This adventure holidays travel guide is not just for those who are merely seeking an adrenaline hit on holiday, but also for those simply seeking some fun. Be it on the water, climbing mountains, close to home or on the other side of the world. Adventure is for everyone – whether you want to climb mountains, sail the seven seas or cycle every European byway and highway.
Horse riding holidays in Tuscany
It’s difficult to imagine a more picturesque location for a horse riding holiday than Tuscany, with its rolling Chianti hills, shaded olive groves and vineyards, dotted with beautiful old castles. Like many other parts of Europe, Tuscany is ideal for less-experienced riders too, with easygoing terrain and lots to do when you’re relaxing out of the saddle. You might also bookend your trip with a cultural excursion to Florence or Siena, home of the legendary Palio.
Embrace the typically Tuscan atmosphere staying in a rustic farmhouse, with views over the Arno valley, hens pecking around the yard, cats and dogs always roaming, and even a Tibetan goat hanging about. You’ll share homecooked cuisine with other guests and welcoming hosts, and enjoy a flexible itinerary where you can ride each day as much or as little as you feel like. Much of the food you’ll be served, from duck and pigeon to olive oil and fresh vegetables will have travelled less than 100 metres to the table. And of course there will be enough excellent wine sloshing around to fill a generous horse trough.
A typical Tuscan horse riding holiday lasts for around a week, with between two and five hours on horseback every day depending on the itinerary, over easygoing, open terrain. This is not fast-riding country, but why would you want to rush Tuscany anyway? The spring and autumn months are the best time to appreciate the full glory of the countryside. An onsite riding centre ensures that everyone is matched with a horse suitable for their size and ability (yes, there are even ponies for younger children – the minimum age for these trips is 10) before you head out.
Family horse riding in Tuscany
As with many other European horse riding holidays, Tuscany is a fantastic option for families with younger children that want to build confidence in the saddle in an ‘easy’ location. Expect an informal atmosphere, with up to 12 guests leading to good sociability. Staying on a working farm means that children can help with grooming and tacking up the horses, and parents can relax knowing their kids are in a safe environment.
Of course most families won’t be looking to spend their entire holiday in the saddle, and this is where Tuscany really comes into its own. In the immediate vicinity of your accommodation you’ll have options for activities such as marked woodland walks, barbecue picnics, pizza evenings or fun lessons in Italian cooking. You can also take daytrips into Florence where the thought of traditional ice cream to come should keep everyone happy for a few hours in a museum. Hiring a car can be a good idea, if you want to explore further afield in Tuscany, but is not essential.
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Point-to-point riding in Tuscany
For more advanced riders, there is the option of touring the idyllic Tuscan countryside point-to-point, led by an English-speaking local guide and staying in small hotels or farm centres. A popular route is one that takes you around various points of interest such as medieval villages, Romanesque churches, vineyards and a number of majestic Chianti castles. This kind of itinerary will typically involve longer rides, but they are broken up by pauses for wine tasting, barbecued lunches in old boarkeepers’ huts, and city visits such as to Siena with its famed Piazza del Campo.
Jenny Bawtree, from our supplier Agriturismo Rendola Riding:
“An unusual aspect of our rides is that they include also sightseeing with a guide, walks and wine-tasting, so we can offer holidays with very varied programmes. This type of trip tends to appeal more to older riders. (I had a gentleman of 94 doing one programme!)”
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