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Tuscan Dream - rural Italy on horseback


Destination: Magic Tuscany
By Minna Lukkari

Do you daydream of Italian wine, pasta and pizza, unspoiled nature, scents of fresh basil, colours of yellow, brown, orange...? Would you like to combine it with your beloved hobby; horses and riding? We answered yes to both elements which led us to an ideal riding holiday in Italy.

After a long and freezing Finnish winter we were finally in beautiful Tuscany ready to start our long-awaited, one week- riding holiday. As proper Finns we wanted to find out all possible details well in advance. Thanks to Magic Tuscany and Matt's patience with all our e-mail questions, we chose one of the recommended "Agriturismo"-farms called I Giardini. It is situated in Acone, a tiny village about 25kms west from Florence. I Giardini produces delicious olive oil,too. We rented one of their biggest villas by the pool which had recently been charmingly renovated. The stable of 21 horses was only five minutes walk away.

tuscan countryside the villa pool
After wonderful days in the saddle exploring the Tuscan countryside with its breathtaking views, we came back to relax by the pool.

All the horses were ongoing but still obedient and very nice to handle, so every rider got to choose a horse they liked. Horses were mostly Anglo-Arabs, but there were couple of Maremmanos, Argentinians and Aveligneses too. We got to choose from western or english saddles.

Our local riding guide was Giulio, a true professional with horses and always so happy and patient with people. Quite an achievement, at least with stiff Finns... We were definitely in good hands. We had decided to make half- and full-day rides, with two days off-saddle dedicated to Florence and nearby villages.

First trip took us up and down the hilly landscape full with flowers. We had a chance to test our horses and see if they suited with their riders. And they did. I was the only one who wanted to replace mine with a more challenging one as I prefer faster horses. First real daytrip took us down to waterfalls to enjoy our picnic-lunch in the shadows of forest. Wine, cheese, fresh bread and vegetables followed by a nap...Oh boy!

During the following days we rode up to have lunch in a small tavern at the top of MonteGiovi (992m). Welcome mountain breeze cooled us nicely while we admired the view spreading under us. We also rode down to one of the local vineyards for some wine tasting and mouth-watering lunch. We got to see magnificent castles, huge olive plantations and traditional old tuscan houses. We rode along narrow paths and saw the side of Tuscany that cannot be seen from the window of your car. We could ride hours without seeing a soul. The scenery was breathtaking! No wonder Florence with all its tourists felt a bit oppressive...

Matt and his Magic Tuscany team had many evening activities to offer. One evening we got to visit a home of one local family where we had a chance to bake our own pizzas in a traditional stone oven! Our holiday home I Giardini organised traditional farm dinners several times a week, which we loved.

Nowadays many riding farms have turned into tourist traps with extortionate prices. Our target has always been to stay away from that and we managed it in Tuscany. Price-quality ratio is very rider-friendly. We can definitely recommend this charming place to any rider who appreciates nature and peaceful countryside. Paths and roads can be quite demanding for your muscles, so you need to be “in trim”. There are several routes of different levels, from novice to experienced riders. Generally speaking; the holiday combination of italian cuisine, wine, breathtaking landscape and horses was an experience we won't ever forget. In Finnish language there is an expression meaning that the holiday "was then a REALLY successful holiday". It really was!

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