During my time in Italy I had the pleasure of visiting Gio Ranch, a beautiful western style horseback riding farm nestled into the Southern Tuscany hills near to the seaside village Castiglione della Pescaia.
This blog is written by Hanna Rogers
Here I met Gio, who has a wonderful laid back manner and is very accommodating. I stepped out of the car and met two of Gio's four dogs; Stella and Jet. I was greeted with a glass of prosecco and a slice of almond cake as it was one of their team members birthdays! We enjoyed our fizz and some cake looking out onto the stunning hills from Gio's Ranch. It was honestly breathtaking. Just a short drive from the nearest town, yet not a single sound other than from the nature around you and the happy chatter from Gio's team.
After we had indulged, Gio continued to show me around the yard, which was absolutely pristine. The entire place had a calm energy about it, the farrier was trimming the horses and each horse was so laid back. Most of the horses at Gio's ranch are in their younger years of life but sure do have the maturity of wise owls. I think all horses, dogs and humans took on the calmness that Gio's Ranch carries. How could you not, when in such a tranquil location breathing fresh clean air, feel at peace. I couldn't take my eyes off the hand made western saddles he has for each ridden horse, they were absolutely beautiful with such incredible details carved into the leather, and each saddle is accompanied with a seat fleece for extra comfort! He has a wide selection of riding hats in all different sizes for his customers, accompanied with chaps and jackets should you need. Gio also makes his own olive oil AND wine .. ! Just one of the many perks of being at this beautiful ranch is being able to purchase these products without the middleman!
Gio continued to show me all of the horses out in their paddocks and I got to see his beautiful foals that were born right on the ranch! I was then shown to the pool, and the apartments that are set behind the olive grove. This is where guests stay during their time at Gio Ranch, every little detail is thought through and the comfort levels here are high. Herbs and flowers from the garden freshly picked and displayed, ready to greet your senses on arrival in the rooms. Beautiful paintings and ornaments warm the rooms, and not to forget the absolutely breathtaking views that are bursting through the windows.
I ate some lunch and spent the afternoon by the pool reading my book and cooling down from the hot Tuscan sun with a few swims. I also met a lovely couple that came to join me while I was sat on the loungers that had not long arrived and were staying with Gio on their Honeymoon over from the states. We shared many stories with each other (mostly horsey, as you can imagine) and discovered we would all be riding together that evening. We were so excited! So as the afternoon went by and the evening was getting closer it was time to switch the bikini for trousers and boots and head down to the stables.
Now the ride that I would be joining was a very special trail ride. Through the summer seasons, when the evenings are warmer and daylight is longer, Gio offers a special experience on horseback that I recommend so very highly. Full moon trail riding! On the evening of July 3rd we had a big beautiful bright full moon. If you have much experience with nighttime walking/horse riding you'll know just how amazing the moon is at lighting up the way. And it did just that! But first, let me tell you who my trusty stead was! Naira, an American paint quarter horse and the most well behaved 5 year old I have met! Polite, calm and light in the hand. Naira behaved impeccably and has a very wise mature head on her, which was fantastic as I was riding with my Fuji Camera and she made it very easy for us to go for canters and for my camera to stay attached to me!
We rode down gravel tracks, through olive groves and onto beautiful open fields with plenty of stretches to canter on. The diversity of the trail didn't disappoint, and the views kept on providing! After enjoying two and a half hours of riding through the beautiful Tuscan hillside, the sun was starting to drop with the light flickering through the trees and we reached our destination... For dinner!
It was a beautiful quaint little restaurant set into trees. All outdoor seating with twinkling lights and an extremely calm atmosphere. You can sense the energy of nature just oozing it's way into everyone that sits within it. People enjoying their food, wine and company in peace and tranquility. The service was fantastic, the restaurant owner allowed you to feel right at home. Wine soon went around the table and we enjoyed lots of conversation getting to know one another as our starters were being created. Before we knew it we were presented with our first course. I had a trio of bruschetta, one was an olive pate another mushroom and of course a traditional tomato topping. Delicious, for my second course I had beautiful plant based gnocchi and to finish some delicious fresh fruit. The night soon went by and it was very dark outside.. perfect for our full moon ride return home! Once we all had let our food settle and finished the wine of course, we headed back to our horses, that had been waiting so patiently for us in the forest. The team had been regularly checking on the horses throughout the meal to make sure they were happy safe and enjoying themselves too.
We all hopped on board our horses again, with reflectors on our legs we were ready for the moon to light our way! Our guide also had a head torch .. for safety measures of course. The full moon definitely had our energy levels high, with songs being sang and giggles into the night sky we saw the moon rise and she really did light our way home. The horses were so well behaved, very calm, and all stayed together. We rode back the same way that we came but honestly felt like a whole new trail with it being dark and late. When we arrived back at the ranch we untacked our lovely horses and they all had dinner waiting for them which they enjoyed very very much. Gios barn was lit up with fairy lights, the magic of the area still continued. Everything was glowing including the people. What an experience we all embarked on together! Arriving back at the ranch past midnight... It was also my birthday! The gratitude I have to experience something like this, to end one solar return and start another under the full moon. A day I will remember for the rest of my life, the people I shared it with and their special occasions too.
The horses were put back with their herds and we equally went to "hit the hay". A fantastic sleep after a fantastic day. When morning came around I had a few hours to play by the poolside, say my goodbyes to the horses and head off on my next adventure, Rome!
Gio's Ranch is exceptional, no details are missed, I loved my experience with Gio so much! Make sure to check out their website: www.houseofgio.com/gioranch. Thank you for your time and reading my blog post about my trip in Tuscany and my time with Gio. I already can't wait to get back to Tuscany again next summer!
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