Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Riding again, Saturnia, Wine Tasting

Another day, another beautiful ride! Today we would be joined by a new couple staying at the castle - amazingly enough, they were also Australian, and also on a 4 week long honeymoon! Holy cow, we said - is this typical to take a month long honeymoon in Australia? No, they laughed, we just happened to meet two such couples in quick succession.

It was so romantic -- Chris scheduled this stay and ride here as a surprise for Katherine. She being a horsey gal without a horse for some time, she was thrilled. And he was such a great sport. He signed them both up for a whole day ride - but after learning he'd only ridden half a dozen times, the guides (and we) recommended they try out a half day tour first and then decide whether to ride more in the afternoon. This worked out great as they joined us for the morning -- and Chris was quite happy to dismount and let Katherine head back out later for the afternoon ride.

Vicki getting the horses prepared.

One of the biggest (non draft) horses we've ever met!

Dave graduated today to riding Rossa, as Pabo was assigned to Chris.

Simone was our guide today.

Poppies! They were scattered here and there but never in a very stunning display. But they were very pretty none the less.

Katherine and Chris

Kind of a goofy pic of Dave, but I love the fields behind him. They were all around, but strangely any good pictures of them are lacking in our collection.

Photo Op!

Another one that I love the way it turned out - no posing involved!

Sweet girl gets a thank you.

So, briefly I want to describe a philosophical debate that we had going through much of the trip. Not long ago I came across a critique of American culture that said, among many other things, that Americans are obsessed with schedules. Ruled by the clock. Valuing "DOING" things over the more existential "BEING".

This argument has continued to play through my head for the past month or so, and I'm still not sure that there is actually a conflict between doing and being. However, it WAS a convenient excuse that I could use to explain the fact that we put very little planning into our trip before going. Just No Time - because of course we were slaves to a long list of clocks.

So, for example, we never had plans for what to do with our touring times on the days that we were riding in the morning. Friday is a great example -- what to do now?

Well, we'd been driving around, and saw a lot of brown 'historical marker' type signs pointing to Saturnia, each with a little symbol on it which we finally sussed out to be a fountain. But what IS Saturnia?? We decided to go and find out.

So, it turns out the town of Saturnia is really not of much interest. Pretty little town with a nice square - but not much happening. We finally stumbled upon the Tourist Information office, and she told us about an old Etruscan Gate over behind the church. So we checked it out.

The Etruscans predate the Romans. So in fact this gate is very, very old, while the Roman cobblestones that run through it are merely very old. Hee. Yes, the ruts in the cobbles are from Roman times.

It's hard to tell in the photos, but this is a fairly steep grade here. I just can't imagine trying to get horses and carts (with iron-rimmed wheels) up this bumpy road. BUT - the road does still exist. Amazing to sit down and just imagine the traffic that has been through here.

And speaking of "still exists", so does this gate from Etruscan Times. Look closely - the original stonework does not have mortar. The tourist info says that this is the important Roman road, Via Claudia - that it led to the town of Saturnia because of the proximity to the healing springs.

Springs? There are springs?

Back to the Tourist Information office. Yes, there are springs - 2 km back down the road, at the corner where a bunch of cars are parked.

I'll say there are springs

They were way cool! Strong sulphur smell everywhere, but the multitude of little pools all down the hill side were beautiful! And just here off the road, free to the public. (if you knew where you were going - because there aren't signs.)

Leaving the springs, we saw a sign for wine tasting and decided what the heck. Pulled in and asked for some tastes. This guy was wonderfully welcoming and friendly - but didn't speak a word of English. But that didn't stop him from giving us the full run down of his different wines - LOL!

As we were sitting there, I asked Dave if the label didn't look very familiar. We had to confirm when we got back to the castle, but it turned out the bottle we bought two days earlier in that wonderful wine merchant in Pitigliano was from this winery! I still can't get over that coincidence! We tried to explain that to him... and sadly to just no avail. Oh well.

The view of the springs as you leave the valley.

Heading on home we stopped at another place for wine tasting. While there, a Dutch family of 4 also stopped in. They own a home in Pitigliano, and were just in for a holiday and were stopping by this winery to stock up for their stay. We chatted and when they learned we were staying in Grotte di Castro at a castle - they said "OH, at Castello di Santa Christina? WE stayed there a few years ago! Tell me - is Giacomo still there?"

Yes, he is. We filled them in on our riding tours. The woman and her daughter are both big into dressage, so they convinced the rest of their extended family to vacation there even though the others weren't riders. The husband explained it was fine because they also have a grass tennis court. HEE - that and many other amenities. It really was a spectacular place to stay and we would jump at the chance to return.

She said that we should say hello to the Count for them. We actually hadn't had the chance to meet the Castle's owner yet - he was away at a riding competition that week. But indeed he returned that evening and we met him just before sitting down to dinner. He did remember the dutch family - from years ago even. And was a very personable fellow. We thanked him for opening up his incredible home to visitors.

For a second time we opted for dinner at the castle, and dined with Katherine and Chris. Again we seemed to be the only 4 guests staying at the time. A little later Vicki and Simone and other members of the staff came in to join us - and it all evolved into an evening of Karaoke, with the Count leading us off. It was pretty hysterical.



Post a Comment

<< Home