Adventure vacations in Italy

Saints and Warriors


This riding tour in Italy is a fantastic opportunity to experience the Italian countryside by horseback and enjoy local cuisine. Whether your trip includes Il Palio or the standard itinerary, this is sure to be a tour you will not soon forget.

The fortresses and castles which were so important earlier, especially during the 15th century conflicts between Florence and Siena, are now partially in ruins. Much of the land is going back to nature, which is all the better for riding, and the soft beauty of the countryside is enhanced. This ride features a real celebration of food and wine.

Il Palio, which takes place in July and again in August, is more than a horse race. This complex Italian festival has existed for hundreds of years and continues to be full of excitement, colorful in its costumes and flags, and involving the entire city for weeks. The ride that includes the Palio excursion will have a modified and flexible itinerary to allow riders several opportunities to experience the various Palio events during the week, which will include the Prova Generale – the last trial race before the Palio, the Contrada Dinner the night prior to the race, and of course, a balcony view of the famous horse race around the Piazza del Campo.

Situated in a tranquil region southwest of Siena, the circular stone walls of the Castello di Tocchi serve as a hospitable central base for either full or half-day rides into the surrounding countryside. From the lovingly restored suites of this medieval hamlet, which was built on the foundations of a 12th century castle, riders have an opportunity to experience the enduring magic of Tuscany. The Saint and Warrior ride’s itinerary cleverly combines riding with an investigation of the region’s gastronomic delights.

Castello di Tocchi is a partially restored medieval hamlet built inside the fortified walls of a XII century village. The setting is extremely peaceful; isolated by miles of flourishing woods and cultivated fields from any busy commercial centers. The rooms have been tastefully restored and furnished with antiques.

Delicious and generous typical Italian meals are served throughout. The meals are one of the greatest pleasures of this ride, and allow you to prepare, sample and enjoy regional and seasonal Tuscan cuisine. Some meals at the Castello may be prepared with participation from the guests who wish to learn about Italian cooking.

  • Overview:
    Most of the horses are Maremanna cross and Lipizzaners, with some other mixed Italian-bred horses. They are well cared for and responsive.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Maremanna, Lipizzaners
  • Trip Pace:
  • Tack:
    English and limited western
  • Weight limit:
    230 lbs

While riders are on horseback, there are no separate activities planned for non-riders, who can enjoy the accommodations and region independently.

Siena train station.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Meet your guide at the train station in Siena at 6:30 pm. Drive to the 1,000 year old Castello di Tocchi (a 40 minute drive). Settle into the rooms where you will be staying for the week, and relax with a welcome drink and aperitivo. Dinner at the Castello.

Day 2

Depart from the stables and head northwest, passing by the medieval village of San Lorenzo a Merse, where you can admire the Castle of Capraia. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the Castle of Poderina. In the afternoon cross the river Merse and by the castle of Catiglioni che Dio Sol Sa before reaching the stables near the village of Pentolina where the horses will be kept. Return by car to Castello di Tocchi for dinner and overnight.

Day 3

Return to your horses at for your day’s ride to the romantic Sal Galbano Abbey, the first example of the Gothic style in Tuscany. To get to this partially restored 13th century Cistercian abbey you ride through forests and ancient villages. Visit the abbey and take a short walk to the chapel at Monte Siepi, where you will see the famous sword in the stone which is said to pre-date that of King Arthur. Here you will hear the story of the Saint, the Sword and the Stone. Lunch today is at a nearby restaurant, after which you will ride to the Castle of Luriano. This castle dates from the 12th century and was used as the commercial and political customs between the Republic of Siena and Volterra. It has been owned by the same family since the 16th century and horses are bred on the property; they have recently begun to train the Anglo-Arabians to run in the Palio race. At the end of the day you will travel back to Castello di Tocchi by car for dinner and overnight.

Day 4

After another magnificent breakfast you will be transferred to the Castle of Luriano, where you will ride through the trails and roads typical of the area before arriving in the small village of Scalvaia, where you will have lunch in a local restaurant. After a short siesta, continue riding back to the stables at Castello di Tocchi along the hills of the Farma valley, one of the least unspoiled areas of Tuscany. Dinner back at the Castello with plenty of wine to taste and stories to tell.

Day 5

In the morning go on a gentle ride in the surrounding hills toa dmire some great views and panoramas. Back at Castello di Tocchi and after a light lunch, visit a local winery to enjoy their production and taste some cheese and salami that match the wine perfectly. A visit to the local tack shop and local village will round out your day before going back to the Castello for the evening’s dinner.

Day 6

Explore the beautiful valley surrounding the Castello di Belagaio on horseback. Ride an ancient stone road to visit a horse farm which specializes in the breeding of Maremmano horses, historically used by farmers for working cattle. Indulge in a picnic lunch before returning to the stables of the Castello di Tocchi by a different route. Here assist the chef in preparing the farwell dinner with recipes from La Cucina del Castello, the culinary school and private restaurant at Castello di Tocchi.

Day 7

Depart for Siena after breakfast.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and may be modified. The Palio itinerary differs slightly to include visits to the festival.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

The week of June 28-July 4 includes an excursion to the Palio, an event during which fever grips the Tuscan hill town of Siena for a wild and exciting horse race in the Piazza del Campo, Siena’s shell-shaped square. Other trips can be set upon demand for groups of 2 or more, Sunday through Saturday, April to November. Winter dates in November and the end of January through March 19 are also available upon request, based out of Villa Ferraia and offering additional activities when riding is not possible due to weather.
Additional Pricing Information:
Prices are based on the dollar/euro exchange and are subject to change. Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time deposit is paid.

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Preferred Trip Dates

Saints and Warriors
May 21, 2024
January 1, 1970
January 1, 1970

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Your host and her staff in Italy are the definition of "hospitality".... We feel as if we left behind a special family - and it was our privilege to have been a part of their lives if only for a week.

Linda Giannino