Horse riding in tuscany

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A Horse Ride on the Wild Side


Take part in the joys of Italian cowboy life in Maremma, the southwest part of Tuscany.  Horseback riding in Tuscany has a long tradition, from mounted military mercenaries in the 15th century, to the “butteri,” who rode Maremmano horses to watch over their livestock.  Go back in time with a half day ride through the lush green hills dotted with olive groves and cork oak trees in summer, or gallop across the sandy beach along the wild Tyrrhenian coastline in winter.  Revel in the glorious countryside of southern Tuscany from the extraordinary viewpoint of your saddle atop your trusty Italian steed. Satisfy your hunger after all that fresh air with a guided olive oil tasting on a private estate to complete your truly Italian horse riding experience.

The butteri’s glory

Stroke your horse’s strong flanks and you begin to understand why this breed is so important to Tuscan rural life.  Maremmano horses are gentle giants, steadfast and loyal, with a particular ability to adapt to bad weather and difficult terrain.  You will learn about the origin of the breed, going back to African, Spanish and Arabian roots, while you rest your hand against your horse’s warm, muscular frame.  As you mount a Maremmano for the first time, and feel the solid creature beneath you, it is easy to see why these horses were the mounts favored by the butteri, the traditional rough and tough shepherds and cattlemen of Tuscany.  You’ll hear how the butteri began as military mercenaries in the middle ages, and grew so fond of their loyal Maremmanos, they kept them when they returned to farming...

Stroke your horse’s strong flanks and you begin to understand why this breed is so important to Tuscan rural life.  Maremmano horses are gentle giants, steadfast and loyal, with a particular ability to adapt to bad weather and difficult terrain.  You will learn about the origin of the breed, going back to African, Spanish and Arabian roots, while you rest your hand against your horse’s warm, muscular frame.  As you mount a Maremmano for the first time, and feel the solid creature beneath you, it is easy to see why these horses were the mounts favored by the butteri, the traditional rough and tough shepherds and cattlemen of Tuscany.  You’ll hear how the butteri began as military mercenaries in the middle ages, and grew so fond of their loyal Maremmanos, they kept them when they returned to farming.

Listen to historic tales of the butteri’s glory on horseback and laugh at their scorn for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show when it visited Rome in 1980.  The butteri challenged the cowboys from the show to a contest of skill and thoroughly bested them with their centuries of horse riding experience and authentic livestock handling skills. Thrill to the story of the Maremmano’s amazing victory in World War II, when an Italian mounted regiment armed with sabres and hand grenades outflanked 2,000 Russian soldiers and drove them back across the harsh steppe lands to take the city of Isbushensky in 1942. Discover the fact that Maremmanos continue to play an active working role in Italy today, as the chosen horse of the Italian mounted police and they are celebrated every year on January 17, the Festival of Sant’Antonio Abate, when many towns throughout the Maremma region hold parades and blessings for the horses.  And don’t forget the butteri traditions, also still commemorated annually, on the first Sunday of August in a rowdy celebration of horse back riding in Tuscany and contests of livestock handling skills. 

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Maremma’s swathe of wild

Embrace the beguiling landscape of Maremma while enjoying your sporty horseback riding near Florence.  This southwest corner of Tuscany is beloved for its crystal blue sea, long sandy beaches and secluded coves, and you will canter over rolling hillsides peppered with umbrella pines, olive groves and vineyards.  The wildly varied elements of Maremma encompass marshes and flatlands, volcanic black rock and thermal baths, oak woods and tufo hills, providing a multitude of landscapes to explore...

Embrace the beguiling landscape of Maremma while enjoying your sporty horseback riding near Florence.  This southwest corner of Tuscany is beloved for its crystal blue sea, long sandy beaches and secluded coves, and you will canter over rolling hillsides peppered with umbrella pines, olive groves and vineyards.  The wildly varied elements of Maremma encompass marshes and flatlands, volcanic black rock and thermal baths, oak woods and tufo hills, providing a multitude of landscapes to explore.

Ride through the mysterious forests in this little travelled region.  Tall cork oaks and stone pines form a natural cathedral for your meditation and all around you the sharp fragrance of pine reminds you that this area is the main source of Italy’s pine nuts.  Maremma’s swathe of wild hinterland was once bandit country and pirates menaced the rugged coastlines. Visit the interesting grave of legendary outlaw Domenico Tiburzi, often referred to as the “Italian Robin Hood,” and discover why he is buried half inside and half outside the walls of Capalbio’s graveyard.  You can follow in master Renaissance artist Caravaggio’s final footsteps as he walked north from Lazio and succumbed to malaria (“mal aria” literally translates to bad air) in the Maremma marshes. Glorious coastline, captivating little towns, a wealth of history and nature reserves all provide you with endless options for your time in southwest Tuscany, a region of roads less travelled.

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Authentic old fashioned Italian cowboy

Smell the spicy scent of wild rosemary in the sunshine, deliciously blending with the tangy sea air as you sway in your saddle, following the old paths of the butteri.  Daydream of life in a vineyard as your expert guide leads your ride near the lands of the world famous Bolgheri wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Astride your sturdy, kind-hearted Maremmano you can choose to bimble gently along the rocky hillsides or ask your very willing horse to go all out for you, galloping at speed, the wind in your hair and the Tyrrhenian sea breeze blowing across your cheeks.  At the end of the ride, feeling invigorated, you will return to beautiful Tenuta Col di Sasso for a fascinating tasting of local olive oil...

Smell the spicy scent of wild rosemary in the sunshine, deliciously blending with the tangy sea air as you sway in your saddle, following the old paths of the butteri.  Daydream of life in a vineyard as your expert guide leads your ride near the lands of the world famous Bolgheri wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Astride your sturdy, kind-hearted Maremmano you can choose to bimble gently along the rocky hillsides or ask your very willing horse to go all out for you, galloping at speed, the wind in your hair and the Tyrrhenian sea breeze blowing across your cheeks.  At the end of the ride, feeling invigorated, you will return to beautiful Tenuta Col di Sasso for a fascinating tasting of local olive oil.

An experienced oil “sommelier” will guide you as you taste extra virgin olive oil from the estate’s own 1500 trees.  You will see the workings of the estate’s old olive mill and learn about the four different cultivars of olives that make up the Tuscan blend and give it its own inimitable bouquet.  Experiment with different oils and indulge in the hearty offerings of local cheeses, cured meats, bruschetta and wine. Your horse riding experience draws to a close as you depart with the gift of an estate bottled olive oil and happy memories of your day  as an authentic old fashioned Italian cowboy.

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