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Horseback riding in the Val di Cecina

Itineraries immersed into nature and villages, stopping at wine cellars

The first itinerary takes you to the Guardistallo forest, through Strada Provinciale Del Poggetto, towards Poggio Gagliardo. Here the landscape suddenly changes and offers a spectacular view of the vineyards of Poggio Gagliardo in Montescudaio. Leaving the vineyards, the path continues along the artificial lake, recommended as a picnic spot. Soon you’ll reach the asphalt road that leads from Cecina to Casale Marittimo. The trail curves to the right, and after about 20m of asphalt, turns left onto a white road as far as a group of houses. From here, follow the road through a wood of holm oaks, ash and roverella. Ride alongside the Fosso delle Tane stream for a stretch and after crossing a little bridge, go up a white road to the Il Poggio holiday farm on via della Camminata, a refreshment point for horses and riders. Proceed south down the asphalt for about 500 metres in the direction of Bibbona and take the first turn-off on the left.

Bolgheri - Credit: Aris Gionis

The dirt road goes up towards the hills, crossing the Campigallo estate, belonging to Oliviero Toscani, a famous photographer and breeder of quarter horses. From here, continue to climb until you get to the “Macchia della Magona” Biogenetic Nature Reserve, an area 1,650 hectares in size with more than 30 km of roads closed to motor traffic, and follow the white road as far as the Passo del Terminino, a crossroads that serves as a reference point for many itineraries inside the reserve. 

In about an hour, you’ll reach Podere Santa Maria, an important rest stop for horses and riders that also offers a blacksmith service. The Horseback Trail carries on along a white road still in the Macchia della Magona Reserve, keeping to the left of the Botro Grande stream through dense vegetation (in the direction of Podere Campo di Sasso). From here, we recommend going to Bolgheri, passing through Campo al Bastaio. The village is well-worth a visit and offers the chance to have something to eat and taste excellent wine.

The beach in Marina di Bibbona
The beach in Marina di Bibbona - Credit: heliotrop

If you’re visiting Tuscany in the winter, we have a second itinerary that’s perfect for the off-season. From the Santa Maria Estate, take the cart track that leads to the Macchia della Magona Reserve, crossing the Passo del Terminino and continuing down route No. 5, which runs alongside the Botro Grande stream as far as the barrier. Now take track No. 9 which more or less marks the border between the wooded area to the east and the cultivated hills to the west.

Go past a picnic area at Campo di Sasso and on to the barrier at Aione, where you leave the scrub. Down a gentle, continuous descent, cross the asphalt via Bolgherese (which connects Bolgheri and Bibbona). After a while, you’ll cross the bridge over the Fosso dei Cancellini and head towards the coast. In quick succession, you’ll cross the main roads S.S.1 Aurelia and Old Aurelia (S.P. 439) and the railway line near the La California Stables and Riding Centre. Proceeding through flat countryside, you’ll cross the Fosso a Trogoli stream to reach the residential area and camping sites in Marina di Bibbona, where you can reach the beach through the pine woods.

Horseback riding in Tuscany
Horseback riding in Tuscany

The return journey begins from the seaside and for the first part runs alongside the Fosso a Trogoli as far as the Casone. Cross the railway tracks, the Old Aurelia and the S.S. 1 Aurelia, and along a beaten dirt track continue towards Bibbona until you reach the sports fields near the Peccianti oil mill. Ride for a short distance along the asphalt via Bolgherese (in the direction of Bolgheri) as far as a sharp bend to the right, where, on the left, you’ll take the dirt road which at first goes through the thick vegetation leading to the Macchia della Magona Reserve. The route continues down the dirt road going from the cemetery to the crossroads of tracks 5 and 9 that run through the nature reserve. Following track 5, climb up to the Passo del Terminino, where the descent begins towards the Sterza Valley and the Podere Santa Maria, the point of departure.

Villages and wine cellars
Querceto winery
Querceto winery - Credit: Walter Schärer

From the Santa Maria Estate, cross the Sterza Valley, fording the stream, and taking the road that climbs through lovely countryside up to the hamlet of Querceto, with amedieval castle that’s been transformed into a winery. Stop here for a visit to the cellar and a wine tasting.

From Querceto, take the road that starts near the cemetery and descends gently down to the Cecina River, which you’ll cross via the bridge in Casino di Terra. Going along a white road, you’ll reach the Fattoria del Mocaio, an old farmhouse that was turned into a holiday farm. The trail continues on to Casaglia, a medieval village in a magnificent position overlooking the Cecina Valley. The trail turns back towards the Cecina River, which has to be forded before reaching high ground in Montescudaio, where you can stop for an excellent glass of wine and a meal at the La Giuncaia farm.

The wine route is at its best in the land of Montescudaio DOC wines, and continues towards the village of Guardistallo and the Fattoria Santa Maria where you can visit the ancient “vin santo” (sweet wine) cellar with more wine and extra-virgin olive oil tasting. Last but not least, in the heart of Guardistallo, you can taste the wines and visit the cellars of Leonida Landi. The excursion ends by “soberly” returning to the Santa Maria Estate.