Close your eyes and imagine Tuscany.
That’s where we were: in the picture perfect Tuscan scene complete with rolling hills and small crumbly villages in the distance. We were here to spend the afternoon riding horses through this beautiful countryside.
It took a while to get there though.
Every time we leave our village we get lost. Without fail we drive down narrow country roads with no idea if we are heading in the right direction, or follow the autostrada for 50 km before realising we’re going completely the wrong way. Our trip to the tiny village of Iano where La Fiaba riding stables are located was no exception. No autostrada this time, just winding roads through olive trees and vineyards. It was supposed to take 1.5 hours but it took nearly double that before we finally found it, stressed and exhausted.
The last thing we felt like doing was getting on a horse.
Turned out to be just what we needed.
This part of Tuscany near San Gimignano and Volterra is completely unspoilt, just undulating hills of green and gold and the odd abandoned farmhouse. As we set out on our horses the potholed country roads and the noisy car engines dissolved into this tranquil scene with nothing but the sounds of birds chirping and the horses’ hooves.
We rode through the diverse landscapes of this area—up and down the hills; through meadows of long grass (a constant source of temptation for the horses); fields of purple, red, yellow and white wild flowers; past vineyards and olive groves; and into the shady woods for a respite from the Tuscan sun.
We didn’t come across anyone else on our three hour ride except for a brief stretch on the quiet road of the sleepy village when a few cars passed by. If the tour groups in Florence and Pisa are getting to you, then this is the perfect antidote.
The only buildings we rode past were two ancient villages, abandoned during World War Two and slowly being reclaimed by nature as trees and bushes grow through the ramshackle stone houses.
During the ride we alternated between peaceful strolls and fast-paced canters. Nothing relieves stress more than an exhilarating canter through the countryside. Sharon gave Simon a tip to make his canter more comfortable and it was his best experience yet, and blessedly in control.
Horse riding is one of our favourite ways to experience a new place. You have a unique perspective from horseback and can cover more ground than on foot, while still exploring at a leisurely pace.
La Fiaba Riding Stables
Most of our riding experience in recent years has been in South America and we noticed the difference here instantly. Sharon the friendly British owner actually asked us about our riding experience, chose us appropriate horses, gave us hats, and then started us off in the riding school to get used to our horses and give Simon some riding tips.
We also appreciated that groups are kept small – we were the only ones on our ride with the two guides, and the maximum is eight (including guides). The 14 horses are well looked after, easy going and responsive.
If you are looking for a break from museums and churches in Tuscany, need to burn off some gelato, or just want to explore the Tuscan countryside then we’d highly recommend taking a riding trip with Sharon at La Fiaba. They offer two hour, half and full day trips from 36 euros, and there’s the option of a tempting wine tasting ride too. All experience levels are catered for.
This is a gorgeous, peaceful part of Tuscany and worth spending more time in. Our friends Dani and Jess stayed at the agriturismo Belmonte Vancanze which is just 1km from the riding stables – read their review for more details. Their pool certainly looked inviting after our hot ride.
Our thanks to Sharon from La Fiaba for providing our ride.
Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? See our guide to the 50 Best Gifts for Travelers. They are ideal for travel lovers who want to pack light and include something for every budget.