Centro Ippico Punta Ala: interview with Gaia Bulgari

Centro Ippico Punta Ala: interview with Gaia Bulgari

Beautiful, elegant and full of personality. The Centro Ippico Punta Ala is an equestrian centre in the midst of a green expanse that offers amazing, exciting adventures. A historic structure for major national and international equestrian competitions and polo matches, it has recently been renovated by Gaia Bulgari, who has taken over its management to return a welcoming venue to the surrounding area and provide a serene environment for both horses and people.  

The Stables in Punta Ala perfectly balance a full immersion in the surrounding nature and riding activities. Why did you decide to run this place?
The space had been up for sale for many years and I had always wanted to do something for Punta Ala and for the Stables. When I was young, I was passionate about horse riding and the sport in general. I love Punta Ala, I have lived here since I was a child and I think the area is wonderful. The fascinating landscapes of the Tuscan coast frame the venue and provide a unique place for healthy, safe horse riding. The sea is on our doorstep and is truly surprising. It adds that extra fascinating touch. So I'm doubly passionate about my dream come true. I'm really happy about what we have achieved so far and what we can still achieve.

You began this adventure in 2019 with some major work. What specifically?
We sorted out the grandstand and the polo ground, both of which needed improving. In September 2022, we held a major event which proved very successful with participants of all ages, from adults to teenagers to young children, who came specifically for this exciting venue. Many local people and visitors to Punta Ala have very special memories of the Stables, just like me.  

What is the objective of the Centro Ippico?

We want to spread the culture and pleasure of horse riding that fully respects the animal's requirements, and to encourage even the novice in the saddle to learn and train.  We believe it is essential to help every rider develop their skills step by step and guide them in establishing a special, unique relationship with their horse.

You have also opened a riding school. Who is it for?
It's next to the arena and is open all year round. It's for children and adults. Summer is obviously the busiest period with many children attending our Pony Summer Camp from 17 July to 1 September. An opportunity to be together, outdoors, and learn the ABC of riding. This summer we have organised two displays, one in July and one in August.  

What events have you programmed for the coming months?

A recent major event was the show jumping tournament in the Maremmano Championship, held on 11 June. We will be holding another in September on a date as yet to be established. The Ladies' European Polo Championship, organised in collaboration with Alessandro Giacchetti, head of the polo division for the Italian Equestrian Sports Federation (FISE), will take place in Punta Ala from 5 to 9 July. I'm really pleased about this event, which will see women take centre stage: the women's discipline only began five years ago and our Italian ladies are the outgoing champions with two consecutive victories in the most recent editions. The teams taking up the challenge will be Italy, Germany, France and Great Britain. It will be a very friendly event, open to everyone, with free entry and a speaker, who will entertain by explaining what is happening as it happens. This is the first year we will be hosting international teams throughout August, who will train here and challenge each other in the second and fourth weekend of August in two tournaments:  “Sparviero Polo Cup” and “Hidalgo Polo Cup”. Lastly, we are organising the second edition of the “Punta Ala Polo Cup” from 14 to 17 September.

What activities do the Stables offer?
Group and individual horse and pony riding lessons for adults, teenagers and young children; specialised equestrian show jumping; theoretical lessons on getting to understand and care for the horse; horse livery; beach hacking and autumn/winter hacking.  
Can you let us in on some of your future programmes?
We are constructing an indoor arena, so we can not only continue our riding school lessons during very cold days or bad weather, but also provide other activities that require a covered structure, such as riding therapy, which is very popular. Our sport can be life-saving for everyone, especially for those with some sort of difficulty. We are also working on bringing the great show jumping competition back to Punta Ala in 2024 in the large, green field, as it used to be many years ago. Our main aim is to encourage and develop all types of equestrian activities with professionals in the sector: social, entertainment, sports and recreational activities. To light-heartedly experience this sport in immense spaces and in good company.