These pictures were taken when we rode out around the Vald’Egola a river that connects Montaione and San Miniato. The gorgeous model here is Chloe – an English rider out for a week at the start of May.
This valley is best known as an area where the White truffle grows well, and the truffles collected here are demonstrated at the National White Truffle fair in San Miniato in November.
Barbialla and Barbialla Nuova were originally one farm, but were divided between two sisters thirty years ago. Both farms are huge, with many beautiful old country villas now used for eco-tourism (Barbialla Nuova has a completely bio-farm) and runs a large herd of Tuscan Chinina cattle that eat only completely organic material and live outside almost all year round in large pastures.
We rode past the Collegalli farm, a historical estate that breeds pheasants for hunting. This farm has a magical panoramic view over Montaione and San Miniato, and would have been a bustling hub of activity 100 years ago. Today it seems almost frozen in time, and the inhabitants of the farm still keep geese, chickens and pigs much like they would have in the past.
We rode up the old road, which in some parts has suffered big landslides, which makes it unusable for vehicles but fine for walkers and riders. The Whole trail takes around 8 hours to ride, so we only do a part of it on our day trips; usually we stop at an abandoned ruin amongst the olive groves – but today we rode up to the chapel of Collegalli. This tiny Church is located in the middle of the forest, and is unmarked by signage. The Church is open, so we could look around inside too. As it was, the weather was nice and sunny – so we sat outside and let the horses free to graze while we enjoyed a picnic.
On the ride home we stopped at Barbialla Nuova to let the horses drink, and then rode up via Riccardo Niggi’s workshop on our way back to Castellare. The weather was good the Whole day, and the horses were just fantastic. A lovely day all round.
Now to finish – an old Italian poem about Barbialla and horses 🙂
Oh Maresco, a indovinalla
chi morì senza assaggialla
dalle parti di Barbialla…
Tu rimani sempre a galla
hai la barba pure gialla…
hai la barba e pure i calli
per le corse a Collegalli
coi puledri e coi cavalli
alla sfida del cavillo
senza slip e tacchi a spillo…