Situated in a peaceful, picturesque valley in the heart of Tuscany and within easy reach of Florence, this holiday will help riders of any level to improve their dressage skills as well as general good horsemanship. With a variety of horses to choose from, guests can learn the subtleties of shoulder in, half pass and flying changes, all the while focusing on lightness, balance and a good relationship with the horse.
With 30 years’ experience teaching visitors from all over the world guests can be confident in the tuition on offer. All the instructors are very well qualified and work with calm, patience and real passion. Rides can also be taken out in the surrounding Tuscan countryside.

This is a great place for family holidays, with many activities on offer away from the horses. Sight-seeing, photography courses, wine tasting and Italian lessons are just some of the options available. In combination with a beautiful setting, very comfortable accommodation and riding for all levels, this variety keeps everyone entertained and families often return time after time. There are periodic yoga weeks to enjoy for a full relaxation break.

Guests really appreciate the quality of the tuition on this riding holiday and often comment on the good results they have with their own horses when back at home after a week of lessons. Lessons are available for beginners onwards and are either private or semi-private. When working in a class the group is limited to a maximum of three riders.

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 JD of High Wycombe on 15/10/2015

Ride Summary
I think this would be ideal for all levels of rider and they are happy to teach children and there are things for non-horsey people to do
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Concern with Environment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments our stay was centre based not a tour so not all the fields were applicable
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced? 0
Please explain why you scored it as you did n/a it was dressage lessons and they were tailored to each rider
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response I think this would be ideal for all levels of rider and they are happy to teach children and there are things for non-horsey people to do
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?     (   ) NO     (   ) YES
Any other comments
Unicorn comments Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Riding
Tuition and riding out is available, or a combination of both. The quality of the tuition is very high: instructors and guides are BHS, GEA, FISR UISP. Lessons are divided into groups, with a maximum of 4/5 riders in each and they are 50 minutes long. The rides out are calm and in most cases small country paths are followed through the Tuscan countryside. Tuition can be offered from absolute beginners onwards and riding out is available for more confident riders. Riding can also be tailor-made according to your wishes, please enquire for more details.

Programme A
Lessons and riding out for beginners and novice riders - 10 lessons or 9 lessons and 1 out-ride.

Programme B
Dressage and riding out for intermediate and advanced riders - 6 Dressage lessons and 3 out-rides.

Programme C
5 half day out-rides for novice and intermediate riders.

Programme D
Dressage for advanced riders - 9 Dressage lessons and 1 out-ride

For children aged between 5 and 9 years old there is a set programme of 10 lessons including grooming tuition. Please note that riding out cannot be guaranteed for children under 14. Once their riding has been assessed the riding out may be confirmed.  

Horses
There are about 30 well trained horses available. They are Lusitanos, Anglo-arabs, Berber, Arabs, English Thoroughbred and Italian horses. They are ridden in English tack and are very well schooled and responsive.

Accommodation
Guests are hosted in the heart of Chianti in an 18th century country villa featuring terra-cotta floors, wooden beamed roofs and arched ceilings. The house has 8 guest rooms, all with bathrooms, each furnished simply and comfortably in the 19th century tuscan style. The Tower Room has six windows giving a wonderful panoramic view over the scenic landscape. Guests can use the swimming pool with glorious panoramic view over the Tuscan hills. There is also a small apartment (approx. 45 sq. m) inside the main house on the ground floor, which has 1 bedroom with ensuite bathroom, 1 sitting room with kitchenette and a double sofa bed. (2 to 4 guests).

Food
Four courses are served and a good Chianti wine is always at your disposal. The cuisine is traditional Tuscan and the products are genuine and fresh: olive oil directly produced from the farm is used. Vegetarians can be catered for upon request. There are specialties of more than 30 different types of Tuscan crostini-Pizze, focacce and pasta of any kind: particularly good is the lasagne al forno (also in vegetarian version) and the Tortelloni of Maremma. Pork, beef, wild boar, chicken cooked in many different ways and always accompanied by two different vegetable choices. Tirami su, panna cotta, torta della nonna, home made cantucci are some of our dessert specialities.

Activities
It is possible to organise riding out with wine tasting or full ride out with picnic. It is also possible to book additional lessons or rides out. This is a very good base for touring the area without changing accomodation: Florence and Siena, Colle Val d’Elsa, San Gimignano, Certaldo, Greve in Chianti, Pisa, Pienza,Volterra, Lucca are reachable by car. Generally the riding programmes leave riders plenty of time for touring the area and there are many nice places you can reach in less than half an hour.

The sea and sandy beach is about 75 minutes by car.

Feel free to use your time between rides to feel fully replenished. Beyond poolside relaxation you can visit a local spa, there are two which offer a great service at reasonable rates. The closest is just 10 minutes away, hard to resist!


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

About 30 well trained horses (Lusitanos, Anglo-arabs, Berber, Arabs, English Thoroughbred and Italian horses) are available. They will be assigned according to the skills and wishes of the riders. The lessons are divided into three groups and can be taught in fluent English. The quality of tuition is very high: instructors and guides are BHS, GEA, FISE UISP. Riding lessons are taken in one of the two training arenas and are in English for beginners too. The groups are of max. 4/5 riders. Beginners can learn riding from the very first steps. Beginners do not have to bring a full riding equipment - you can borrow chaps, whips and riding hats (not all sizes) on site. Post-beginners can extend their knowledge and skill or partake in the riding out. Experienced riders can take dressage lessons or combine this with riding out. We have all-inclusive offers with halfboard and 2 riding hours per day. If like you can book more riding on site. The rides out are calm and always accompanied by a qualified guide. In most cases we follow small country paths or go across the tuscan countryside. Horses' Training Guests always leave complimenting the lightness and sensitivity of the horses - and they are horses which have a new rider every day! Horses are reschooled if they are problematic or have not been well ridden. The aim is to bring them back to a renewed physical and mental harmony using appropriate gymnastic exercises and a sympathetic approach. With these methods optimun results have been obtained in dressage, show jumping, cross country and endurance. Courses are organised both for riders just starting out in dressage as well as for experienced dressage enthusiasts. The weekly courses are run throughout the year and it is possible to partake with or without your own horse. With the emphasis on correct basic schoolwork, riders are also encouraged to work on exercises in the lateral movements, transistions, canter and counter-canter as well as work from the ground. For very advanced levels, sometimes riders also have the possibility to work on more advanced movements.

Rider requirements

None, beginners can learn riding from the very first steps.
Post-beginners can extend their knowledge and skill or partake in the riding out.
Experienced riders can take dressage lessons or combine this with riding out.
The minimum age for riding is 2. There is a minimum age of 14 for riding out, although younger riders who are experienced may be able to join with adults.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 13 st/187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

This ride offers warm hospitality, with tasty traditional Tuscan cuisine. The accommodation comprises 8 double, triple and quadruple rooms and 2 self catering apartments. ROOMS Guests are hosted in the heart of Chianti in an 18th century country villa featuring terra-cotta floors, wooden beamed roofs and arched ceilings. The house has 8 guest rooms, all with bathrooms,each furnished simply and comfortably in the 19th century tuscan style. The Tower Room has six windows giving a wonderful panoramic view over the scenic landscape. Guests can use our swimming pool with glorious panoramic view over the Tuscan hills. There is also a small apartment (approx. 45 sq. m) inside the main house on the ground floor having 1 bedroom with ensuite bathroom, 1 sitting room with kitchenette and a double sofa bed. (2 to 4 guests). FOOD Dinners consist of four courses and a good Chianti wine is always at your disposal. The cuisine is traditional Tuscan and the products are genuine and fresh: the olive oil used is directly produced on the farm. SPECIALITIES More than 30 different types of Tuscan crostini-Pizze, focacce and pasta of any kind: particularly good is the lasagne al forno (also in vegetarian version) and the Tortelloni of Maremma. Pork, beef, wild boar, chicken cooked in many different ways and always accompanied by two different vegetable choices. Tirami su, panna cotta, torta della nonna, home made cantucci are some of the dessert specialities.

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

Climate Summary

The coastal regions, have a typical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot and generally dry summers.

Climate Chart

Health (ride specific)

If you wish to visit either of the local spas for a treatment you may want to look at the websites to choose in advance:

Castel del Nero, just 10 minutes away, is set in a castle with a fantastic atmosphere are great facilities with an extensive range of treatments http://www.castellodelnero.com/eng/tuscany_spa_hotel.htm

Villa San Paolo is a little farther away, 20-25 minutes, but offer amazing value at around €50 per day http://www.toscanaspa.com/en/

Film and Camera Equipment

Electricity is available to charge equipment.

Packing List

Beginners do not have to bring full riding equipment - chaps, whips and riding hats (not all sizes) can be provided. Otherwise just bring your normal riding gear and some informal clothing for evening wear. Sunscreen is essential in the summer!

Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night programme, please check the website for current dates. July and August can get booked up early.

Departure Dates

2017: Saturdays from 18 February to 11 November; 26 December to 7 January (high season is 1 April to 4 November and Christmas weeks)

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A959
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,025
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C859
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,049
2017 Low Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)619
2017 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement175
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme A849
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme B909
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme C745
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme D939
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,055
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,109
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C955
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,139
2017 High Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)709
2017 High Season8d/7n6single supplement175
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,089
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,159
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C975
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,189
2017 Low Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)699
2017 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement199
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme A939
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,009
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme C825
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,039
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,195
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,259
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C1,079
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,295
2017 High Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)805
2017 High Season8d/7n6single supplement199
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,329
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,415
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C1,189
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,455
2017 Low Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)855
2017 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement239
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,149
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,235
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme C1,009
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,269
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,459
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,539
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C1,319
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,579
2017 High Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)985
2017 High Season8d/7n6single supplement239
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A10,595
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B11,275
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C9,475
2017 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D11,565
2017 Low Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)6,805
2017 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement1,905
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme A9,135
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme B9,815
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme C8,019
2017 Feburary Offer8d/7n6double pp - Programme D10,109
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A11,615
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B12,245
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C10,495
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D12,585
2017 High Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)7,825
2017 High Season8d/7n6single supplement1,905
Other Activities

This is a very good base for touring the area without changing accommodation: Florence and Siena, Colle Val d’Elsa, San Gimignano, Certaldo, Greve in Chianti, Pisa, Pienza,Volterra,Lucca are reachable by car.

Generally the riding programmes leave riders plenty of time for touring the area and there are many nice places you can reach in less than half an hour.

There are many things you can do while your partner/friend is riding:
- you can just relax at the swimming pool (open from April to October)
- tennis facilities are within 10 km
- golf facilities in Florence, Castelfalfi or Siena.Ask for information.
- explore the Tuscan countryside by bicycle.
- join the riders for the pic-nic or wine tasting
- join an art seminar, a ceramic course or a cooking class
- learn italian (our teacher comes to the farm on request)
- Enjoy a spa treatment locally
- Participate in yoga if you stay during a yoga week
- The sea and sandy beach is about 75 minutes by car.

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):
Florence Airport, Florence Station or Pisa Airport (PSA)
Transfer:
2017: Florence Station - from €80 each way per car, Florence Airport - from €85 each way per car, Pisa Airport - from €135 each way per car. Maximum 4 people per car. Supplements may be applicable for night time transfers. Payable on site
Transfer times are approximately 50 minutes from Florence station, 1 hour from Florence airport and 1 hour 45 from Pisa Airport.
Flight Guide:
London - Florence return from £100 or London - Pisa return from £65. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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