Monday, December 29, 2008

Horseback Riding in Tuscany, Italy

Tuscan Countryside This past September I went on a horseback riding vacation to Tuscany, Italy, with my daughter and 2 other couples who have been friends for years. It was a fantastic trip and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in viewing Toscana from the back of a horse.

Horseback Riding in TuscanyWe booked the Maremma Ride out of a small, quaint hotel in Montieri called the Hotel Rifugio Prategiano, which is in the midst of beautiful Tuscany. The Maremma Ride is a 5-day horseback trip through the Tuscan countryside which is offered in the spring and again in the fall. Our first day of riding was a 3-hour ride to get acquainted with the horses that we then rode for the rest of the trip.

Horseback Riding through Tuscan TreesThe next day we headed out from the hotel and rode all day, leaving our horses that night - and each successive night - at a different place. In the evening we were picked up by the hotel’s van and brought back for dinner and the night at the hotel, leaving again in the morning to be transported back to where the horses had spent their night.

Horseback Riding in Tuscany, ItalyWe rode through woods, fields, streams, alongside vineyards and olive trees, and through towns. Lunch was a picnic at some picturesque spot; a hot – and delicious – meal catered in by the hotel staff was enjoyed by everyone while the horses snoozed in the shade.

Maremman Horses Resting at LunchOur guides were knowledgeable about the area and fun to be around. We had quite the laughs! The owners of the hotel, Renate and Roberto, were extremely helpful, personable and always concerned about the welfare and comfort of their guests as well as their horses.

The hotel's horses were big, Horseback Riding through Tuscan Villagestrong warmblood-types called "Maremman horses." When asked what type of breeding that was, Roberto thoughtfully answered, "local!" They were quiet and steady but could definitely pick it up for a nice hand-gallop down a dirt road! We traveled over some fairly rough terrain and the horses never put a foot wrong.

Maremman Horse Overlooking Tuscan ViewTo round out our trail riding trip, we spent a couple of days before the ride in Pisa and a few days afterwards touring Rome. It truly was the trip of a lifetime!

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