Taking a break in the sunshine
In front of the monastery
Riding through the flower meadows
Chariot trail ride
Medieval towns
Views over the mountains
Monastery trail
Medieval towns
The monastery
Refreshments on the trail
Monastery
Hidden medieval towns
The pool at the riding centre
Riding centre accommodation next to the pool
Agriturismo accommodation on the trail
Double room at the agriturismo
Horses grazing by the monastery
Horses accommodation on the trail

Discover the extraordinary natural beauty of Umbria, Italy's green heart, on this six day ride. High quality horses,  flower-filled alpine meadows and mouthwatering food all await you on this relaxing trail. You'll explore hidden medieval villages and spend the night at a traditional agriturismo, where you'll refuel with a home cooked multi-course meal. Continue on to spend the night in a former monastery before heading back to base. Prepare to be thoroughly taken in by Umbria's charms on this ride suitable for fit, novice riders onwards.

Once you've landed in Italy (fly to either Rome or Perugia) you'll be whisked away, high up into the Umbrian hills and just a 15 minute drive from the unspoiled hilltop town of Spoleto. Here your first nights accommodation await complete with swimming pool and a large equestrian centre with breathtaking views. Experience an authentic Italian family atmosphere and indulge in a multi-course dinner made with local produce. Waking up fully refreshed you'll be paired with your four-legged partner for the trail. The guides at this destination are experts at matching horses and riders and with two large stableyards there are plenty of horses to choose from. All are highly schooled, responsive and sure-footed on the steep Umbrian hillsides.

Over the next couple of days you'll be exploring the surrounding region on horseback. The trail takes you through cool forests, rolling hills and through leafy river valleys. You'll learn the story of Umbria's missing Roman chariot dated to c. 530 BC, and considered one of the world's great archaeological finds. The pace of riding is comfortable and relaxed, with plenty of opportunities for cantering through the woodland paths. You'll be sure to eat well as this destination; lunches are extensive picnics served in a picturesque spot en route. Dinners with plenty of wine are at hand-picked agriturismos renowed for their food. Along the route your knowledgeable guides, will point out delicate wild flowers and fill you in on the Umbrian way of life. By evening you'll have reached your base for day 2 & 3, a gorgeous, luxury agriturismo nestled within the hamlet of Montelone. Rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated, offering a welcome respite from the hours spent in the saddle. 

After two days at Montelone you'll continue on, reaching the former Benedictine monastery where you will spend the evening. Rooms are basic but comfortable and the food more than makes up for the simple sleeping quarters. Once you've had your fill it's time to rest up before the final days riding the next day. You'll spend a final night back at the riding centre where you'll be treated to one last family dinner before heading back to the airport the following day.

This destination offers excellent, responsive horses and extensive natural beauty. This is a less discovered region than neighbouring Tuscany and this trail is ideal for those who want to escape the tourist crowds and enjoy excellent riding, guiding and food all set among spectacular, unspoilt countryside.

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Day 1
Arrive at the riding centre, meet your hosts and fellow riders and enjoy a three course, home-cooked meal in the clubhouse. Spend the evening in the onsite accommodation at the riding centre and enjoy an evening drink from the terrace offering spectacular views over the region.

Day 2
Today you'll be matched with your horse for the trail. Your hosts are experts at matching horse and rider and with a large stable, there are plenty of horses to choose from. Once happy with your mount you'll set off on hiden paths through the woods until you reach the pretty medieval, hill town of Monteleone di Spoleto, which is tucked away in the hills of the wild and spectacular Valnerina valley. We start the ride by meeting up with the horses, which will have been trucked to the village of Precetto. Perched on the other side of the bubbling River Nera from its twin village of Ferentillo, Precetto is a place where little has changed over the years, and both villages are guarded by ancient towers against marauding invaders.

From here, you'll ride along a track that gradually winds up into the hills, passing the old customs point between the papal states and the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, where the papal symbol of St Peter’s Keys can still be seen. This area is still known locally as the Salto del Cieco (Blindman’s Leap), after a band of brigands whose leader pretended to be a blind beggar, before robbing passing travellers and hurling them to their deaths. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch near here, with wine of course, and carry on over the crest of the hill where Monteleone di Spoleto beckons in the distance. After riding along winding trails with amazing view in every direction we’ll stop at the very comfortable agritourism just outside Monteleone di Spoleto, which will be home for us and our horses for the next 2 nights. Dinner and overnight.

Day 3
Today, after a breakfast based on local products, you'll ride on mainly level terrain along gentle paths around Monteleone di Spoleto. Some 100 years ago, a Roman chariot was found by a local peasant farmer in his field, who unwittingly sold it to a trader for a very small sum. The chariot is now in New York and the object of a very bitter struggle, though you can admire the replica in the town itself. We'll have a picnic lunch before continuing the ride around Monteleone, with plenty of canters for those who want to. Dinner and overnight. 

Day 4 
Today we leave Monteleone di Spoleto and ride down a different trail, passing through the dramatically poised hill villages of Gavelli and Caso, where we will stop for lunch. From there, we ride towards Scheggino, a pretty little town on the river’s edge that is famous for the trout that swim right through the town centre. We carry on our ride along gentle paths until we reach Sant’Anatolia di Narco, and the former Benedictine monastery, now hotel, that will be our home for this night. The horses will be let out to graze nearby and fed and settled while we take showers. Dinner and overnight. Our bags will have been delivered by car in the meantime.

Day 5
After breakfast, we saddle up and ride along the banks of the beautiful River Nera, passing an ancient abbey and a number of villages. There will be a chance for some trotting and cantering, before we enter the village of Ferentillo, where the horse box and cars will be waiting to take us all back to base. Overnight at the riding centre.

Day 6
Departure day. Enjoy breakfast and perhaps one last dip in the pool before packing up and heading home.

 

Additional nights: Riders have the option of adding additional nights onto this programme. These will be spent staying in the on-site accommodation at the riding centre. Each day you can choose to have a morning lesson followed by lunch in the clubhouse and a half-day ride up on to the hills or a full-day ride with picnic lunch. Additional nights are full board and include meals and drinks with meals (including wine).

Swimming pool: A brand new swimming pool has been recently completed with spectacular views over the hills and valley. 

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 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.

Umbrian Adventure and Trails - This ride caters for everyone from beginners to experienced riders with its based stay and trail itineraries. The summer itinerary involves an optional night camping by Roman Ruins and this riding centre will also give you the opportunity to experience a magical night ride lit by the full moon and fireflies.

Transfers options:
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.

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.

Horses & Riding

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. All trail horses have numnahs fitted with pockets for carrying small water bottles, mobile phones, cameras 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.


Rider requirements

This trail is suitable for novice riders onwards and if necessary groups can be split according to ability. A reasonable level of fitness is required for this trail as you can be riding up to 6 hours a day on steep terrain. Although you will have an extended break for lunch, you must be comfortable riding all day. There is a weight limit of 100kg but please enquire if you are an experienced rider over the weight limit.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 16 st/220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

You'll spent the first and last night at your hosts' base: a large equestrian centre situated on a mountain plateau. From your room you'll enjoy spectacular views over the surrounding forest and you'll be within easy reach of the swimming pool (with built in Jacuzzi) and cosy clubhouse where meals will be served. The rooms are self-contained apartments or comfortable en-suite bedrooms, attractively built in traditional Umbrian style and comfortably furnished with good quality bed linen, and towels. 

Your first stop on the trail is a small medieval village where you will spend two nights in a luxious agriturismo. Even the horses sleep in upmarket accommodation! Rooms are spacious twins or doubles with private bathrooms. You'll then move onto an ex-Benedictine monastery, which is really beautiful (though not luxurious), with incredible food. Again, the horses are well looked after, spending the night in the meadow down below, next to a running stream, so you'll be able to see them from the bedroom window.



This is a family-run organisation and food is prepared by your hosts with outside help as necessary. A typical meal would be:




  • Breakfast: coffee, cappuccino, tea, yoghurt, home-made cake, pastries 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. Homemade dessert followed by coffee and liqueurs (grappa, limoncello etc).


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:

Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas issues and emergency issues. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk.

The British Embassy can be found at Via XX Settembre 80a, I-00187 Roma RM. Tel: + (39) 06 4220 0001. Email: consularrome@fco.gov.uk.

The Italian Embassy in the U.K can be found at 14 Three Kings Yard, Davies Street, London W1K 4EH. Telephone: (020) 7312 2200. Email: ambasciata.londra@esteri.it.

Climate Summary

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).

Climate Chart

Health

We advise taking plenty of sunscreen!

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org

Electricity

Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.

Film and Camera Equipment

Mobile phones, tablets and digital cameras can be charged in your accommodation. There is free WiFi available at the Riding Centre.

Packing List

Riding trousers or jodhpurs
Sunglasses
Riding boots, paddock boots or riding trainers (with heel) that are comfortable to walk in.
Sun block
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)
Personal toiletries
Insect repellent spray/cream
Riding gloves
Binoculars (recommended)
Half chaps (optional)
Camera and batteries
T-shirts and shorts
Lightweight long sleeved shirts
Heavy sweater or sweatshirt
Informal/casual wear for evenings
Lightweight rainwear

Riding hats are compulsory.

Programmes

This is a 6 day/5 night trail available on set dates and on request between May and October. There is an option to add additional nights onto this trail. These will be spent staying in the on-site accommodation at the riding centre. Each day you can choose to have a morning lesson followed by lunch in the clubhouse and a half-day ride up on to the hills or a full-day ride with picnic lunch. Additional nights are full board and include meals and drinks with meals (including wine).

Departure Dates

2019: 29 Jun (FULL), 14 Sept. Other dates are available on request.
2020: 25 Jul

Pricing
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.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2019 - Monastery & Chariot Trail6d/5n4double pp1,185
2019 - Monastery & Chariot Trail6d/5n4single supplement155
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 - Monastery & Chariot Trail6d/5n4double pp1,325
2019 - Monastery & Chariot Trail6d/5n4single supplement169
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 - Monastery & Chariot Trail6d/5n4double pp1,509
2019 - Monastery & Chariot Trail6d/5n4single supplement195
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 - Monastery & Chariot Trail6d/5n4double pp14,555
2019 - Monastery & Chariot Trail6d/5n4single supplement1,859
Additional Night Pricing
  No of days/nights Product item description £
2019 - additional nightper nightdouble pp169
  No of days/nights Product item description
2019 - additional nightper nightdouble pp189
  No of days/nights Product item description $
2019 - additional nightper nightdouble pp215
  No of days/nights Product item description SEK
2019 - additional nightper nightdouble pp2,065
Recommended Reading

Our first recommendation is 'Chickens Eat Pasta', written by Clare Pedrick who is the English speaking guide and host on this ride. An enjoyable true story of how Clare ended up living in Italy, highly recommended!

You should also read the outrageous story of the Roman chariot that the ride is based around;

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1548072/Italian-villagers-fight-New-Yorks-Met-for-2600-year-old-chariot.html

Other books include: Lisa St Aubyn de Teram ‘A House In Italy’, E.M Forster ‘A Room With A View’, HV Morton ‘A Traveller in Italy’ and anything by Italo Calvino.


Other Activities

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 €60 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.

Wildlife

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.

Other Country Information

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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Rome airports (FCO, CIA), Spoleto train station
Transfer:
2019: Included from Spoleto train station (15 min). This is an easy 2 hour train trip from Rome.
Flight Guide:
London - Rome return from £50 with RyanAir
London - Perugia from £50 with RyanAir
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