Tuscany horse riding holiday in Italy

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2017: 22 Apr, 6 May, 20 May, 23 Sep, 7 Oct
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Tuscany horse riding holiday in Italy

Environment

This tour has been designed for not more than twelve riders (or walkers) so that no one will feel just one of a crowd. The atmosphere is informal and friendly and singles will feel at home. The farm where you will be staying has an organic certificate. There are about three hundred olive-trees which produce all the olive-oil used in the kitchen. Ducks and pigeons are reared for the table, hens lay eggs daily and a well-stocked garden provides fresh vegetables. Other food is bought at a local farmers’ market. Chianti wine comes from local vineyards and only Fairtrade tea and coffee are used.

The house has been carefully restored, using local materials: chestnut wood for the beams, terracotta for the floors. The furniture has all been bought locally. All the light bulbs are low energy. Wood for heating the house is brought from the Chianti hills; there is a large fireplace in the sitting-room and a woodstove in the kitchen heats most of the house. All the water comes from a spring on the farm.

Jenny, your English host, is an active member of CAI, the Italian rambling association and helps to find and maintain paths and trails all over the countryside. Riders and walkers are encouraged to recognise and respect the local crops and to refrain from leaving litter (the horses sometimes let us down in this respect, but what they leave is strictly organic). Jenny likes to teach the local children not only to ride but to recognise the trees and flowers of the area, while Eraldo tells them about the deer, the porcupine and the wild boar that roam the woods, as well as the birds: in spring it is common to hear hoopoes, bee-eaters and golden orioles, while the nightingales sing night AND day!



This programme is designed to make as little use of the car is possible. Buses in this area are infrequent but we do make use of the excellent local train service. Guests enjoy going with us to the market in our nearby town where they can observe the local women doing their weekly shopping, while the men stand chatting in the main square. In theory they are discussing the price of pigs and suchlike, but in Jenny’s opinion they are just having a good chinwag! We frequently organize parties for the people of Rendola in our converted barn down in the village and our guests are welcome to participate in the feasting and dancing.

Community

Everyone working at the farm is Italian, with the exception of Jenny, of course, who has however lived in the area for forty years and feels almost Italian. For 30 years Pietro, a peasant farmer, presided over the kitchen but since he died the cooking is now done by his son Sergio and Franca, a buxom local lady who also organizes cooking courses. Marco, Sergio’s son, does part-time work in the stables and the kitchen. Eraldo is our ebullient instructor and guide.

The Centre owns another farmhouse with a large barn on the edge of the nearby village, 200 yards away, and here we have held small photographic exhibitions and painting classes. Sergio and Franca regularly organize dinners for our guests to which the villagers are also invited. Sometimes they are all entertained by local musicians playing and singing folksongs, or poets improvising in “ottava rima”, a folk tradition which has recently been revived. We have a lot of plans for this venue but sometimes lack the time to carry them out. In summer Nicholas, Jenny’s son, organizes a “teatro di paglia”: he and his friends build an amphitheatre out of straw bales and local people come to act, sing, play musical instruments, as the spirit moves them. He has now formed a network of straw theatres, of which there are 35 scattered all over Italy. Nicholas, by the way, is assistant editor of an ecological magazine, “Terra Nuova”.

Reviews of Tuscany horse riding holiday in Italy

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 27 Oct 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Definitely, the best aspect of this trip was the horse riding. The horses were healthy and well-behaved. Riding along side sky-high cypress trees, between rows of vineyards, and past ancient ruins and rural villas was quite an experience. The pace was comfortable - with plenty of lively canters!

We stayed at the riding center in the owner's restored family home. My sister and I shared a room that overlooked the stables. We fell asleep to the gentle sound of nickers.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


This itinerary incorporated a lovely mix of riding and history. The Center's owner, Jenny, developed a program that combines her love of horses and history. She organized trips to a local town to experience their market day, to another nearby town to view beautiful frescos, and a yet another town for a fabulous lunch at a restaurant perched above a ravine.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Most definitely. This program allowed us to visit several local towns and experience the local lifestyles - visiting museums, markets, shops, restaurants, etc. Additionally, our meals at the Center were comprised of organic, locally-grown produce, fresh meats and breads - all purchased from local vendors.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent!

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Glenna and twin sister Becca,Thank you for sending your feedback. I'm so glad you both enjoyed your holiday at Rendola. On our part it's lovely to have such appreciative and smiling guests such as you two!

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