Italy, Molise - Abruzzo Trail Ride
This is an adventurous trail for the riding fit. It is quite a strenuous trail but the rewards are magnificent. You ride through mountains, forests and meadows in diverse and totally unspoilt countryside. At 3300 feet above sea level you will enjoy the clean air and relax western style on responsive quarter horses. This National Park was founded in 1921. By now it is over 50.000 acres. There still is a lot of wild-life, including wolves and even bears.
7 nights, 5 ½ days ridning, approx 7-9 hours per day during trail.
Preliminary day-by-dag program
Saturday - You are expected to arrive on Saturday evening. After a welcome drink there will be dinner with your host/guide. A three-course Italian dinner will be served every night, accompanied by local wines.
Sunday- The morning is yours. You may sleep late, take your time over breakfast, do whatever you like. Before lunch there is a safety-briefing. Then we groom and saddle up the horses, followed by a short demonstration in western riding. After lunch the trek starts. Three hours later we will reach the village of Vastogirardi. The horses will stay in a paddock. We sleep in B&B and dine in a nearby restaurant.
Monday - At about 10 a.m. we get in the saddle and follow the Tratturo Celano-Foggia. A Tratturo is a 2.000 years old track that is still used to move cattle from the far south where grass is scarce in summer. Picnic is a shadow place in the forest. We continue along the Tratturo as far as the river Sangro. Here we leave the Tratturo to follow small paths. Sunbathing lizards take to their heels. The air smells like the Italian kitchen. Rosemary and thyme grow everywhere. Next we climb through a forest after which we reach Roccaraso. Here we dine and spend the night. Roccaraso is at an altitude of 3,600 feet a.s.l. It is locally a well-known ski-resort.
Tuesday - After breakfast we leave Roccaraso behind us and reach the Piano delle cinque Miglia (the valley of five Miles). Here we enjoy a long canter! At the end of the valley the first tall mountains loom up at either side, a gravel road takes us to the Montagna Spaccata (split mountain) where benches and old oaks tempt us to stop. The narrow, stony road, going up and up, takes us to a watertrough where the horses can drink, while we enjoy the view over the valley. We continue our climb till all of a sudden there is an open space in the forest that offers a beautiful panorama. After this we lead the horses on foot until we reach “Agriturismo Jovana” (mountain hut) where lunch is served. The owner has won various awards for his “ricotta” (cheese). After lunch we follow the gravel road which takes us upwards to Scanno. Outside the village the horses are left in riding centre “Il Ranch”. Enrico will pick us up with a mini-bus and takes us to his hotel. Dinner is at a restaurant in the historical centre of Scanno. After dinner we usually make a walk to admire this old village.
Wednesday - Today is going to be challenging! We leave the civilized world behind us and ride through the unspoilt nature of the mountains of the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo where no cars are allowed. With a bit of luck we should come across wild boars or some deer. The wolves and bears keep away from the clatter of hoofs. A brooklet shows the way through the mountains. After a long climb we halt at 6,300 feet a.s.l. and enjoy the panoramic view. The mountain peaks are covered by snow until late spring. Then we lead the horses down on foot. It is too steep here to stay mounted. Having reached the right path we mount again and ride through extensive forests. In a meadow we have a picnic and if the weather is fine you might like a nap. After this the route continues through the forests until we reach Pescasseroli. After the long ride we deserve a good dinner and that is what we are going to have at the lovely place of Eleonora.
Thursday - Today there are many miles to cover so you will be in the saddle for abt. 8 hours. After breakfast we return to unspoilt nature. The route gets steeper and if the sun is shining everyone will be hot. Having arrived in a valley there is a canter to enjoy. Around noon we arrive at Val Fondillo. There are almost four miles of a very exiting trail along the river. It leads to one of the most protected areas of the National Park, Camosciara. Here we stop for picnic. After many miles there is the (storage) lake of Barrea deep down on the left. And on we go, this time through a different type of forest until, most likely exhausted, we reach Sandra's riding centre. The horses are left here. Dinner is at the restaurant in the centre and we spend the night at his comfortable hotel.
Friday - The last stage leads through Alfedena. The mountains of the Parco Nazionale are now behind us. Just outside Alfedena there is a plain where we can go for a long canter. A little later we pass Ponte della Zittola, which is the border between Abruzzo and Molise. Then we follow part of the Tratturo Castel di Sangro-Foggia in the foothills of Alto Molise. Having passed the hamlet Montalto it is time for a picnic. After lunch it takes four more hours to ride home. About 7 p.m. we are back at the farm-house, unsaddle the horses for the last time and enjoy the farewell dinner.
Saturday - Departure after breakfast.
N.B. Due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances the programme may have to be adapted.