I am often asked which is my favourite ride out. This is not easy to answer as I enjoy all of our trail immensely! Each one for a different reason though. At the moment I am really loving our ride past the ‘Pian delle Querce’, for several really good reasons….
The first reason is that this is a forest ride, which offers welcome shade from the sun. It’s not yet hot enough to start the ride outs ridiculously early, but still by 9am it is already 25 degrees and getting hotter. The horses cope very well with this range of heat, but once it gets over 30 degrees it is too much to ask them to take us on long ride outs. This is why in July and August we must start riding by 8am so we can get back before the sun begins to bake us all! Riding the Pian delle Querce means we can ride at a normal time of 9 or 10am and still stay cool enough to scale that huge hill for those awesome views.
A welcome break from the sun.
That is my second reason for loving this ride – the views. Every so often when the dense forest opens up and you are struck by the incredible scene in front of you. First a glimpse over to the east, taking in the easy rolling hills and tiny towns so typical of Tuscany. Then opening right up to a view encompassing Pisa, the sea and the appennine mountains. It’s fantastic, on a clear day in the cooler months you can see Pisa’a coast as well as the snow on top of the mountains at the same time! On the way back down the hill we are treated to peeks of Volterra sitting mighty and proud on top of it’s enormous hill about 20km in the distance. The view is often so clear you can make out individual buildings of the famous town.
The view of Volterra.
The many different tracks through these woods are another reason to enjoy this ride out so much. I can ride through this forest every day for a week and never have to make exactly the same trail. There are easy tracks for novices, steep, rocky tracks for the more adventurous and a sublime sand gallop track for the speed-demons!
Gentle forest tracks, ideal for novices or those prefering an easier ride.
Of course in the woods is also where you are going to find the majority of the wildlife around here, another reason to love this ride out so much. Most of the woods we ride through are part of the nature reserve, so there is lots to see if you look carefully. Just this week we have seen a fox, several deer, a snake and evidence of porcupine trails! Today I even found a tortoise at the ‘aqua rossa’!
My current top reason for loving this particular ride out though is the cherries. As we pass the namesake of this ride – the Pian delle Querce, we find an abundance of cherry trees with their fruit at various stages of ripeness. Today we stopped and indulged in a good 10 minutes of cherry eating, with one of the Australian ladies on the ride commenting she had never eaten cherries directly off a tree before! This is such a simple thing for some of us that we take for granted, but for some people it’s these small wonderful things that make their Tuscan trip so memorable and so perfect.
Unfortunately my camera has decided to go on strike, so I am unable to post some of the phtos I would like to. Instead, here is a video taken on the Pian delle Querce trail from last winter, (with a rather dramatic score!) but hopefully it will give you an idea of why I love this trail so much.
/Sharon, La Fiaba