Enjoy a riding holiday at this country Castle estate, with its lovingly restored 17th century castle, is on the Tuscany Umbria border, close to Lake Bolsena. It has been in the same family for generations and once a favourite summer retreat of the young Pope Pius XII, this estate makes a wonderful holiday base. Daily rides take you to the hilltop town of Onano, past ancient Etruscan tombs, along the infamous Brigand’s Path and to the shimmering crater lakes of Mezzano and Bolsena. You can visit the fortified towns of Sorano, Proceno and Pitigliano,  There is a sand school for lessons, or you can just relax by the pool, play tennis, taste local wines, try a thermal spa or enjoy a cooking lesson! Perfect for families, riders and non-riders, this estate is a magical and peaceful retreat in the heart of Italy.

Key Facts

  • March to November
  • Set departures and dates on request
  • Centre based
  • 7, 4 and 3 night itineries
  • 2 – 5 hours riding per day tailored to suit
  • Suits confident novice and above
  • Weight limit – 100 kilos

Riding Level and Horses

There is great flexibility at this estate – the ride programs are aimed at reasonably competent riders, who are secure, comfortable and in control of a horse at a walk, trot and canter in open country. Other programs are more flexible and novice and even beginners can be catered for with lessons in the sand school. The horses have been carefully selected, according to their attitude and breed, to match the guests different levels.  The trail riding suits confident novices and above, but beginners may take lessons in the arena.

The horses are a mixture of Thoroughbred and Warmblood crosses, and local Italian crosses, varying from 15hh to 17hh and also one or two children’s ponies. They are all well-schooled, responsive, willing and enjoyable to ride and are very well looked after.  The horses are kept in paddocks in the 100 hectares surrounding the castle.

Tack is English style. Riding helmets must be worn and a packing list will be provided when you book the ride.

Rides are usually limited to a maximum of 5 guests.  On the specific riding programs, there is generally 2 to 5 hours riding a day, broken with rests and a long lunch.

There are two large sand arenas available, with one arena used mainly for the flat work and the other larger arena is used for show jumping.  At the opposite side of the castle they have created a 2000 metre cross-country course with beautiful wooden jumps and soft reliable ground.


A week of riding in the enchanting countryside between Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio.  Beautiful horses and experienced guides will lead you every day on a fantastic ride across one of the less inhabited Italian country sides. Beautiful nature and also a lot of history surround the estate, with castles and archeological sites framing the view.

The old trails used by the “Brigands” (outlaws) to escape from the law 200 years ago provide a fantastic opportunity to explore this beautiful area on horseback, just as they did!


Itineraries:- 7 night stays are generally Saturday to Saturday, mid-week breaks Sunday to Thursday (4 nights) and long weekends, Thursday to Sunday (3 nights) –

Although there is always some flexibility. The itineraries below are examples of standard 7, 4 and 3 night stays – but please note they are just examples and routes and daily arrangements may be varied in your guide’s discretion if weather, local conditions or circumstances require.  If you wish to do less riding or swap rides out for lessons (novice to intermediate level) this is also possible. Daily timetables also vary a little with seasons – in spring and autumn riding is later in the morning; in summer there is an earlier start with a longer rest in the middle of the day (and full day rides not usually possible if it is very hot / in peak summer months).

Example Itinerary – Full Week (1 day riding and 4 morning / afternoons)

Day 1 (Saturday)
Arrive at the estate in the afternoon. Shown to your room to settle in and, depending on time of arrival, there may be time to meet the horses. Then before dinner, perhaps join your hosts for a welcome drink and tour of the restored castle.  A briefing on the riding planned for the next few days and time to ask any questions, before returning to the ‘taverna’ for dinner. Night at the estate. (D)

Day 2 (Sunday)
Enjoy breakfast at the castle, then down to the sand school to meet the horses and for your first morning ride. Time to try your horse in the arena and once everyone is settled, set off riding into the hills on the west of the plateau on which the castle is situated. First head along a private road from the castle then turn off and follow a ridge with fields and woods on either side. There is some good going on the dirt track here and you will be able to try your horse at a trot and canter if you wish before reaching a viewing point, from which, on a clear day you can see the enormous sparkling crater of Lake Bolsena to one side and the hills surrounding smaller Lake Mezzano to the other. Sometimes you can even see the sea, some 25 miles away, glinting in the distance like a mirror. The route continues on winding tracks, through wooded hills to reach a forest, Selva di Onanano, before returning to the estate.  Lunch in the taverna or outside by the pool and the afternoon free to swim, explore on foot or perhaps for a game of tennis. Dinner and night the estate. (B,L,D)

Day 3 (Monday)
Another morning ride, perhaps towards Lake Bolsena, the biggest volcanic lake in Europe. There are wonderful glimpses and views of the lake as you ride and you will also see scattered archaeological sites, including the ruins of many Etruscan tombs, some now used by local farmers as wine cellars but still reminders of the incredible history of the area along the way. The return route to the estate crosses the village of Gradoli, with its magnificent Farnese renaissance palace, a wedding gift from Pope Paulus III Farnese to his nephew in the 16th C. Once at the top of the crater, follow an old track through woods back to the estate. Lunch in the taverna and afternoon at leisure. Dinner and night the estate. (B,L,D)

Day 4 (Tuesday)
Breakfast and set off again.  The route today takes you through rural country, wooded hills, small fields and along a forest track that winds around the hills to bring you out below the fortified town of Onano, with a medieval castle at its centre.  Centuries ago this town was the stronghold of the Monaldeschi family who ruled the area in the middle ages. Afterwards, ride through woods and sometimes in open fields with lovely views, to the little medieval church of Madonna delle Grazie and along a winding country track back to the estate. Lunch at the taverna and the afternoon at leisure. Dinner and night the estate. (B,L,D)

Day 5 (Wednesday)
Breakfast and a full day ride to Lake Mezzano. The lake, once a volcanic crater is the site of human settlements that date back to the pre-Etruscan era (approx 2700 years ago), now submerged under the water due to earthquakes. From the estate follow a route through farmland and hills thick with chestnut woods, then down towards the open plain where the lake lies. There are good chances to canter (for those who wish) along tracks that cross the fields and vineyards bordering the ‘Selva del Lamone’ Naturale Reserve. Lunch at a magical spot, a small rural restaurant in a wonderful position overlooking the Lake – tie up the horses, relax at tables set up in the shade and enjoy the view! Weather permitting there might be time to swim in the lake before riding back through woods to the estate (approx 30kms riding). Dinner and night at the estate. (B,L,D)

Day 6 (Thursday)
A rest day, free for you to make your own plans and perhaps visit some of the local sites. There are several fortified villages close to the estate – Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovano – are all set in commanding positions and well worth a visit. Orvieto, with its wonderful Italian gothic cathedral, cobbled streets and interesting shops is a little further afield as is Civita di Bagnoregio, known as the ‘Dying Town’, birthplace of Saint Buenventure and strikingly placed overlooking the Tiber River. Another option, only 18 km away from the castle, is the Terme de Sorano, a well-organized Spa where you can swim in the warm natural waters (37 C) and relax beneath two beautiful waterfalls. Dinner and the night at the estate. (B,L,D)

Day 7 (Friday)
Breakfast and your last morning ride out returning to the estate for lunch and the afternoon at leisure, to explore or just relax by the pool. Dinner & final night. (B,L,D)

Day 8 (Saturday)
Breakfast and own arrangements for onward travel. (B)

Contact us at info@snaffletravel.com.au or on Tel (+61) 03 5428 6061 for further information and answer any questions.

Accommodation and Food

Accommodation is based at the estate. The old farmhouse in the grounds of the castle, has been converted for guests and there are several apartments, a dining room and swimming pool.  All accommodation is in twin/double bedrooms which have an en-suite.

The food is freshly prepared and authentic.  Expect lots of pasta dishes and other Tuscan style cuisine, with a chance to try many of the local specialities.

Breakfast is at the castle.  Lunch and dinner (three to four courses) is usually eaten at the estates taverna.  Lunch can sometimes be a picnic brought to meet you out riding.

The ground floor of the farm house opens onto the main terrace, which overlooks the main swimming pool. On the ground floor, there is a large “taverna” with brick vaulted ceilings. The space is divided into three main areas: dining room, billiard room, ping-pong room, plus a large kitchen available for all the guests and equipped for cooking courses.

Dates and Prices

Please note due to constantly fluctuating exchange rates, prices are quoted in Euros and we can provide an Australian dollar rate based on the ANZ bank sell rate.  Rates are subject to currency fluctuation until  the final balance is paid.  Please contact us for the most up to date pricing.

High season: 18th June to 16th September
Low season:  1st March to 17th June & 17th September to 6th November

Full Week (7 nights) – Saturday to Saturday
Euros €1099.00 low season*; Euros €1229.00 high season* (Based on Half Board)
Non-rider on request, single supplement – Euros €126 – €168

Mid Week Breaks (4 nights) – Sunday to Thursday
Euros €735.00 low season*; Euros €829.00 high season*.  *Based on Half board.  Non-rider on request, single supplement – Euros €72 to €96

Please check with us as sometimes specials maybe available.


  • All accommodation in twin or double share.
  • All meals as per itinerary 7, 4 or 3 nights.
  • Horse riding, horse gear and guide as mentioned on the itinerary chosen

Not included

  • International flights and transfers to the Castle estate (paid locally)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Sightseeing, other activities and spa
  • Drinks not included with meals, additional incidentals and tips
  • Single room supplement on application

Other Information

Grotte di Castro 01025 , VT, Italy

Weather website: http://www.holiday-weather.com/

During the ride you will enjoy sightseeing.  The property has a swimming pool, bikes to hire, tennis court, cooking classes on offer and a spa nearby.  Golf and Boat hire can be also arranged.  If you do not have a car, sightseeing excursions with a car and driver can be arranged for an additional cost.

Languages spoken
English and Italian

Closest Train or Airport
The closest airport is Rome and the closest train station is Orvieto train station.   Transfers can be arranged for an extra charge.  We also recommend hiring a car from Rome.

Please ask about other activities of which there are many available from the estate.

Terms and conditions apply to this riding holiday

Please contact Snaffle Travel for further information, booking terms and conditions, at info@snaffletravel.com.au

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