fantastic spot for a breathtaking bird's eye view from the beautiful crater of Bolsena Lake on one side to the surrounding hills of Lake Mezzano on the other side.  On a clear day the sea can be seen 40 km's away like a glowing mirror.

Medieval Church St Maria Delle Colonne
We tackle an ancient track carved into the rocks, until we reach the famous “Brigands’ Path”. Passing the old farmhouse of St. Prospero, at a brisk trot we turn left on the path, crossing cultivated fields and later the chestnut woods. We can now push horses into a canter through a fantastic natural passageway in the woods, leading riders through an exhilarating run in a fairytale environment. Soon we will find another old road carved into the rock, leading us down to the ancient church of St Maria delle Colonne and its nearby fountain. From here, we return to the castle exploring the beautiful Italian countryside and endless chestnut woods.

Nocchieto and St Martino
Using the old outlaw track called the Brigands' Path, we ride away on a panoramic trail among pastures of grazing sheep. This old trail soon turns down into a narrow valley of volcanic rock. At the bottom of the hills, we will find an old abandoned farmers' settlement: Nocchieto. Still fascinating in its architecture, it is a house made of local tufa rock leaning against the side of the hill. As the road changes from volcanic rock into soft ground, we can gently push our horses forwards into canter and up into the hills. After following a narrow valley to the top, we meet the Brigands' Path again, where we can carry on across varied landscapes past scattered Etruscan tombs and caves.
Finally, we make our way back to the castle to another stunning plateau, where we encounter a lovely vista before returning home through the woods.

San Luigi
After leaving the riding center, we pass an old farm named San Prospero and we ride up through the valleys and hills. our route goes through romantic chestnut woods and up onto the plateau to take in the spectacular scenery, including Mount Amiata, the Radicofani Fortress and the distant castle of Torre Alfina.  We then arrive at the S. Luigi farm, where local shepherds still produce delicious ‘ricotta’ cheese. Around us sheep graze happily in the fields as we follow the way home back along the hills to the castle.

This time we head north through the hills, a spectacular scenery of the castle estate and surrounding farmland will keep us company. After crossing the provincial road, the trail will lead us towards a magical scenery made by the Tuscan mountains towering in front of us. The trail carries on around the vicinity of Onano – a fortified town of the Middle Ages. Your guide will show you the medieval castle dominating the ancient town – an important stronghold of the Monaldeschi family which ruled the area in the Middle Ages. We keep on going along the old farmers’ tracks, up into the open fields, past the delightful medieval church of St Maria delle Grazie and then back home to the castle.

Following an old Etruscan trail, we ride up through thick woods to the top of the crater surrounding Lake Bolsena. Here, we enjoy a remarkable scenery including vineyards, Etruscan tombs, the prominent volcanic lake and the panorama dominated by the famous Farnese Palace in Gradoli. A gift of the Pope in 1500 to his nephew for his wedding - what a present! We return to the castle riding through the vineyards, vegetable gardens and enchanting woods. In particular, we enjoy a canter through a unique tunnel made by the oak trees above an old shepherds path.


Non-Riding Activities (included)
- Swimming pool (June 1st – September 30th)
- Mini football Pitch
- Volleyball
- Ping pong
- Billiards

Non-Riding Activities (for added fee)
- Tennis court (€10/ hour)
- Mountain bikes (€18/ person / day)
- Pasta-making class (€75/ person)
- Wine tasting (€25/ person)
- Massages are available upon request and according to our availability (extra cost - please inquire), any day from 9.00 am to 7 pm
- Guided tour of Bolsena Lake (prices and more information at the Castle Reception)
- Archeology at Grotte di Castro (prices and more information at the Castle Reception)
- Spa Visit (prices and more information at the Castle Reception)

There are also road bikes packages available (inquire for pricing and more information).

Cooking Lesson
Cooking classes are taught by chef Giovanni Verzini, a chef of great international experience. Giovanni will give you a real hands-on lesson where you will learn the basics of Italian cooking and the techniques to make an impressive four courses meal, from home-made pasta to traditional desserts and everything in between. All of the ingredients you will use are bought each morning from local farms and markets. If you wish you will be able to participate in the purchase of the necessary local produce for the lesson of the day.
The classes can be from half a day to a week. It is up to you to decide  A half a day class including dinner prepared under the supervision of the chef will cost you € 100 per person.
Every class can be a maximum of 5 people. There is no minimum required.


Spa Visit (extra fee)
Since the time of the Etruscans and the Romans, natural hot springs were considered a natural source of wellness with therapeutic properties. Given it’s volcanic soil, Southern Tuscany offers a vast range of thermal baths of different levels. Only 18 km away from the castle, next to the village of Sorano there is a well organized spa facility. There you can to swim in the warm waters and relax beneath two beautiful waterfalls. Here, you can enjoy a natural hydro massage, a special massage or various spa treatments in the wellness center. Waters are flowing from natural springs at 37° centigrade. The area around the swimming pool is largely equipped with sun beds and umbrellas to satisfy the needs of everyone. A small river surrounds the spa and receives the outgoing native waters. It’s mixed waters come from a little stream in the woods and several other hot springs.

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Rates and Dates for Alta Tuscany Ride

Rates include:

7 nights accommodations in restored farmhouse Sat-Sat, one cleaning, all meals, welcome drink and guided tour of the castle, 5 riding days
5 riding days: 1 full day (4-5 hrs), 4 half days (2-3 hrs) and one day no riding.

Packages and Options

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:

2019 Transfer from Rome Ciampino airport or Rome Fiumicino airport (taxi), return, per car (1 pax)~
- to be paid locally
220 $265
2019 Transfer from Rome Ciampino airport or Rome Fiumicino airport (taxi), return, per car (2-3 pax)~
- to be paid locally
235 $285
2019 Transfer from Rome Ciampino airport or Rome Fiumicino airport (taxi), return, per car (4 pax)~
- to be paid locally
250 $300
2019 Transfer from Orvieto Train station, return (taxi), per car (1 pax) ~
- to be paid locally
100 $120
2019 Transfer from Orvieto Train station, return (taxi), per car (2-3 pax) ~
- to be paid locally
120 $145
2019 Transfer from Orvieto Train station, return (taxi), per car (4 pax) ~
- to be paid locally
140 $170
2019 Transfer surcharge before 8AM or after 8 PM 15 $20

Dates Note: Saturday-Saturday

Rates do not include:

Insurance coverage (mandatory - can be purchased via Hidden Trails or locallly (in advance), daily maid service.

Other Info
Meeting: Grotte di Castro
Airport: Rome Fiumicino
Transfer: Orvieto- best to rent a car or take taxi from Orvieto

                                                Onano area














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Source: NOAA

In general the climate in Tuscany is very mild. There are little differences between the regions, though. Rule of thumb: at the coast and in the valleys the summers are hotter than in the hilly areas, where the climate is very continental – rain falls are more often.

Usually the summers in Tuscany are without rain and very hot, especially in the valleys.
Spring (April and May) and autumn (October and November) might be rainy but there are still dry, sunny days and temperatures are pleasant.
In the winter there are sunny, mild days but at night it sometimes gets very cold.

What To Bring:
Travel insurance is mandatory for this trip. Please make sure you purchase one with adequate coverage. Contact Hidden Trails for some options, some info are posted on our website at

This list is only a guideline for you

Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Personal Travel Insurance


Normal riding gear or comfortable, yet sturdy pants. No leggings please.
Riding boots or shoes with flat soles that cover the ankles.
We recommend mini chaps.
Long sleeved cotton shirts (for sun protection)
Riding helmet ** Mandatory. We suggest you bring your own, but can also provide some
Riding gloves
Hat (with chin strap) for sun protection
A wind breaker, rain gear that can be pulled over the saddle


Jacket or sweater for cool evenings
Comfortable T-Shirts/ShirtsJeans
Underwear and socks
Light summer jacket
Comfortable shoes/sneakers


Personal Toiletries
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream (for an emergency)
Sewing kit Handkerchiefs
Adapter for electric appliances
Camera and enough extra films
Belt pack
Address book and pen (for postcards!)
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm