Rendola Riding is a farm holiday centre owned by Jenny Bawtree, where people come to walk and ride – and enjoy the famed Tuscan cooking. They stay in her pretty 17C farmhouse where there are six bedrooms with bathrooms, a diningroom and a sittingroom full of books and with a music library. The house is on the slopes of the Chianti hills with wonderful views over the Arno valley and is less than 30 miles from either Florence or Siena. For the riders there are 18 well-trained horses, for the walkers there is a network of marked paths. Currently the Centre organizes “Discover Tuscany” weeks for riders and walkers alike.
Member since: 24 Aug 2009
How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
Everyone working at Rendola is Italian, with the exception of Jenny, of course, who has however lived in the area for forty years.and feels almost Italian. Pietro (82) presides over the kitchen but most of the cooking is now done by his son Sergio and Franca, a buxom local lady. Marco, Sergio’s son, does part-time work in the stables and the kitchen. Eraldo is our ebullient instructor and guide, while Costanza and Giovanna help Jenny with the riding and walking respectively.
The house has been carefully restored using local materials: chestnut wood for the beams, terracotta for the floors. Wood for heating the house comes from the Chianti hills. All the water comes from a spring on the farm and low energy light-bulbs are used. Thr farm has an organic farm certificate and produces all the olive oil used in the kitchen. Ducks and pigeons are reared for the table, hens lay eggs daily and there is a well-stocked vegetable garden. The food that is not grown on the farm comes from a local farmers’ market. Only Fairtrade tea and coffee are used and Chianti wine is bought from a local cooperative. Paper, plastic and glass are all recycled.
- Jenny is an active member of CAI, the Italian rambling association and helps to find and maintain paths all over the countryside. All walkers and riders 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 recognize 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 oriels, while the nightingale sings day AND night!
- 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. And if Pietro is in the vein, he will recount one of his famous stories.
- 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 amphithatre out of straw bales and local people come to act, sing, play musical instrumnets, as the spirit moves them. Nicholas, by the way, is assistant editor of an ecological magazine, “Terra Nuova”.
Founded by Jenny in 1969, this English woman has made her mark on Tuscan responsible tourism. As well as cooking holidays, riding and walking, art and cycling can all be part of the mix. Her energetic appetite for life is infectious.