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Adventures in Italy: Maremma Tuscany on horseback

Posted Jan. 19, 2014, at 7:23 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 24, 2014, at 12:47 p.m.

Tuscan hills filled with wild boar, figs and cyclamen are an ideal place to enjoy a relaxing horse riding holiday in Italy. The season starts again in april and all experienced horseback riders are welcome to join this adventure of horse riding in Tuscany.

“This is where the Italians come to relax” said Roberto, outside his hotel, the Rifugio Prategiano. It is easy to see why. As I looked out from the hotel, the hills were being gently unwrapped from their misty coating by the rising sun. At the bottom of the valley, Maremma horses grazed beside their stone riding stables. All around there was quiet. Total quiet.

The Maremma is part of Tuscany – the wild bit that was once so full of flies and bandits that nearly nobody wanted to live there. Now it is simply unspoilt. This picturesque hotel, set in the hills with a delightful swimming pool, was taken over by Roberto’s family in 1971 and after rebuilding, the family has concentrated on horse trekking since the outset. They provide a variety of rides through the surrounding countryside on locally bred Maremma horses.

Maremmas are row-boned, tough horses, ideal for trekking and trail riding, due to their strength and honesty, they are quite capable of covering 25 to 30 miles a day over testing hills and across wide galloping plains. The horses I rode were good servants who allowed you to take in the scenery of Tuscany. They were clearly suitable also for learner riders – my non-riding wife had her first ever riding lesson and grew so far in confidence that, after an hours’s tuition, she was able to go on a short trail ride with a group of Italians from Rome. We visited the area late in the season, the ideal time is May , June and September. But the delight of cantering across fields of mint, discovering the overnight working of wild boards, gazing at the canopies of wild cyclamens and the strange, wild fungi growing in the woods, made it hard to imagine that the area could even be more beautiful – only a little warmer.

Added to this was the chance to see architectural splendours such as the monastery at San Galgano founded by one particularly bad bandit who “saw the light”, gave up his wicked ways, rammed his sword permanently into a rock and founded the monastery. In a small chapel, above the monastery, his sword and the remains of his hands are on show.

The hotel runs also two week-long trail rides, one to the sea at Folloncia with one of the most beautiful beaches of all Tuscany and another which follows a circular route through the Maremma countryside. Each night the riders return to the hotel, while the horses are stables where the day finishes. Alternatively, there are more than a dozen day trips taking riders to places of note. One of the great features of the trip were the daily picnics served in superb scenery. The hearty Tuscan food, washed down with local Chianti and Monteregio wine, was delicious and the informal atmosphere was continued in the evening back at the hotel, where we ate at a shared table with other guests and riders. The Hotel Prategiano has the advantage of being suitable for families and for couples where one partner may not be as enthusiastic a rider as the other. The team carefully cater for both groups of people with the non-riders encouraged to explore the Tuscan countryside and hill top villages on foot or bike. You will certainly see some of the most beautiful sceneries of Tuscany imaginable with the inestimable bonus of having just horses and new found friends for company. For more information:

Hotel Rifugio Prategiano

Loc. Prategiano, 45

58026 Montieri (GR)

Tel. +39 0566 – 997700

e-mail : info@hotelprategiano.it

Sito Web : Hotel Prategiano in Tuscany

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