Orthal Riding Centre, Northern Italy

The Orthal riding centre is based on the L'Altopiano di Asiago, a sunny plateau overlooking the Venetian plains and with views stretching to the Dolomites. It is at a thousand meters above sea level, with higher mountains all around which extend up to 2000m, making it a perfect location for both summer and winter sports' lovers. Massimo Rigoni is the charming owner who will take you on half-day or full day hacks through alpine woodland with views overlooking the plateau, the Dolomites and the Veneto plain. Riding lessons for all ages. Family ski-ing area during the winter months. Authentic Italian food and culture. Stay at the 2* Orthal Albergo right at the stables or at the 4* Gaarten Spa hotel nearby (free shuttle provided) which provides luxury accommodation with lovely indoor pool for those wanting a few more facilities at their disposal.Join one of our Riding with Fruits of the Forest Cookery courses and get an authentic insight into Italian food and mountain traditions. Gather your own herbs and mushrooms in the forest on horse-back, then learn how to use them to make something delicious !

Horse-Riding in Asiago

Until recently Massimo Rigoni, instructor and owner of the Orthal riding centre has catered exclusively for Italian riders. However, we have convinced him to apply his excellent horsemanship to English speakers who enjoy Massimo's lessons just as much as the rewarding hacks out to the mountains surrounding the hotel. Very few places in Europe can offer so many off-road tracks through woodland steeped in history and affording views of the Dolomites as well as the Veneto plain. Ideal for novice, intermediate and experienced riders. Massimo will take complete beginners through their first paces and is excellent with children.

About the horses

The tack is English and the horses are mostly French and German thoroughbreds. The stables house as many as 30 horses so there is plenty of scope to find a suitable personality and size for you from the gentle, docile type to the more sensitive horse requiring a light hand and confident rider. Many horses have been with Massimo for years and as he relys on surprisingly few stable-hands so you can imagine how close his relationship with them is.

About Massimo

After several years as an Olympic Gold Medalist on the Italian Ski-Jumping team, Massimo chose to stay closer to the ground with competitive horse jumping. As soon as he qualified as an instructor for the Federazione Italiano di Sport Equestri, he dedicated his time to his family hotel which he runs with his brother Paolo. Over 20 years experience of teaching people of all ages and abilities, Massimo has a considerable number of regular clients who travel from all over Italy to receive his instruction – most of whom feel they have grown up with Massimo creating a friendly atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome. The riding is not competetive and does not concentrate on a single decipline, the riding is about you, your horse and riding in the mountains.

Riding Company rep: local English ex-pat Nikki Clover will be on hand to organise any special excursions, arrange car hire, or sort out any special requests you may have.

RIDING AND FRUITS OF THE FOREST COOKERY: Gourmet riding week

AN INSIGHT TO ITALIAN FOOD AND MOUNTAIN TRADITIONS - about mountain herbs, flowers and mushrooms.

contact us for dates of next trip or see below in pricing section.

ORTHAL HOTEL, ASIAGO (including non-riders) Itinerary:

Sunday: Transfer max 2hrs from Treviso airportThere are two ways to greet people in the Altopiano di Asiago: with a refreshing and bubbly Prosecco or a tangy Spritz Macchiato.....and while you are relaxing you can meet our team at the Orthal: Massimo your riding instructor and his brother Paolo, your host and chef. Nikki, The Riding Company representative will also join the group to welcome you. Dinner at the hotel.

Monday: In-school riding will give you, Massimo and his horses an opportunity to get to know each other before going on a hack tomorrow. Lunch at the hotel. Some free time to relax or ride until early evening when we'll take you to small restaurant called 'Da Pippo' where Francesca and her husband Pippo will show you how to prepare some original 'antipasto' and authentic first courses. Pippo's knowledge of unusual wines to match his wife's culinary gifts will turn this evening into a gourmet delight.

Tuesday : Your first hack into to woods. After lunch Paolo will hold a cookery lesson on dishes with a distinct mountain flavour. Dinner at the hotel. Antonio Cantele, our herbalist will give you one of his special brews while he introduces you to the season's wild flowers and mushrooms.

Wednesday : Full day ride & field meet with Antonio Cantele – non riders can join the riders by foot or mtb. Lunch in a mountain refuge where local cheeses and salame are available. Dinner at the hotel.

Thursday : Morning dedicated to riding/ or free followed by an early lunch at the hotel. Afternoon visit to a small vineyard favoured by Paolo and Pippo. Then onto the beautiful town of Bassano-del-Grappa and heart of Grappa distilleries. You'll be free to visit a distillery museum and go shopping until your return to the hotel for dinner.

Friday. A lesson or hack in the now familiar mountains – followed by your last cookery lesson when you can choose what to prepare for dinner. Grappa is essentially a 'digestivo' and this would be your occasion to make sure you are familiar with all local flavours.

Saturday: Asiago Market may entice you away from the stables with a chance to ride in the afternoon. 7.30 meet up at the Europa Hotel in the town centre for a wonderful tasting of food and wines to compliment everything you have learnt and enjoyed during your week in Plateau of Asiago.

Sunday: Transfer to Treviso airport

Includes: 7 nights full-board in the Orthal Hotel excellent quality 2 star hotel. Airport transfers, 15 hrs riding, 3 cookery lessons, introduction and field meet with our herbalist, Vineyard & Bassano del Grappa, 1 dinner & demonstration at the Appaloosa and 1 dinner at the St. Hubertus Europa Hotel. Use of mountain bike.Lunch on the full day ride and drinks are not included.

THE GAARTEN HOTEL, GALLIO (including non-riders). Groups of 4 to 6 or more people. Itinerary:

Sunday: Transfer from Treviso airport max 2 hrs.

Once you've settled in you'll meet our representative Nikki Clover for an 'aperativo' – an opportunity to discuss the week and make any special requests. Dinner at the Hotel Gaarten Restaurant.

Monday: Transfer to the stables to meet Massimo Rigoni, your instructor for the week. Riding in the arena to select and know your horse.

Monday afternoon : your first cookery lesson with Francesa at the Appaloosa Gallio restaurant. Anti pasti and first courses being the theme, followed by dinner . A healthy walk back to the hotel.

Tuesday: Your first ride out for 2.30 hrs. Afternoon, more riding or enjoy the hotel spa. Late afternoon or evening meeting with Antonio Cantele, herbalist, to introduce you to the season's wildflowers e/o mushrooms and taste his home brew.

Wednesday: Full day ride including a field meet with Antonio (non-riders can walk, cycle or be driven). The food will be local cheeses and salame.

Thursday: More riding in the morning with a cookery lesson with Francesca in the afternoon to learn about cooking with herbs, mushrooms and wild flowers – to be enjoyed for dinner.

Friday: Flexible to ride or relax. Early afternoon transfer to a vineyard and Bassano del Grappa.

Saturday: Last ride in the now familiar woods of Asiago. A market in Asiago may entice you away from the stables with a chance to ride later in the day. 7.30 meet in Asiago at the Europa Hotel for an end-of-holiday special dinner and last chance to taste our local wines and grappa.

Sunday: Transfer to Treviso airport.

This holiday includes: 7 nights BB at the Gaarten 4* spa hotel, 4 x dinners, 2 x cookery sessions, 1 intro to mountain flora and field meeting with our expert. 15 hours riding and a trip to vineyard and Bassano del Grappa. Use of mountain bike.

Lunches, 3 dinners and all drinks are not included.

Activities for non-riders and rest days

The area of Asiago has over 600km of safe trails which are perfect for mountain biking and road cycling (a very big sport in Italy), nordic walking and hiking. The Asiago golf club has several times been nominated the most beautiful 18 hole golf course. Cultural visits to historical cities nearby such as Verona, Vicenza and Padua with guided tours of the Palladian villas. Eating and drinking is a real treat in this quiet, untouristy area; Asiago cheese is well-known, the local cusine is mostly Italian with a few Cimbrian traditions and nearby vineyards offer excellent wines. Wine-tasting day trips can be arranged. Veneto is the home of Prosecco and Grappa.

In summer, we can organise a full (non-riding) sports programme including white water rafting on a local river. There is an extreme sport centre 'Team Sport Emozione' nearby which offers bungee jumping, rafting, hidrobob and para gliding. The bungee jumping, is done on the Val Gardena bridge and is said to be the highest jump in Europe. Rafting and hidrobob are practiced along the Brenta river which flows at the foot of the Altopiano. The paragliding base is at Val Maron in the Comune of Enego where it is also possible to fly together with the instructor in a two-seater glider or you can take lessons. Perfect for something different on a day off from riding! Nordic walking and hiking guide also available.

Winter riding and ski-ing:The Orthal Albergo is situated right on the ski piste which has two ski lifts - perfect for children or adults learning to ski. The hotel has its own ski school and ski hire depot. There are a further 3, larger ski resorts in the immediate area (car hire recommended). Snow cannons are widely available to ensure good snow cover. The Altopiano plateau is the home of cross-country skiing where even the Swedish national team come to train! Toboganning and snow-shoeing are also great favourites. Ice skating and dog-sledding are also available.

Accommodation

The 2* Orthal Albergo is a true definition of a 'family-run hotel' which Massimo runs together with his brother Paolo. This 2* hotel is a comfortable, unfussy hotel which has been recently modernised in the local style. The evening meal is from a set menu of local Italian and regional home-cooked dishes. Good selection of local wines and grappa to accompany your meal. Bar and sauna. The rooms have bathrooms ensuite and are spacious enough to cater for families, many with a balcony. The hotel is situated outside Asiago, but within walking distance to the town centre. The hotel has its own ski slopes, ski school and ski /snowboard hire. Bike hire in summer.

The 4* Gaarten Hotel This luxurious spa hotel is in the heart of the village of Gallio on the other side of Asiago, walking distance from bars, restaurants and shops. Local market on Saturday mornings in Asiago. It is about 15 minutes drive away from the Orthal Riding Centre. Free shuttle bus provided or we can arrange car hire (at extra cost). The hotel offers a range of excellent facilities including a Spa offering a full range of massages and beauty treatments, saunas and steam-rooms and lovely indoor pool, very comfortable accommodation and a choice of family suites. Cosy wood panelled bar and restaurant. serving excellent food. Bike hire. The hotel is situated in the centre of the village, near 2 downhill ski centres.

Season dates for Orthal Albergo : Winter season: 15/12 to 15/03/09, Summer season: 01/06 to 20/09/09 and all bank holidays.

Getting there

Treviso airport is the closest (1.5 hours) and both Marco Polo (Venice) and Verona airports are within 2 hrs by minibus. All airports have good links to Vicenza or Bassano train stations, from where we can arrange transport to the hotel. We can arrange all transfers, whether by train, minibus, taxi or helicopter ! A week's car hire from Verona starts at £136 with Hertz (www.hertz.co.uk )

Airline links:
http://www.easyjet.com/en/book/index.asp
http://www.britishairways.com/travel/home/public/en_gb
http://www.ryanair.com/site/EN/ (Verona and Treviso)
http://www.bmibaby.com/bmibaby/html/en/splash.htm

Online flight search:
http://www.kayak.co.uk/
http://www.ebookers.com/shop/home?tduid=9210b16bd8156719cced40be675a74a2

If you prefer not to book a self-drive holiday, we offer a daily car-hire service (£33 - £50 per day) which would enable you to visit many of the famous attractions such as Palladian villas in Vicenza or Bassano del Grappa. By car take A4 & Valdastico motorways to Asiago (1.30hrs).

Self-drive: Car rental can be booked easily and inexpensively online with Holiday Autos. Please tell us so that we can reduce the quote of your holiday.

Train travel: For everything you need to know about any train journey visit Seat Sixty-One.

Minimum riding age 8 years.

Weight limit 15 stone (95kg).

To check out the local weather (Vicenza) http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/5day.shtml?world=5059

May to October is the main season and has mostly warm sunny weather, but rainwear is always advisable for occasional showers. Riding is possible here throughout the year and especially during the winter months when riding in the snow can be combined with ski-ing and other winter sports.