Tuscany horse riding and food holiday

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01273 823 700

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2019: 8 May, 9 Oct
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Tuscany horse riding and food holiday

Environment

This tour has been designed for not more than ten 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. Our hens lay eggs daily and we buy vegetables from local producers at 0 km. 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, 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!

Community

Everyone working at the farm is Italian, with the exception of Jenny, of course, who has however lived in the area for fifty years and feels almost Italian. For 30 years Pietro, a peasant farmer, presided over the kitchen and with Jenny's help wrote a cookbook of which we give a copy to all our guests. Since he died the cooking has been done by Franca, a buxom local lady who also organizes cooking lessons. Marco, Pietro's grandson, does part-time work in the stables and the kitchen and Gianni is our Mr Fixit and driver. Eraldo is our ebullient BHS instructor and guide and is in charge of the riding activities.

The Centre collaborates with Sergio, Pietro's son, who lives 200 yards away in a farmhouse with a large barn on the edge of the nearby village. Here we have held small photographic exhibitions, painting classes and exhibitions of traditional farming implements. Sergio and his daughter Sara 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.

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 director of an ecological publishing house “Terra Nuova Edizioni' which has published Jenny's book, 'Il Libro di Pietro, la storia di un contadino toscano.' This has been published by Constable with the title 'Pietro's Book, the story of a Tuscan peasant.' Nicholas also produces a monthly magazine 'Terra Nuova' which is sold nationwide and promotes healthy living and a sustainable life style.

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