Guided walking vacation in rural Tuscany, Italy

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Guided walking vacation in rural Tuscany, Italy


The tour has been designed for not more than twelve walkers or riders so that no one will feel just one of a crowd. The farm where you will be staying has an organic certificate. There are about three hundred olive-trees which produce all the olive oil used in the kitchen; ducks and pigeons are raised for the table, hens lay eggs daily and a well-stocked garden provides fresh vegetables. Other food is bought at a local farmers’ market, Chianti wine comes from local vineyards and only Fairtrade tea and coffee are used.

The house has been carefully restored, using local materials: chestnut wood for the beams, terracotta for the floors. The furniture has all been bought locally. Wood for heating the house is brought from the Chianti hills: there is a large fireplace in the sittingroom and a woodstove in the kitchen which heats most of the house. All the water comes from a spring on the farm.

Jenny is an active member of CAI, the Italian rambling association and helps to find and maintain paths all over the countryside. All walkers and riders are encouraged to recognise and respect the local crops and to refrain from leaving litter (the horses sometimes let us down in this respect, but what they leave is strictly organic). Jenny likes to teach the local children not only to ride but to recognize trees and flowers of the area, while Eraldo tells them about the deer, the porcupine and the wild boar that roam the woods, as well as the birds: in spring it is common to hear hoopoes, bee-eaters and golden oriels, while the nightingales sing day AND night!


Everyone working at the farm is Italian, with the exception of Jenny, of course, who has however lived in the area for forty years and feels almost Italian. For 30 years Pietro, an ex-peasant farmer, presided over the kitchen but since his death the cooking is now done by his son Sergio and Franca, a buxom local lady, who also organizes cooking courses. Marco, Sergio’s son, does part-time work in the stables and the kitchen, while Eraldo is our ebullient instructor and guide.

The Centre owns another farmhouse with a large barn on the edge of the nearby village, 200 yards away, and here we have held small photographic exhibitions and painting classes. Sergio and Franca regularly organize dinners for our guests to which the villagers are also invited. Sometimes they are all entertained by local musicians playing and singing folksongs, or poets improvising in “ottava rima”, a folk tradition which has recently been revived. And if Pietro is in the vein, he will recount one of his famous stories. We have a lot of plans for this venue but sometimes lack the time to carry them out. In summer Nicholas,Jenny’s son organizes a “teatro di paglia”: he and his friends build an amphitheatre out of straw bales and local people come to act, sing, play musical instruments, as the spirit moves them.Thanks to his activity there are now 35 straw theatres in Italy. Nicholas, by the way, is assistant editor of an ecological magazine, “Terra Nuova”.

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