Europe, Italy, Visso

Travel Bloggers Go Wild … Riding Donkeys in Umbria, Italy.

May 10, 2012
Monti Sibillini National Park

It seems a lot of travel bloggers have taken donkey rides recently! Perhaps donkeys have become *the* new cool (albeit smelly) way for us to get around?

Take for example, Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic who just took a trek that landed her on a beautiful beach in Hawaii. Then there was myself and a bunch of others who did the exact same thing while attending a post TBU conference “Sport and Nature” themed blog trip in Umbria, Italy.

Yet instead of riding through a hot, lush, tropical paradise like Ayngelina, our tough group of travel bloggers woke up early (despite suffering from hang-overs exhaustion) to “brave” a cold, dark and windy spring day in Monti Sibillini National Park.

As our bus drove us along the long winding road up to our destination within the park, we were treated to stunning views of the Norcia Valley. Finally we reached Castelluccio Plateau which sits at 1500 meters above sea level.

Monti Sibillini National Park

It felt like we had reached the ends of the earth! Stark, beautiful, lonely, surreal. Is it a mere coincidence that the Gorge of Hell is one of the primary attractions within the park?

We stopped for a mandatory photo opportunity and then continued on to meet-up with Roberto from La Mulattiera and of course his crew of donkey friends.

Monti Sibillini National Park

Oh and there were horse and sheep too!

Monti Sibillini National Park

Monti Sibillini National Park

It tuned out that a young donkey named Daphne was to be my trusty companion for our excursion. This is me getting ready to jump on board for the ride.

Monti Sibillini National Park

Why the camera you ask? Well, when on blog trips like this you have to be prepared to be treated like the star you are and it may happen that paparazzi follows you everywhere. Even when you are wearing no make-up, suffering from lack of sleep and wearing several layers of clothes.

Finally I was set to go! Daphne and I were going to conquer the world …

Monti Sibillini National Park

Or maybe not! While I might have been ready to conquer the world, Daphne wasn’t game. She preferred to stop and eat grass!

Check out Daphne being led ahem … astray for food indulgence by the hilarious Peter Parkorr of Shock and Orr.

Monti Sibillini National Park

Here’s Lea from tripwolf with her friend Mozart.

Monti Sibillini National Park

And Annalisa, a journalist who joined us on the blog trip.

Monti Sibillini National Park

As it’s hard to attempt to snap photos from the back of a donkey (as Laurel from Monkeys and Mountains can attest), I hopped off Daphne to walk and embark on an extreme photo shoot.

Monti Sibillini National Park

Monti Sibillini National Park

Monti Sibillini National Park
Monti Sibillini National Park

Monti Sibillini National Park

Sadly, the time passed by all too quickly and we then had to head back and move on to our next activity. It was hard letting my cute Daphne go …

Monti Sibillini National Park

If you’re looking for yet another beautiful place to visit in Italy, do consider a visit to Monti Sibillini National Park. It’s even better in the summer when the plateau is painted with the color of the local flora and fauna! And of course, take a ride with Daphne, Mozart and the rest of their donkey posse.

Another cool attraction in the area? Visit Marmore Falls, Europe’s tallest manmade waterfall!

* Disclosure – My ride with Daphne was complimentary as I was taking part in a TBU blog trip. Any opinions expressed are entirely my own

 

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28 Comments

  • Reply Laurel May 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Well Nina was my favorite, but yes it’s surprisingly difficult to take photos from the back of a donkey. I think I have a photo of you and Daphne if you still want it. Thanks for the mention.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 11, 2012 at 10:57 am

      @Laurel – I’m sad as I didn’t have any photos of you and Nina! She definitely has personality. Loved your post and photos about the donkeys. 🙂

  • Reply Roy Marvelous May 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Hehe, I took a donkey ride in Santorini last summer. It’s was just a 30 minute ride up a hill but well worth the 5 euros.

  • Reply Christy @ Technosyncratic May 11, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Ha, crazy travel bloggers! Donkeys are remarkably strange animals – I’ve never figured them out. Which is a strange thing to say, but it’s true!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 11, 2012 at 10:59 am

      @Roy – Is it odd that it’s my dream to take a donkey ride in Greece? Your ride sounds amazing and only 5 euros? Even better!

      @Christy – We are a wild and crazy bunch! They are a bit strange. 🙂

  • Reply Ayngelina May 11, 2012 at 5:09 am

    That looks like an awesome trek – mine was only half donkey, it was a mule but hey I`m not complaining!

  • Reply Adam May 11, 2012 at 10:42 am

    ….making me jealous! though it looks cold so i’m okay with missing it 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

      @Ayngelina – Your trek looked amazing too! Ours was great as well. 🙂

      @Adam – In a day or two, you’ll be living large in Costa Brava and I’ll feel the same. I want to go back soooo much!

  • Reply Andrea May 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Looks like fun – the scenery is amazing! I’ve never ridden one but we put John on a donkey in Petra – it was hilarious!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      @Andrea – It was fun and the setting surreal. Nice that you got John on a donkey! See, I knew it was THE cool way to travel. 😀

  • Reply Jeremy Branham May 12, 2012 at 2:19 am

    I love the photos. Very picturesque. However, the donkeys look at you like “why are you taking my picture? Isn’t it bad enough you are going to get on top of me when all I really want to do is eat grass?”

    The sheep looked much friendlier as they frolicked in the fields (do sheep frolick? does eating grass count as frolicking?).

    Monti Sibillisi looks beautiful though. I am not sure the donkeys would agree.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      @Jeremy – Thanks so much! This area is really really beautiful. A little different from a typical Tuscan countryside view! Ahhh, the donkeys were friendly just independent little buggers. I like watching the dogs trying to herd the sheep … it’s quite funny seeing them corralling the sheep.

  • Reply Cole @ Four Jandals May 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Looks like fun Cheryl! And what a beautiful area of the world. So jealous that we didn’t get to visit Umbria for TBU but hopefully next time 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      @Cole – It was a blast, even with the hangover. 😉

      I so wish you could have made it to TBU. Would have been great to meet you both!

  • Reply Katie Shaw May 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Interesting. The landscape doesn’t look like Italy at all – or at least not the Italy I know. More like Iceland!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      @Katie – The landscape is rather stunning I think. I like how it gives you a different picture of Italy. 🙂

  • Reply Tristan May 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Gorgeous! And I’m somewhat envious, as I’ve always wanted to ride a donkey (and have palm branches thrown at me, but that’s a different story).

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      @Tristan – You should definitely go on a donkey ride! It’s great fun. Whaaattt?? Tell me this other story.

  • Reply Stephanie - The Travel Chica May 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I rode a donkey on a Greek island once….I think it was Santorini. And I wrote in my journal, “first time riding a donkey.”

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 19, 2012 at 9:29 am

      @Stephanie – They should have Four Square badges for the experience!

  • Reply Spencer May 22, 2012 at 7:21 am

    I reckon that would be so much fun! It certainly is in a beautiful setting.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 22, 2012 at 11:29 am

      @Spencer – Try this if you can! And agree, the setting is really beautiful.

  • Reply Dean May 23, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Beautiful landscape. It looks like a lot of fun!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

      @Dean – It was really fun! I’d love to do it again.

  • Reply Alexa Meisler May 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Donkeys are pretty cool I must say. You took pretty great shots! Daphne looks pretty happy being your companion on your journey across Umbria.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      @Alexa – It was a really fun time, I have to admit. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 🙂

  • Reply Umbria on the Blog May 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    It was worth braving your hangover–ahem–exhaustion to snap these gorgeous pics!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      @Umbria on the Blog – Thanks for stopping by! It was definitely worth it and I’d do it all over again. 🙂

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