Enjoy a horse riding holiday at an excellent riding centre hosted by a large and very hospitable Italian family spanning 3 generations where you will end the week feeling like life-long friends.
This corner of southern Umbria is spectacularly beautiful and unspoilt, with varied landscapes ranging from craggy rocks and peaks to soft rolling hills and cool and quiet woodland, home to porcupines and wild boar. The countryside is dotted with medieval hill villages where life goes on much as it has done for centuries.
At the riding centre there are excellent facilities to enable this special Show Jumping tuition and trail riding combination to take place. Lessons are taught by either Count Adolfo Poli or the Centre's main instructor Andrea Bevilacqua, both trained FISE instructor 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.

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 KA of wauwatosa on 26/10/2018

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
This is hard to rate, because you had one tour leader for the hacks, and another jumping instructor. The jumping instructor, Andrea Bevilacqua, was incredible! He made the trip - great instructor, wonderful person. Asked what you wanted to work on, and he designed exercises to help you improve.
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments



Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
Please give more details to explain your response:
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
The English speaking guide was not present the week we were on the trip, which we learned of on arrival. The rest of the staff had OK engligh speaking skills, but we often used our iphone to translate. Would have been good to know this ahead of time.
What could we do to improve this ride?
its a great ride.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
If you wanted to jump low jumps you could, but if you were skilled enough to go higher you could also.
The hacks were mostly walking because of the rocky ground.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
Please give more details to explain your response:
I have recommended you. You offer a wide variety of trip destinations.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :) Apologies - I did not know that Clare would not be present. Comments from Clare: I was indeed called away to work in Holland that week, which hardly ever happens). But before going I set everything in place to ensure they were in excellent hands and made a point of introducing myself soon after their arrival and explaining everything. For their programme they had two half day and one full day rides. I organised a Dutch lady who speaks very good English to go on the first half day ride together with Agostino the guide. Then Andrea (who was of course the instructor and who they really liked very much) took them out for the other treks, together with Lorenzo. So two guides for two clients!

Day 1 
Upon arrival at Spoleto train station you will be transferred to the riding centre. After settling into your room and depending on the time, you will be able to have a look around the stables, relax in the clubhouse or sit down to enjoy your first delicious meal.

Day 2
Your horse riding holiday will start off in a fairly leisurely way on the first day, to give you the chance to get to know your horse. You will pass through shady paths among the chestnut woods and you’ll have time to admire the magnificent gnarled old trees which have supplied chestnuts to generations of people living in this area, and to spot the wild cyclamen and other flowers that grow in the woods, before climbing steeply up into the foothills of Mount Acetella, today’s destination. There are plenty of chances to trot or canter along these paths, but don’t forget to stop and take stock of the magnificent views here. You can see high mountain peaks in the distance, with the stables and Montebibico, a mediaeval village where time seems to have stood still, nestling in the foreground – a great place for a photograph.

Afterwards, you will head up to the top of Mount Acetella itself, just a short climb, where you will be rewarded with more stunning views here on top of the world. You will head back to the stables via another series of trails for lunch. In the afternoon you will make your way to the stables to become acquainted with your horse and instructor for the week and enjoy your 1st 1 hour lesson.

Day 3
Today it is time to recap on the previous days lessons with two more in the morning and afternoon. There will be free time in between the lessons for you to relax.

Day 4
This half-day ride will take you through the grounds of a magnificent 600-hectare private estate called La Tenuta dello Schioppo, but known locally as Il Parco delle Farfalle, the Butterfly Park. There are wide avenues perfect for cantering for those who want to, and trotting for those who don't, and splendid views of mountains, valleys and hill villages in all directions. In a woodland glade a huntsman's table has been fashioned out of local chestnut wood, and this will be the stopping place for an aperitif. In May and June, these woods are carpeted with tiny wild strawberries. You will ride back for lunch at the clubhouse.

Day 5
Pianella, the destination for this day-long trek of 5-6 hours (35kms), is a gloriously peaceful spot in the heart of the Umbrian countryside. To get there, you will ride through woods and trails and down into a hidden valley where you can pause to admire the exquisite little village of Castagnacupa, whose old stone houses have all been recently restored.

From here you will ride past a beautiful Romanesque church and into more woodland before reaching the shady meadow where you will have lunch, tying the horses to a post and rails and sitting on wooden tables and benches thoughfully provided for picnickers. After lunch you will head on through the old village of Pompagnano, close to Spoleto, and back over the hills via Catinelli, a village poised spectacularly on a rock outcrop and home to just two people, an old man and a woman who can often be seen tending to their animals.

Day 6
After your rest day from the school yesterday, today is back to work with two one hour lessons in the morning and afternoon.

Day 7
Today will be your final day of riding and the chance to re-cap on your week's Show Jumping or Dressage tuition, with a 1 hour lesson in the morning and afternoon to round off your week nicely.

Day 8
After breakfast you will be transferred back to Spoleto train station.

Note: As with many riding holidays, this itinerary is subject to change depending on weather conditions.

The Combo programme runs alongside the Umbrian Adventure programme so in addition to riders having tuition, there will be others who are taking daily rides from the base. The programme is very flexible and can be tailormade to suit the requirements of individual participants.

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 is 10.

The 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.

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.

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 €60 (in 2019, €75 in 2020) payable locally. The stables will transport you for 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.

Golf is available at two excellent locations in Perugia for riders and non-riders alike. Please enquire for more details.

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 €16 plus €60 per car to get there if guests don't have their own car.

An outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, with spectacular views over the hills and valleys is a recent and very welcome addition.

Ryanair flies to Rome frequently as does easyJet. A transfer is available from there (additional cost) or Spoleto is an easy 2 hour train journey from there. Alternatively car rental is a good option. 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.

Please enquire if you have younger children who would like to ride.The Bevilaqua family also run the following programmes:

Umbrian Adventure - 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.

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 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 40 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. The stable has a large outdoor Menage and a generous selection of show jumps, making it the perfect place to further your skills or brush up on your technique.

For the Show Jumping/Dressage tuition, clients will ride Italian Saddle horses and Dutch Warmbloods - some of which are currently at competition level and are competing regularly with their riders. 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 trekking horses have numnahs with pockets for water, cameras, phones 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

Riders of all levels are catered for with an appropriate mix of tuition and riding out thus there is no previous experience necessary.

Due to the hilly terrain covered, a large amount of the riding out is at the walk. 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, although experienced younger riders may be accepted.

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 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

All accommodation is in self-contained apartments or comfortable en-suite bedrooms 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 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 outdoor patio and seating area has similarly vast views over the surrounding countryside. A new swimming pool and hot tub area was built in 2019 and has spectacular views over the hills and valleys.

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

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. Homemade dessert followed by coffee and liqueurs (grappa, limoncello etc) and the inevitable espresso.

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, temperatures tend to rise significantly, but 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


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


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.

Packing List

Riding pants or jodhpurs
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 however a selection is available on site)
Personal toiletries
Insect repellent spray/cream
Riding gloves
Binoculars (recommended)
Half chaps (optional)
Camera and film
T-shirts and shorts
Lightweight long sleeved shirts
Heavy sweater or sweatshirt*
Informal/casual wear for evenings
Lightweight rainwear
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 for all riders.


This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates. Other dates are available for groups of 2 or more.

Departure Dates

2021: 3, 24 Apr; 29 May; 26 Jun; 10*, 24* Jul; 7*, 21* Aug; 11 Sept; 2, 16, 30 Oct (*denotes high season). Other dates on request for groups of 2 or more.

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   
Riding days Product item description £
2020 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,209
2020 Low Season8d/7n6non-rider695
2020 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement155
2020 Low Season8d/7n6Child under 12 not riding955
2021 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,209
2021 Low Season8d/7n6non-rider695
2021 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement155
2021 Low Season8d/7n6Child under 12 not riding955
2021 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,315
2021 High Season8d/7n6single supplement155
2021 High Season8d/7n6non-rider695
2021 High Season8d/7n6child under 12 not riding1,015
No of   
Riding days Product item description
2020 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,315
2020 Low Season8d/7n6non-rider749
2020 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement169
2020 Low Season8d/7n6Child under 12 not riding1,035
2021 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,315
2021 Low Season8d/7n6non-rider749
2021 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement169
2021 Low Season8d/7n6Child under 12 not riding1,035
2021 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,425
2021 High Season8d/7n6single supplement169
2021 High Season8d/7n6non-rider749
2021 High Season8d/7n6child under 12 not riding1,099
No of   
Riding days Product item description $
2020 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,749
2020 Low Season8d/7n6non-rider999
2020 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement225
2020 Low Season8d/7n6Child under 12 not riding1,375
2021 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,749
2021 Low Season8d/7n6non-rider999
2021 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement225
2021 Low Season8d/7n6Child under 12 not riding1,375
2021 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,899
2021 High Season8d/7n6single supplement225
2021 High Season8d/7n6non-rider999
2021 High Season8d/7n6child under 12 not riding1,465
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
2020 Low Season8d/7n6double pp14,069
2020 Low Season8d/7n6non-rider8,039
2020 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement1,809
2020 Low Season8d/7n6Child under 12 not riding11,055
2021 Low Season8d/7n6double pp14,069
2021 Low Season8d/7n6non-rider8,039
2021 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement1,809
2021 Low Season8d/7n6Child under 12 not riding11,055
2021 High Season8d/7n6double pp15,275
2021 High Season8d/7n6single supplement1,809
2021 High Season8d/7n6non-rider8,039
2021 High Season8d/7n6child under 12 not riding11,789
Recommended Reading

Our first recommendation must be that of '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!

Other books we recommend are:

A Room with a View - E.M Forster

A Traveller in Italy - HV Morton

and anything by Italo Calvino.

Other Activities

For those wanting to explore further, 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.

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 €75 for 2-3 hours) and cycling is available nearby for a reasonable cost. Visits to Spoleto and Assisi can be arranged if own transport is not available.


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, Spoleto or Perugia train stations
2021: included from Spoleto train station. This is an easy 2 hour train trip from Rome. Transfer time from Spoleto is approximately 15 minutes.
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. Car rental is also an option
Flight Guide:
London - Rome return from £90 with Ryanair
London - Perugia from £90 with Ryanair
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