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To care for and understand the horse, an animal that has always given friendship and affection.
Experience the delights of Monte Amiata with Ivan and Giulia
The leisurely clopping of hooves follows you faintly on the long rides which take you forgotten places. Whether going along a dry riverbed, along the leafy carpet of the woods, or following the paths in the Park (catching glimpses of the sea sparkling in the far distance), the horse is sure footed and looks after its rider.
Amiata is an ideal place for equestrians. Its numerous paths which wind towards the mountain or towards the valleys and the nature reserves offer many divers opportunities. And the existence of riding stables in the area means that we can offer guests high quality tours. We use the Ambassador Stables at Arcidosso where Ivan and Giulia will take good care of you and your children.
Guides from the Ambassador Riding Centre will accompany you and aim to show you something of the rich diversity found in this area. Different rides go through varied landscapes;the beech woods on Amiata, the lusher countryside down in the valleys, the scrub on Monte Labbro.It will be a memorable experience.
Arrival at the hotel in the late afternoon and a cocktail to welcome you.
Dinner with traditional local dishes and accompanied by great wines from Montalcino, Montecucco, Scansano and Montepulciano.
To day will be spent in giving you an idea of what the area is like.The first visit will be to Montenero where we visit one of the most interesting wine producing estates in the Montecucco area, Perazzeta, and then go to the WineMuseum to discover the history of wine making round here.
Next we visit the Castello Banfi, a major wine producing estate in the Brunello area.You can taste their prized wines in the shop, and in the castle itself you can visit the GlassMuseum which traces the history of bottle making through the centuries.Awalk along the road to the castle between the rows of cypress trees is a must.
Next we go to Montalcino where besides visiting the old centre we visit the Fort.The town is also an ideal place for lunch.
10kms. further on we reach the beautiful ninth century Abbey of Sant’ Antimo where the monks still sing the Offices in Gregorian chant.
Before returning to the hotel we go to the riding stables to meet the guides and see the horses.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.Wines from Castello Banfi will be served with dinner.
Discovering Monte Labbro
After breakfast at the hotel leave for the riding stables for the first ride.
Route: Monte Labbro and the WildlifePark
Time taken: 6hrs.
Degree of difficulty:average
Lunch: packed lunch
We ride from the stables to “Merigar”, a Tibetan community where we visit the very interesting ‘Gompa’ or temple.The next stretch takes us the Monte Amiata’s Wildlife park to see how protected species are enabled to live in absolute tranquility within it thanks to the hard work of all the people involved in the project. The countryside is very characteristicwith few trees and rocky outcrops.
After the park we ride up to the top of Monte Labbro (1193m) to see the Torre di David, all that remains of the nineteenth century religious community, followers ofDavid Lazzaretti.The landscape is particularly arresting.
After a brief halt we head for home and will arrive back at the hotel in time for dinner.
After breakfast, leave the hotel for the stables.
Route: Along the rocky path ‘della Vettoraia’
Time taken: 6hours
Degree of difficulty Average
There are so many possible rides round here, but the one to Sasso (rock) della Vettoraia can’t be missed, for here you can feast your eyes on the indescribably beautiful view. This morning’s ride takes us up to the rock. While the horses rest, we go on foot a few hundred metres before starting to climb the rock face. After squeezing through a natural hole in the rock we emerge onto a little platform which gives us this astonishing view: Arcidosso’s Aldobrandeschi tower, Monte Labbro, Monte Aquilaia, the Senese hills and the Colli Metallifere. You are in fact standing on a huge trachyte mass of lava, but you feel surrounded by a sense of peace and tranquillity.
After this halt we return with the horses to the stables.
Return to the hotel for dinner
Monte Amiata’s Hot Springs - Abbadia San Salvatore
Breakfast: a buffet at the hotel.
Today is given over to culture and gastronomy. After reaching Abbadia San Salvaltore we visit the old centre, the Abbey of San Salvatore and the Museum of the Mines.
Lunch at “Il Gatto e la Volpe” (The Cat and the Fox) restaurant.In the afternoon we go to the hot springs at Bagni di San Filippo. The hot water gushes out over rock encrusted with lime, atbetween 25 and 52 degrees, so it is possible to bathe here even on the coldest winter day. Bathing in the hot water pool relaxes both body and mind and is most invigorating.These waters have several medicinal properties: they are good for both your skin and your hair, but their best effects are on your muscles.
Return to the hotel for dinner.
Buffet breakfast at the hotel
Leave for the riding stables
Route Along the Chestnut Way
Time Taken: 6 hours
Degree of difficulty: Very difficult
Lunch: Packed lunch
After leaving the stables along a series of tracks andpaths we reach the “Strada della castagna” (The Chestnut Way). Indeed Monte Amiata’s chestnut woods are among the most famous in Italy. They grow on the slopes in the provinces of Grosseto and Siena and for many generations they were the principal source of food for the inhabitants of this splendid mountain in southern Tuscany.
It is possible to do the whole ride in half a day; the scenery is varied and the glimpses of the surrounding landscape are unequalled.
Return to the stables and then to the hotel for dinner.
Route: Santa Fiora and the Convent at Selva
Type: Art and culture
Degree of difficulty: Average
Lunch: Packed lunch
We reach Santa Fiora along thickly wooded paths, dirt roads and sandy tracks. Santa Fiora was the seat of the Aldobrandeschi and Sforza families and is one of the many villages on Monte Amiata. A little further down, outside the walls and beneath the castle’s ruins we reach the Peschiera (fish pond) a large medieval and renaissance structure built round the source of the River Fiora as a place to farm trout. Our ride continues for another 8 k.ms. towards Selva and the Convento della Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity Convent) surrounded by a natural oasis of silver pine. After a short halt we set off for home.
Return to the hotel for dinner.
Final departure after breakfast.
For those who would like just a day's riding, particularly families who come for a week-end on Monte Amiata, we have several suggestions for exursions.
Some tours' ideas:
We leave the stables and go along a path past Merigar, the Tibetan Dzog Chen centre, past the Wildlife park and into rocky territory to reach the almost bluish limestone of Monte Labbro: a harsh, unspoilt and very beautiful place. The fields of the slopes on the mountain give way to an arid stony landscape almost like a moonscape.Landscape of this sort covers the south west of Amiata, including Monte Labbro where the summit is 1193m. above sea level. Its bizarre shape like a cone, was once home to David Lazzaretti, and from there, on a clear day you can look down to the sea.
A ride along paths through chestnut woods to visit places of interest: “la Fonte dell’Acqua Bona” (a fresh water spring), ‘il lanificio ottocentesco” (a nineteenth century woollen weaving mill), an “opificio” (an old workshop). Then we follow parts of the so called chestnut way running through country belonging to Arcidosso and Castel del Piano.
At first we ride through an area of natural reforestation by silver pine, and then reach the beech woods between Poggio Lombardo and Poggio Trauzzolo 1200m above sea level. Here the path broadens out (the track is marked by the usual red and white signs indicating that it is part of the path that encircles the mountain) and climbs up among grey granite-like rocks, to reach “Il Gatto D’Oro” (The Golden Cat).Along the way you can see many typical indigenous plants, animals and birds, such as wild raspberries and strawberries, white anemones and wild orchids; jays and green woodpeckers are among the most common birds, but there are also falcons and buzzards. Among the various animal tracks it is easy to pick out those of wild deer, wild boar and notice the squirrels as they whisk away.
Leaving the stables we go along the slopes of Monte Labbro and on to Monte Aquilaia and up to the top. This wonderful ride flanks the wildlife park on the one hand and the Piscinello and Rocconi nature reserves on the other thus it is easy to spot some of the many birds of prey living in this area such as: buzzards, the Egyptian vulture, hen harriers, kestrels, sparrow hawks, peregrine falcons, the short-toed eagle and the rare Lanner falcon. At this point we turn towards Monticello Amiata going along a path with wonderful views. On a clear day you can see the Maremma coast with Giglio, Monte Argentario, Le Formiche di Grosseto and Elba beyond.Then the path turns towards Montelaterone and climbs again back to the stables. In the latter part of this trip you can clearly see the valley with all the villages on its slopes: Seggiano, Castel del Piano, Montelaterone, Montegiovi and the hills on Siena’s doorstep in the distance.
This ride takes all day. We join the path with encircles the mountain through the chestnut woods, and then on towards Poggio Bielo (1303 m.) which we reach after riding through an extensive area of conifers and reforestation. There is no actual path up to the summit, but we leave the reforestation area and go into beech woods. From the top there is a wide view, from Monte Labbro down to the valleys of the rivers Fiora and Albegna and on tothe Tyrrhenian sea and La Montagnola (1571m). After Poggio Bielo our route runs through beech woods as far as Pozzo di Catana (1150m) and then the Madonna del Camicione (1200m) and continues on through beech woods until we reach Prato delle Macinaie (1385m). Here we stop for lunch and then leave to ride back to the stables, along a track which first goes down towards Castel del Piano and then goes to Arcidosso. As in other parts of the ride, there are unforgettable glimpses of the countryside and the sea from here.
Ivan Lazzeroni has owned the Ambassador stables for over 15 years, and is also a farmer.His initial interest in horses came through breeding them, an enthusiasm he later passed on to others.He did his military service in the Savoy Cavalry specializing in Show Jumping, and also acquiring the basic principles involved in shoeing horses.Later shoeing became his real interest so much so that he now has a smithy at the stables and shoes his own horses. He is also a fully qualified guide and riding instructor with the F.I.S.E (Federazione Italiana degli Sport Equestri).He continues breeding and breaking in horses. During the winter he also works as a skiing instructor.
Giiulia Pomoni has always helped Ivan. She loved horses even before she worked with them: she is not only extremely professional, but very willing as well and is particularly good with children. Indeed besides teaching many children in the neighbourhood to ride she has also worked with groups organized at national level such as Cral ENI and BOOGAN, and at holiday camps run by municipal corporations and the “Comunità Montana”. Besides teaching the youngest pupils, she helps Ivan break in the foals and takes out groups for treks. In the winter months Giulia teaches in the elementary school