Enjoy the best that Italy has to offer; outstanding food, fun and varied riding in a glorious setting and hosts that welcome you like long lost friends.
This riding centre was founded more than 30 years ago and has carved a reputation as one of the best-run riding establishments in Umbria. In a panoramic setting, surrounded by woodland and overlooking mountains and valleys on all sides, the stables are the perfect antidote to the stress and strains of everyday life. The centre is also the largest of its kind in central Italy.
The centre is a family venture in the best Italian tradition, headed by two brothers, Agostino and Giancarlo Bevilacqua. They are helped by their four children, all expert riders, and their wives Giuliana and Clara, who are amazing cooks! Clare, a British ex-pat who has been living in Italy for a number of years, is on hand to guide trails and be your point of contact.
Explore rolling mountains, hidden valleys and medieval hill villages in this unspoilt corner of Umbria, where time has stood still. Take a day ride to a nearby swimming pool to soak away those aches and pains, and during the summer months experience the magic of a night ride lit by fireflies. There is excellent riding available for experienced riders. Either tuition, with show jumping as a specialty, or endless rides in all directions to explore the surrounding countryside are available. Beginners and novice riders can also receive lessons appropriate to their level as can children.
For those wanting to explore further on this riding holiday, the stables are just 13 km from Spoleto, a Roman, medieval and Renaissance jewel and a great place to spend some time for riders and non-riders alike. The larger towns of Assisi, Perugia, Orvieto and Todi are all within easy reach as are many of the vineyards of the region. Only a short drive or train ride from Rome this holiday is also perfect for a short break in the Eternal City at the start or end of your holiday.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from RM of London on 13/10/2016
There are several different riding programmes available. Please advise which you would like when booking.
Programme A - for Experienced riders
This programme is available for experienced riders on set dates.
In warmer months, and in times of a full (or nearly full) moon, it may be possible to replace a full day ride with a memorable Night Ride up onto the mountain of Monte Acetella. Riders are met by the stables' jeep, and served a camp-fire supper as they scan the skies for shooting stars. The return leg of the journey takes place by the light of the moon. Lessons can be substituted for trail riding where one hour of lessons is equivalent to 2 hours of trail riding.
Programme A - for Beginner Riders
This programme is available for beginner riders on set dates.
The week involves walking and some trotting and less time in the saddle than the experienced programme, though it does build up to two full day rides and one that is slightly shorter.
It is suitable for guests who are relatively new to riding, including beginners, and the pace can be adapted according to ability. In warmer months, and in times of a full (or nearly full) moon, it may be possible to replace a full day ride with a memorable Night Ride up onto the mountain of Monte Acetella. Riders are met by the stables' jeep, and served a camp-fire supper as they scan the skies for shooting stars. The return leg of the journey takes place by the light of the moon. Lessons can be substituted for trail riding with about one hour of lesson time being equivalent to 2 hours of trails riding.
Programme B - Umbrian Summer Adventure Programme
This special summer itinerary involves an optional night out camping on Day 2 where you will be served a 3 course meal on top of the world! Those not wanting to camp will be driven back to the stables and brought back after breakfast the next day. This itinerary takes place on the dates with a * in the dates section above. A minimum of 4 riders are required for this programme; if this is not met the standard Umbrian Adventure (beginner or experienced) programme will run.
There is also the option of the Night Ride, detailed above. Extra riding lessons with expert tuition in show jumping or flatwork are available on all holidays at an additional cost.
Along with the horses, the beautiful food and warm hospitality from your hosts makes this ride very special; multi course lunches and dinners are lovingly homemade and use the freshest ingredients meaning no one goes hungry here! Enjoy antipasti, soup, organic meats, pasta and of course beautiful desserts whilst sitting with the family chatting about your day, and of course washing it all down with good quality wine from the region. There is also a wine tasting session during one of the rides.
Other activities: Fancy a half day white water rafting experience? Available on all riding holidays as an alternative to a half day ride this excursion costs approximately €65, payable locally. The stables will transport you for free to enjoy a fun descent on the beautiful River Corno. Each boat is manned by expert guides and this activity is suitable for all ages, from 5 to 75, as it is safe and relatively gentle rafting (though exciting enough to feel you have done something adventurous!). Wet suits, lifejackets and helmets are provided but bring along a towel and swimming costume.
Special day ride: In the summer months, the hosts may offer to take guests to Castelluccio di Norcia for a truly unforgettable day ride. This is a suspended mountain plateau in one of Italy’s loveliest national parks, about one hour’s drive away. You will visit and ride through lakes where there are wild horses and foals and riders can canter over the spectacular mountain plain, which is covered with wild orchids and narcissi. Horses are taken by horsebox and guests by jeep. Supplement payable locally to cover transport €80.
Wine tasting: Guests who are interested will be taken to a local enoteca for a memorable session tasting Umbrian wines and sampling the excellent local olive oil on bruschetta. Supplement payable locally approximately €15.
The Bevilaqua family also run the following programmes:
Show Jumping Combo - Enjoy lessons taught by Count Adolfo Poli or the Centre's main instructor Andrea Bevilacqua, both trained FISE instructors with years of experience teaching show jumping and dressage. In addition to the invaluable lessons you will also have the chance to ride out and explore the beautiful surrounding countryside. Beginners and novice riders can also receive lessons appropriate to their level as can children, and dressage tuition is also available.
Umbrian Summer Highlights - All the highlights of the Umbrian Week in a shorter, 5 night package! Includes a night’s camping on top of a mountain with a three-course dinner as well as a night ride with a stop for a barbeque dinner on the way before getting back on the horses to ride home by moonlight.
Umbrian Short Break in the Saddle - This is a 4 night package with riding on 3 days; ideal for a quick getaway to sunny Umbria or for adding onto a trip to Rome perhaps. Experience unspoilt Umbria on beautiful horses whilst being treated as one of the family, this is such a welcoming break.
Please enquire if you have younger children who would like to ride.
Car transfer from Perugia is €100 per car each way for 1-4 people. Car transfer from Rome is €200 per car each way for 1-4 people. Once at your destination transport can be arranged to and from Spoleto (13km) and other nearby places for a modest charge. A hire car is a good idea if you wish to explore the area in the afternoons and evenings, whilst not in the saddle.
The Umbrian Summer Adventure programme will run with a minimum of 4 riders. If this minimum number is not reached the normal Umbrian Adventure programme will run instead.
In summer months, all guests will have access to a swimming pool located in a picturesque village 5 mins drive from the stables. Transport can be provided. There will be a modest charge, payable locally. There is an optional day ride with a stopover for a fantastic lunch served near the pool, and the afternoon spent in the pool before riding back in the early evening. This will take the place of one of the other scheduled day rides. It’s been a great hit with all who have done it so far. Again, a modest supplement (€15) is payable locally.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There are 65 horses of all types available at the stable. They are without exception in excellent condition and well schooled. Anglo-Arabs, Maremanni (a sturdy local breed), Thoroughbreds and Argentinians are the main breeds. They vary in size from 13.2-16.2 hh. All are shod and several are trained in neck reining. There is a variety of tack from English saddles, Trekking saddles (large comfortable Western-style saddles), Western and Endurance saddles. The temperament of the horses varies from docile schoolmasters to suit novices to more lively rides for experienced riders. All are very sure footed in the steep terrain and totally traffic proof, though roadwork is minimal. Horses will be prepared, saddled and cared for by the grooms and guides, but the spirit is friendly and informal and anyone wanting to help will be very welcome. The ride leader carries saddle bags with essential items such as water for en route necessities. It is advisable to bring a small bum bag that can be strapped around your waist to carry items you might need on the ride such as sunglasses, camera, sun block, gloves etc although many horses have numnahs fitted with small pockets for carrying small water bottles etc. A wide range of riding hats suitable for children and adults are available on site, and it is compulsory for all riders to wear one. Body protectors are compulsory for jumping lessons and can be borrowed on site.
Riders of all levels are catered to with an appropriate mix of tuition and riding out thus there is no previous experience necessary.
There are frequent opportunities to trot and canter for experienced riders as well as jumping in classes.
There is no minimum age for arena riding. There is a minimum age of 14 for the riding out programme, although experienced younger riders may be accepted.
There is no weight limit within reason.
All accommodation is in self-contained apartments at the riding centre. These are attractively built in traditional Umbrian style and equipped and furnished to a high standard. Each apartment has a room with one double bed and a sofa bed in the living room. There is an en suite bathroom with shower, toilet and bidet. The rooms are comfortably furnished with good quality bed linen, towels etc. The living room has a fridge, TV and cooking facilities (although the holiday is fully catered). Rooms are not cleaned during your stay, but you may request clean towels etc within reason. Next door is the club house with a dining room and bar where all meals are taken. From the club house there are views over the riding arenas as well as spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The attractive out door patio and seating area has similarly vast views over the surrounding countryside. This is a family-run organisation and food is prepared by your hosts with outside help as necessary. A typical meal would be as follows: Breakfast Coffee, cappuccino, tea, yoghurt, home-made cake, bread and jams. Lunch A picnic lunch may consist of home-made frittata (omelette) made with wild asparagus, pizza stuffed with sausage and greens, home-cooked porchetta (Umbrian roast pork cooked with garlic and fennel), or sausages cooked over an open fire, salad, wine and coffee Dinner A pasta dish based on local products such as wild mushrooms or asparagus in season, followed by a meat dish, e.g. local grilled lamb with potatoes and a vegetable dish, e.g. chicory, salad. Home-made dessert followed by coffee and liqueurs (grappa, limoncello etc) and the inevitable espresso. In summer months, all guests will have access to a swimming pool located in a picturesque village 5 mins drive from the stables. Transport can be provided. There will be a small charge, payable locally. There is also an optional day ride to the swimming pool, which may replace another day ride in summer. There is a long stop for lunch and swims before riding back in the early evening. Modest supplement, payable locally.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
This beautiful and unspoilt corner of Umbria has something to offer all year round, though January and February can sometimes be too cold and icy for safe riding.
Spring (mid March onwards) is a lovely time, with wild asparagus on the hillsides. May and June are particularly good months, as the wild flowers are in full bloom and temperatures have not become too hot. For the same reason, September, and early October are good choices.
In July and August, unlike many other regions of Italy, the temperature is not excessive in this part of Umbria. The high altitude means the heat is never unbearable and the riding is tailored to allow longer lunch stops, avoiding the hottest part of the day.
This is a mountain setting, so in late Autumn (November/December), temperatures do fall, but this period can produce some very good riding weather with the added bonus of the roast chestnuts for which this region is famous, new wine (mid-November) and new olive oil (early December).
Camera film and batteries can be purchased in nearby towns but we suggest that you take along plenty to see you through your holiday. Digital cameras can be charged in your accommodation.
Riding trousers or jodhpurs
Riding boots, paddock boots or riding trainers (with heel) that are comfortable to walk in.
Riding hat with brim
Lip-balm with sunscreen
Hard hat (it is recommended to bring your own if you have one as this is always the best fit, a selection is available on site)
Insect repellent spray/cream
Half chaps (optional)
Camera and film
T-shirts and shorts
Lightweight long sleeved shirts
Heavy sweater or sweatshirt*
Informal/casual wear for evenings
Copy of passport
All terrain sandals
Wearing a waist pouch is a handy method for keeping items such as camera and lip-balm readily accessible.
Riding hats are compulsory.
There are daily rides from the base. Three days are day-long rides and three are a morning or afternoon ride and an hour's tution. The program is very flexible and can be tailor made to suit the requirements of individual participants. Novices go on shorter trails with only walking and trotting, usually meeting the experienced riders for lunch.
A typical day-long ride takes riders through chestnut groves and open countryside, to the now uninhabited Monastery of Battiferro. This lovely ride, which passes through breathtaking scenery, involves 5-6 hours in the saddle with a break for lunch in a peaceful glade. Other rest breaks will be worked into the ride if necessary, or if weather is hot. Total distance covered around 35 kms.
For children who cannot go on the trail rides there are lessons and pony games on offer with the instructors (approx 2 hours a day). Children can then by driven to the day's lunch spot to join their parents/older siblings for lunch. The pony games form an important part of each lesson.
The terrain is varied, passing through woodland trails, and open meadows, with a small amount of roadwork on quiet country roads with little traffic. Some parts are steep and may involve riders dismounting to lead their horses for a few hundred yards. Qualified English speaking guides are always on hand to help dismount and remount. One guide to every 5-6 riders. Max number of riders in group: 10.
If you choose tuition this will take place in one of two large outdoor arenas will all necessary facilities. All instructors have Federazione Italiana Sport Equestre (FISE) qualifications. This roughly translates as the BHS instructor qualifications. Please see the Show Jumping and Dressage Combo webpage on our website.
In summer, night rides are organised, along tracks and trails lit only by the full moon, where riders are met with a supper of grilled meats and local wine, as they scan the mountain skies for shooting stars.
2017: 25 Mar; 12 Apr; 6 May; 3 Jun; 8 Jul; 22 Jul*; 5*, 19 Aug; 9, 30 Sept; 21 Oct (* denotes summer programme available)
Dates on request for groups of 2 or more for Umbrian Adventure and 4 or more for the Summer Adventure.
From:No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2017||8d/7n||6||own chalet - single supplement||159|
|2017||8d/7n||6||Child under 12 not riding||789|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2017||8d/7n||6||own chalet - single supplement||169|
|2017||8d/7n||6||Child under 12 not riding||845|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2017||8d/7n||6||own chalet - single supplement||205|
|2017||8d/7n||6||Child under 12 not riding||1,019|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2017||8d/7n||6||own chalet - single supplement||1,709|
|2017||8d/7n||6||Child under 12 not riding||8,545|
The riding stables are situated in some of the most spectacular countryside to be found anywhere in Italy.
Set up on a plateau overlooking the mountains and valleys around Spoleto, the scenery is stunning, with varied landscapes ranging from craggy rocks and peaks to soft rolling hills and cool and quiet woodland, home to porcupines, woodpeckers and wild boar.
If you have arranged a car rental for your stay there are a large number of sights in the area and your hosts are always ready with information, suggestions, guide books and routes.
The area immediately surrounding the riding centre is a good place for walks, with trails leading off through the chestnut woods. Guided walks to collect wild asparagus (Spring) or mushrooms (Autumn) can be arranged at a reasonable cost.
Rafting (approx £45 for 2-3 hours) and cycling is available nearby for a reasonable cost. Visits to Spoleto, Assisi can be arranged if own transport is not available.
Italy forms a peninsula in Southern Europe extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, Elba and about 70 other smaller islands. It is mostly mountainous, though between the Apennines (which form the spine of Italy) and the eastern coastline there are the fertile plains of Emilia-Romagna in the north and of Puglia in the south. The Alps in the north divide Italy from France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
The Roman Empire was once the most powerful in the world, covering Europe and extending into modern day Asia. Their horsemanship skills second only to the Mongols further east. The incredibly cultured and refined Roman culture still leaves its mark across Europe and has been the foundation for countless artistic movements, including the Renaissance, through cities such as Florence and the medieval university city of Bologna.
Italians are understandably proud of their heritage and are renowned as people of great taste and as having an eye for the aesthetic. Their architecture and fashion leave most of the world in their shadow, appearance is very important to them and the majority of Italians will never leave the house without ensuring they are impeccably and elegantly attired.
Italian food, from pizza to pasta, has been commandeered by the rest of the world but you will never taste a better pizza anywhere else. As with the rest of mainland Europe meals are eaten late with plenty of wine and preferably al fresco.
Italy is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. (There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram).
The international dialling code is +39.
Important information regarding rail travel:
Visitors are often caught unawares by train and transport systems requiring validation. Tickets bought in Italy for Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains are not marked for any particular time or train and become valid only when time-stamped at a validation machine. Without this validation, train operators assume the rider is trying to fare dodge, since the ticket could be reused. So validation is absolutely essential before boarding, and there are small boxes in the station or near the platform. After being time-stamped, the ticket is valid for the amount of time shown on the ticket.