Italy Tuscany Trails Gualdo

Fantastic riding adventures based in the wildest of the Chianti regions of Tuscany, with access to 36 000 hectares of national park land, lakes, rivers and endless farmland which combine to provide exciting once-in-a-lifetime horseback adventures in Italy. The accommodation is at the Il Gualdo Farmhouse where you will find an atmosphere inspired by a genuine love of the local traditions of the places, people and culture that surrounds it. Food produce is local, and where possible is organic and typical of the area, reducing food miles. Wine is produced on the very terrain you ride across, and is of a very good quality. Local staff are employed. During this holiday you will meet local Tuscan people, and experience the culture that most tourists to Tuscany miss. Two trail rides are offered: the Medieval Castles trail (6 nights) and the Pomino Casentino Wine trail (7 nights). Both are centre-based rides in basic rustic farm accommodation within the grounds of Il Gualdo. The comfortable lodgings have been recently renovated and offer ensuite rooms and your own space to relax in and extensive gardens.

Where: This charming farm is at a height of 950 metres above sea level. situated above the village “Gualdo”, part of the Pratovecchio municipality, near Consuma. Consuma village is only 4 km away and Florence is about 30 km away, within easy reach with the bus service. Il Gualdo is on the border of the National Park of the Casentine forests and the CAI crest path runs past approximately 50 metres from the main house. (CAI= Club Alpino Italiano = Italian Alpine club which marks paths in the mountains and through wilderness). Your hosts Ilenia Pasquinucci and David Bindi look forward to welcoming you.

The Rides: Two different rides to choose from:

Trail 1: Pomino Casentino Wine Trail

Ride deep into Tuscany's spectacular landscape through the heart of the Casentino-Pomino, Chianti Rufina and Mugello regions. Discover the dramatic Mugello wilderness, take in some of the world's top wine regions, soak up Tuscan history, and indulge in local gastronomic delights accompanied by superb wines. Combine the charm of Tuscan villages with the beautiful countryside that the area has to offer. Ride along National Park tracks and through local vineyards to the beautiful Pomino and Sieve Valley areas.

Day 1 : Today depending on your arrival transportation, we will either meet you at Florence airport to transfer you to the farm, or if you decide to take the bus we will meet you at the bus station near the Consuma pass. After you have settled in we will have a drink on the terrace to get to know each other before dinner.

Day 2 : After breakfast we will show you the surroundings, the stables and the horses and we will talk about the riding week and events. your guides, will be leading you for the week and they are there to help you understand your horses and answer any questions you may have. After lunch you will see a short demonstration of natural training of horses explaining how is the best approach we should have with our horse. After the demonstration you will ride in the riding sandschool to get familiar with your horse and your saddle. Dinner at Gualdo farm with Chianti wine to perfectly compliment the Tuscan cuisine.

Day 3: In the morning after breakfast we will go to visit the town of Poppi. We will visit the inside of the castle and have a drink on the terrace. Tuscan picnic on the Casentino hills for lunch. In the afternoon you will ride to Consuma pass (1050 mt) to a famous little village for the “Schiacciata” which is a flat bread you can fill with porcini muschrooms, tomatoes, mozzarella and so on. You will then ride to the middle of the forest to an ancient church, then we will continue to a high part of the Pomino vineyards of the Frescobaldi wine dynasty. We will be back for dinner to cook Pizza in the wood-oven of the Gualdo-farm.

Day 4: After breakfast we start the full riding day to Pomino. We will come down from the mountain and ride along the vineyards to arrive to the Frescobaldi wine cellar of Pomino. We will visit the wine cellar and the little side chapel. After a picnic with wine from Chianti Rufina we ride past the vineyards and along rugged forest tracks. We will be back in Gualdo late afternoon to take a rest relaxing on deck-chairs in the garden before dinner.

Day 5: A day of fantastic riding up towards the Vallombrosa area, with its famous Abbey where some monks still live. The track to Vallombrosa is in the middle of a National Reserve Forest where (if we are lucky!) we can see wild animals like roes and deers. We will visit the Abbey and the renowned Pharmacy shop with typical products like honey, herbal drops, spirits etc. We will have lunch with roasted Tuscan sausages and steaks in the park near the lake in front of the Abbey. We will ride back to Gualdo climbing up to the Monte Secchieta where we will have a spectacular panorama on the Casentino valley.

Day 6: Today we ride to the Monte Falterona with its National Park, a spectacular natural paradise high above the Casentino area. Wild riding, through mountain trails surrounded by horse height green wild ferns, and purple wild flowers make this a fantastic final 2 days riding. Most of the time we will ride on the crest of the Appenine Mountain, the views both side are breathtaking! We will ride to “Capo D’Arno” where the source of river Arno is and where the poet Dante wrote some of the verses of the “Divina Commedia” – about this river which flows up to the Falterona Mountains, to Florence and then flowing into the Tyrrhenian Sea in Pisa. Near the source is a little historical lake with Etruscan origins. In the afternoon we will arrive at a nice isolated Farm called “La Casina” in the middle of the Falterona forest. Here we will overnight and we will have a typical Tuscan dinner with local products.

Day 7: Our ride today will be a mixture of nature, history and culture: we will ride down from the mountain to enter in the middle of the Casentino valley. We will visit two atmospheric medieval castles: Castello di Porciano which is near the small village Stia and Castello di Romena. The Tuscan history and culture will be accompaning us all the day. Final dinner all together at Gualdo.

Day 8: After breakfast, transfer to Florence airport or to the bus station for a sad farewell !

Trail 2: The Medieval Castles Trail

6 days/6 nights

Ride deep into Tuscany's spectacular landscape through the heart of the Casentino regions. A perfect combination between wild nature and intriguing history. You will discover ancient churches, monasteries and small villages. The Casentino valley is rich of medieval castles, visiting these fortresses by horse you will be catapulted in a fairy-tale epoch and you will experience and appreciate the Tuscan history from another point of view. Combine this with an excellent climate, superb food, fabulous wine and well-schooled horses, and you have the ingredients of an ideal holiday!

Itinerary:

Day 1 : Today depending on your arrival transportation, we will either meet you at Florence airport to transfer you to the country house, or if you decide to take the bus we will meet you at the bus station near the Consuma Pass. After you have settled in we will have a drink together to get to know each other before dinner.

Day 2 : After breakfast we will show you the surroundings, the stables and the horses and we will talk about the riding week. Your guide is there to help you understand your horses and answer any question you may have. The first approach with your horse will be in the riding sandschool to get familiar with your horse and your saddle. Your first ride out will be to the Consuma Pass (1050 mt) a small village famous for the “Schiacciata” which is a flat bread you can fill with porcini muschrooms, tomatos, mozzarella and so on. You will ride to the centre of the forest to an ancient church, then you will ride in the high part of the Pomino vineyards of the Frescobaldi wine dynasty. We will be back for dinner to cook “Pizza” in the wood-oven of the Gualdo-farm.

Day 3: After breakfast we will start the full riding day to Montemignaio. A nice village clinging to a mountain side. In the middle of the rural centre is the spectacular medieval castle with its imposing tower and a lot of small stoney houses all around the fortress. After visiting the castle we will have picnic in the large square in front of the tower and we will ride back through the beautiful chestnut woods. Dinner at Gualdo farm with Chianti Wine matched to Tuscan cuisine.

Day 4: A day of fantastic riding up towards the Vallombrosa area, with its famous Abbey where still some monks live. The track to Vallombrosa is in the middle of a National Reserve Forest where (if we are lucky!) we can see wild animals like roes, deers, wild boars and foxes. We will visit the Abbey and the renowned Natural Pharmacy Shop with typical products like honey, herbal drops, spirits etc. We will have picnic in the park near the lake in front of the Abbey. We will ride back to Gualdo climbing up to the Monte Secchieta (1450 mt) where we will have a spectacular panorama on the Casentino valley.

Day 5: Our ride today will be a mixture of nature, history and culture: we will ride down from the mountain to enter in the middle of the Casentino valley. We will visit two atmospheric medieval castles: Castello San Niccolò and Castello di Romena. The first is a nice fortress built on the mountain rocks with small lanes around stoney houses. The particularity of this castle is the high bell tower with a running big clock. The second castle is near a parish church: Pieve di Romena. These two buildings date from the beginning of the first century: the Romena Castle is the most ancient one and the Pieve di Romena is the most important church of the Casentino. In front of the Romena Castle is a beautiful meadow where we will have some time to relax while our horses graze happily next to us. We will ride along a pilgrim route to go back to Gualdo where we will have a nice dinner with Chianti Wine.

Day 6: Our last riding day will take us to two attractive castles: Castello Castagnaio and Castello di Porciano. Tuscan history and culture will be accompaning us throughout the day. We will ride along nice nature trails through oak and chestnut woods to arrive to the first fortress: Castello Castagnaio, this is a castle which was destroyed during the First World War, actually there is only one side of the high enclosure wall remaining, but the spectacular panorama on the Casentino valley is worth it! We will have pic nic at the foot of the wall before taking a shadowy path which arrives to the Castello di Porciano, which is near the small village Stia. Porciano castle is now owned by a very nice American woman who is happy to show riders around the castle and the interesting museum with old utensils and tools of the ancient farmer life. The last riding day will finish with a good-bye dinner at Gualdo.

Day 7: After breakfast, transfer to Florence airport or to the bus station for a sad farewell !

Required riding ability: Intermediate upward. Not suitable for beginners. Riders should be fully insured

Guest comments:

'I don’t think words can describe how fantastic the holiday was – we have never experienced anything like it. Judith and Claudio are fantastic hosts and made us feel so welcome. They are really lovely people and so too are all the other Italian friends of theirs we met whilst there. We were in raptures over the food and wine and in awe of the trekking. I felt really sad when it was time to come home to England.

The accommodation was perfect for us – it was great to have our own little place to retire to after a days riding. It was clean and catered for everything we needed. The farm was beautiful – a little piece of paradise, as was Tuscany itself. I hope this expresses how great it was. My husband was absolutely in his element regarding everything we did, saw and consumed!! Even more enthusiastic than me if that was possible. Hopefully we have made some really good friends in Judith and Claudio and will definitely be keeping in touch with them. Thanks you for all your efforts in arranging such a brilliant holiday for us.'

Karen and Kevin 2011

What a fantastic trip!!!! the only way to really see Tuscany at its best!! Jess and Paolo were the best guides you could ask for, nothing to much trouble made me feel really at home and part of the family!!! The accommodation was excellent the food wine and everything outstanding!!! The perfect holiday. Will certainly try to return!!! best wishes to you all!! and thanks for a great week, Kelly.

What a lovely week. I spent three weeks in Tuscany in September but after the week with you guys and the other motley crew that I met and rode with, I should have just headed on home. There was no comparison! I ride alot but I am a nervous trail rider and Brenna was just a trooper. She is so sensible and responsive. Thank you again for all of your hospitality and letting me see this beautiful region by the best mode of transport known - horses. Thanks again,
Teressa

We had a wonderful time with you in September. Paolo is such a considerate guide for both horses and riders and was quick to knowledge when he felt we were ready for bigger things!!! The horses were so well mannered and ready for anything. Your hospitality was excellent with great attention to detail and the lodging at Il Colognole was perfect. We will certainly return.
Anne.

Getting there

The nearest airport is Florence Peretola (c.65km). Return transfer costs £100 return per car (£50 pp based on 2 travelling). Pisa airport is also a possibility and return transfers cost £260 per car (£130 pp based on 2 travelling).

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. Avis car hire can also be arranged at the airport (approx €300 for 7 days).


Riding

Saddles: Western, Endurance, Trekking.
Style of riding : relaxed english/western. Caps and chaps are available but you are advised to bring your own.


Required riding ability: Intermediate upward. Not suitable for beginners. Riders should be fully insured.

Best time to go

Tuscany has a temperate climate due to the proximity of the coast, but it gets very hot in July and August. Riding in Tuscany is perfect in the Spring to see the glorious meadows filled with wild flowers and Autumn to see the red and golden colours of the beech and chestnut woods and of course, the grape harvest. Actual weather.

Please contact us for a price and to check availability.