Short break riding vacation in Tuscany

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2018: 22 Sep, 6 Oct

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Short break riding vacation in Tuscany


The farm where you will be staying has an organic certificate. There are three hundred olive-trees which provide all the olive-oil used in the kitchen. Ducks and pigeons are reared for the table, hens lay eggs daily and a well-stocked garden provides fresh vegetables. Other food is bought in a a nearby farmers market. Chianti wine comes from local vineyards and only Fairtrade tea and coffee are used.

The farmhouse has been carefully restored using local materials: chestnut wood for the beams, terracotta for the floors. All the furniture has been bought locally. Oakwood for heating the house is brought from the Chianti hills: there is a large fireplace in the sitting-room and a woodstove in the kitchen which heats most of the house. All the water comes from a spring on the farm.

Jenny is an active member of CAI, the Italian rambling association, and helps to find and maintain paths all over the countryside. All riders and walkers are encouraged to recognise and respect the local crops and to refrain from leaving litter (the horses sometimes let us down in this respect, but what they leave is strictly organic). Jenny likes to teach the local children not only to ride but also to recognise the trees and flowers of the area, while Eraldo, the BHS instructor, tells them about the deer, the porcupine and the wild boar that roam the woods, as well as the birds: in spring it is common to hear hoopoes, bee-eaters and golden orioles, while the nightingales sing day AND night!

During this programme we either ride or walk, making as little use as possible of the car. For example, we walk to the tower of Galatrona (instead of driving there). The tower is kept open by local volunteers to whom however we do give a donation. The next afternoon we take the train to Arezzo. Jenny teaches her guests enough Italian so that they can buy the tickets, and also advises them how to avoid expensive choices of journey.


Everyone working at the farm is Italian, with the exception of Jenny, of course, who has however lived in the area for forty years and feels almost Italian. For 30 years Pietro, a peasant farmer, presided over the kitchen but since he died the cooking is now done by his son Sergio and Franca, a buxom local lady who also organizes cooking courses. Marco, Sergios son, does part-time work in the stables and the kitchen. Eraldo is our ebullient instructor and guide.

The Centre owns another farmhouse with a large barn on the edge of the nearby village, 200 yards away, and here we have held small photographic exhibitions and painting classes. Sergio and Franca regularly organize dinners for our guests to which the villagers are also invited. Sometimes they are all entertained by local musicians playing and singing folksongs, or poets improvising in ottava rima, a folk tradition which has recently been revived. We have a lot of plans for this venue but sometimes lack the time to carry them out. In summer Nicholas, Jennys son, organizes a teatro di paglia: he and his friends build an amphitheatre out of straw bales and local people come to act, sing, play musical instruments, as the spirit moves them. He has now formed a network of straw theatres, of which there are 35 scattered all over Italy. Nicholas, by the way, is assistant editor of an ecological magazine, Terra Nuova and also finds time to help Jenny when she has problems (frequent) with her computer.

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