Riding in Tuscany

Situated in a peaceful, picturesque valley in the heart of Chianti and within easy reach of Florence, this holiday combines riding in the countryside with empathetic instruction and offers riding for all levels of rider from beginner onwards at their own level.

Riding through the classical Tuscan scenery on well schooled calm horses is a highlight of this holiday. There are a variety of horses to choose from. Onsite instruction can also help riders of any level to improve their dressage skills as well as general good horsemanship. All the instructors are very well qualified and work with calm, patience and real passion.

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.

Accommodation is 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. The swimming pool has glorious panoramic view over the Tuscan hills.

Guests really appreciate the quality of the riding on this riding holiday and often comment on the improved confidence riding out and good results they have with their own horses when back at home after a week in Tuscany.

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 LH of Menges on 05/06/2018

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday
Great experience
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     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments

Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
Although we have showers in the night and the trail was wet, the horses were cold breed and managed the trail with no problems. Horses were friendly and used to the trail riding. Easy ones. They are mentioning more than 30 well trained horses (Lusitanos, Anglo-arabs, Berber, Arabs, English Thoroughbred and Italian horses) on unicorn Website, they have them for school and dressage. Beautiful ones. You would enjoy dressage lessons here. Trail riding though we experienced is only with Cold Bloods.
Meals
Meal Quantity     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
We knew the locations is mostly for Riding lessons but as the Unicorn advisors explained the trail riding is here also well, we have chosen this venue in Tuscany in comparison to others because of the location (nearby all cities we wanted to visit - Sienna, Florence, San Gimiano, Pisa) and the swimming pool. Unfortunate the weather was not so good to swim, but was nice to have that option.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
We have mentioned in questionnaire that we want to canter/ gallop, go on a nice fast, advanced trail riding because we are experienced. Here is was not the case and horses were not supposed to trot or canter on a trail ride.
What could we do to improve this ride?
If the conditions allow have warm blooded horses that are well trained to trot and canter as well.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
2
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
As we have ridden a lot on trails, we are used to riding difficult off road terrain with hills, water, forest, grass land, riding between winery’s, on the road, by the road etc. So this was a pleasant ride with exceptional beautiful landscapes, with so many different paths in nature that is stunning here. We have not had enough of the scenery that is idyllic and we enjoyed it so much, especially on such easy-going horse. We had a lovely riding leader and were off road just ourselves having so much fun crossing the stunning Tuscany.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
The professionalism and knowledge and responsiveness is amazingly good. The locations they have in portfolio are diverse and we will for sure go for another one.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:
Would recomend the venue and acency!
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! We will update our info re. the pace of the rides :)

Transfer
2018: 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.

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 at a slow pace. 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 liked 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 at a slow pace. 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 a 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.

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

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

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

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/

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

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 available from late February to mid November, and over New Year.

Departure Dates

2019: Saturdays from 16 March to 10 November; 26 December to 6 January (high season is 24 March to 3 November and Christmas weeks)

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,005
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,069
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C899
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,095
2018 Low Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)645
2018 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement179
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 5-8, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)465
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 9-13, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)649
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 5-13 10 lessons325
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,099
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,159
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C995
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,195
2018 High Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)739
2018 High Season8d/7n6single supplement179
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 5-8, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)465
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 9-13, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)649
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 5-13 10 lessons325
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,089
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,159
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C975
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,189
2018 Low Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)699
2018 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement199
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 5-8, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)505
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 9-13, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)705
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 5-13 10 lessons349
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,195
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,259
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C1,079
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,295
2018 High Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)805
2018 High Season8d/7n6single supplement199
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 5-8, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)505
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 9-13, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)705
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 5-13 10 lessons349
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,269
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,355
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C1,135
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,389
2018 Low Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)815
2018 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement229
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 5-8, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)589
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 9-13, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)819
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 5-13 10 lessons409
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A1,395
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B1,469
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C1,259
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D1,509
2018 High Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)939
2018 High Season8d/7n6single supplement229
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 5-8, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)589
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 9-13, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)819
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 5-13 10 lessons409
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A11,499
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B12,239
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C10,289
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D12,555
2018 Low Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)7,385
2018 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement2,069
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 5-8, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)5,309
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 9-13, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)7,435
2018 Low Season8d/7n6child 5-13 10 lessons3,695
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme A12,609
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme B13,295
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme C11,395
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp - Programme D13,665
2018 High Season8d/7n6non rider (half board)8,495
2018 High Season8d/7n6single supplement2,069
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 5-8, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)5,309
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 9-13, non-riding, sharing with 2 adults (half board)7,435
2018 High Season8d/7n6child 5-13 10 lessons3,695
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:
2018: from €80 each way per car. See itinerary for more details.
Flight Guide:
London - Florence return from £100 or London - Pisa return from £65. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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