Siena - Maremma - Siena
This is a tour through Tuscany as the normal tourist will never see. You drive with our well-trained four-in-hand teams, put to shooting breaks, along the backtracks, you will be hosted by the families of the vintners and castle owners, by the countesses and princes, your will be treated as a guest and not as a tourist.
Do not expect the luxury of a 5* hotel, you will be accommodated sometimes in simple farmhouses, sometimes without private facilities in your room, but this is the entrance fee to see Tuscany as it really is. You will gain atmosphere. The wine and food you will be served is the food the Italians eat, and the wine the Italians drink, things you will never get in an Italian restaurant out side Italy. You will always feel welcomed and never exploited as a tourist. You will travel at a speed allowing you to see the flowers along the road and to chat with the people working in the fields.
Have a look at our selection of pictures of this journey.
15 days , 14 nights
Dates and Details on Request
Our horses are of the Old Oldenburg breed, the classical old German coach horse, and of the Kladruber breed, the horse once pulled the state carriages of the Austrian emperors.
Our carriages are the classical shooting (or Hunting) breaks, seating 8 persons and pulled by a team of four. Their springing is comfortable.
Luggage transfer is provided by us, so please mark your suitcases clearly with your name. You do not need too much luggage as nowhere a formal dress is expected. Details please see out of our dress code. If you want to take more than one suitcase per person we recommend to repack your suitcases, so that you do not need all of them every day. The other, not needed luggage can stay in our escort vehicles.
Guests make their own way to Siena. We meet around 07.00 pm in the hotel "Castagneto", a 3*-hotel in a former villa, with a view of the historic town of Siena. In the evening we visit the famous piazza del campo, where, during the summer, the "Palio", the horse-race takes place. Dinner in a typical restaurant in the old town.
We start around 09.00 am from the riding stable a bit outside of Siena, and drive along quiet country roads southward. First wide open country with light brown soil lays on both sides of the road. Later we come into oak forests. We cross a river (Merse) at a ford, than use an abandoned road through dense forests high above the river Merse. At the little town of Monticiano we will take a snack in the bar near the market square, surrounded by curious local residents. Another 1 ½ hours and we bend off into a rough track which leads us up and up to the castles of Luriano, where the Marchesa Misciatelli runs a private stud farm, breeding an old Italian breed: the Persano horse. The castle built out of natural stones rules over the oak forested hills, which are full of wild boars. We stay in the hunting lodge: simple rooms, clean and a cosy dining hall will host us for the evening and the night. Marisa, the energetic cook, will serve a hearty meal.
Not too early in the morning we hitch the horses and drive up the final steep track to the castle yard, where the Marquesa will serve a drink. After leaving this imposing place we ride a mile or so along the road and then off into the "Jungle": Narrow tracks and dense oak forests for a couple of hours. Now and then we cross a creek, sometimes the bridges are washed away, and all hands have to help to fill the gap with rocks and poles, to allow the carriage to cross the stream. After leaving the forests, we have a wide view and if visibility is clear enough, we sometimes can see the sea in the far distance. Shortly after noon we enter the private estate of Peruzzo. An estate of 12.000 acres. Signore Marucchi himself will welcome us and urge us to join him for lunch. Beautiful rooms with much private atmosphere, a breath-taking view over olive oil gardens and wine fields as well as oak trees. A superb Italian hospitality. We will stay here two nights.
Relaxing, walking around, taking a ride with the carriage to some neighbouring villages, a visit to the Etruscian tombs. In the evening, again, a typical Tuscanian dinner.
We take an early morning leave of the estate of Peruzzo and drive through wide flat country: land which has been recultivated and drained after a more than thousand years of malaria infected swamps. Now dairy land on both sides of the track. Lonely country, with almost no towns. Very few are built on top of the hills, more like fortresses than farm villages, to protect themselves from the raids of the pirates of North Africa and from the malaria down in the swamps. Early afternoon we arrive in a little walled-in place called Paganico where we will buy some food for the picnic. Shortly after leaving town we stop at the banks of the River Ombrone for a picnic. Another two hours later we arrive at the private horse farm of Poggio Caiano near Campagnatico where we will spend the night. A dinner served in the private house of the owners closes this day.
As we have a long distance ahead of us (some 50 kilometers) we will start rather early. Open country, hidden farms, rough roads. No taverns, no towns anywhere! We will have a picnic en route and give the horses some water. In the evening we approach Alberese, a small place, consisting out of a former palace of the Austrian arch-dukes (where we will be accomodated!), some houses, and a large state-owned estate with hundreds of wild bulls and huge herds of horses, the Maremma cattle and the Maremma horse! Here the "Butteri", the Italian mounted herders (like cowboys) are still working as they did some hundreds years ago.
We will spend two nights here. The morning offers an opportunity to those with a minimum of riding experience to join one of the Butteri (Cowboy) for a ride from 07.00 am to 11.00 am, sharing with him his daily work. The carriages will start for a ride into the (very restricted) natural reserve of Uccellina about 11.00 am, with a picnic in the caves inside the reserve. The evening will bring a farewell dinner in Rispescia, in a well known restaurant for sea-food.
Gateway is either Rome airport, about every hour a fast train leaves Rome for Grosseto (ca. 110 miles), from Grosseto rail station one can take a cab to Alberese (ca. 9 miles), if your arrival at Grosseto fits into our schedule, we will be pleased to transfer you from the rail station to Alberese. Or you fly into Pisa and take a train to Grosseto.
Arrival at Alberese, ca. 9 miles South East of Grosseto, a small former Habsburger garrison for a Cavalry and an Artillery regiment of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, consisting out of a little palace, some accommodations of the former military staff and a big estate with semi wild horses and cattle, owned by the Regional government of Tuscany. We will probably stay in the little summer palace. (As this palace is at time being under restoration, we might be accommodated in a house nearby, if the restoration is not yet finished).
Evening: dinner in an excellent seafood restaurant in Rispecia.
Day 9: Parco Uccellina, Distance: 20 miles
Ride with the four-in-hand shooting breaks (seating 6 passengers plus driver + groom) through the Natural reserve of Parco Uccellina along the coast of the Tyrennic Sea. By special permit we are the only ones allowed to drive with our carriages into this Natural Reserve: we will pass huge umbrella pine forests, the dunes, the sandy coastline, will have a picnic near the caves.
Evening: dinner in an excellent seafood restaurant in the nearby village of Rispescia.
Day 10: Alberese - Campagnatico, Distance: 30 miles
Drive along old merchant tracks out of the middle ages, crossing the river Trasubbie, lunch in a little local tavern along the road.
Evening: overnight in the Villa Bell Aria of the Contessa Luisella Querci di Rovere Galli, a charming lady hosting us in her family villa inside the little walled-in town of Campagnatico. Dinner in a local ristorante.
Day 11: Campagnatico - Castello di Argiano, Distance: 30 miles
Stage Campagnatico via Paganico, a medieval walled-in town out of the times of the Sienese fights against the Florence city state, to Argiano. Crossing the river Ombrone (depending on the water status!), picnic at the banks of the river. Following a drive through the nearly endless vineyards of the castle of Banfi, formerly owned by a noble family, the last member of the family, Theofila of Banfi, was head of the house hold of pope Pius X. Now it has been restored to perfection by an Italo-American trust, financed by Japanese money. Center of the famous Tuscan red wine "Brunello".
Overnight: castello di Argiano, this castle was the Southern most out post of the Sienese city republic during the renaissance times, now owned by an English-Italian couple, she, Sarah Sesti, is out of a famous English horse breeding family, he, Guiseppe Sesti is a multi-talented vintner, writer (a famous book about the Zodiak in all the various cultures and tribes of the globe), organizer of a Summer opera festival, member of the Cardellini-singers and, and, and full of good stories.
Dinner with the family in the old (now deconsecrated) chapel.
Day 12: Argiano, Distance: 0 miles
A second day at Argiano. Around lunch outing (by car) to the monastery of San Antimo, a basilica out of the 8th century, now lived-in by Cistercensian monks, where we can listen the Gregorian chants.Lunch in a nearby tavern.
On the way home we can stop a the wine town of San Angelo in Colle.
Evening: dinner with the family, visit of the Cardellini, an a-capella folk singers group of the Monte Amiata, the highest mountain in Tuscany.
Day 13: Castello di Argiano -Castel Nuovo di Tancredi, Distance: 19 miles
Drive from Argiano via the castle Gioconda of the Marquesi di Freschobaldi and through their vineyards; along the ridge between the Ombrone valley and the Orcia river.
Stop for a picnic at Castiglione di Bosco
Evening: the abandoned old farm houses of Aiale and Castelrotto, two of 16 farmhouses of the castle Nuovo Castello di Tancredi, owned by the Principe Guido Aldo Venturini del Greco, married in 2nd marriage with an American interior designer. This is a house in the middle of no where, the horses are stabled underneath, rooms are simple but clean, a spacious living room with a huge open fire place will serve for the dinner, prepared by the wife of the local farrier. We will visit the Princes cantina and either dine there or in one of the old farm houses.
Day 14: Castel Nuovo di Tancredi Via Maggio, Distance: 22 miles
Carriages drive from Aiale via wild and steep tracks to Via Maggio. Picnic along a little stream.
Evening: Via Maggio, a small lonely place with nice little apartments and good food.
Day 15: Via Maggio - Siena, Distance: 25 miles
We leave Via Maggio and slowly approach Siena. We will have lunch in a private farmhouse, where the farmer will serve a good Lasagne and his own red wine.
Evening: overnight in a small 3* hotel just outside the city of Siena, a wonderful view at the citadel of Siena and the dome.
Dinner in a typical ristorante in the historical old center of Siena.
You may fly out of Florence (ca. 40 miles from Siena, frequent commuting motor-coach connections from Siena). If requested, we can arrange a bus transfer.