Force of Nature

Maria Cecilia Fiorucci unabashedly dreams of leaving the horse world better than she found it. The answer, of course, is ‘Elementa’-ry.

By Jessica Hein

When Maria Cecilia Fiorucci’s aura overlaps your own, it’s as if you can feel a pronounced shift in the elemental forces composing the atmosphere. A buzz of energy surrounds her—self-assured and driven to accomplish whatever she’s set her mind to—and with a flourish that comes from someone who knows what she wants and expects her high-standards to be met in full.

And yet, though Maria Cecilia’s persona is electrifying, she’s quick to put you at ease with a warm smile, comfortable conversation and an invitation to talk horses. She’s easy to spot in the warm-up pen or stable—find her horses, and she’ll likely be there too, doting on each one as if they were a favorite child, fishing treats out of her belt bag and whispering praises in flickering equine ears as she lays her head against theirs.

Maria Cecilia always felt a spiritual connection to horses, harkening back to her youth when she bounced atop Italian riding-school ponies and admired her father’s palomino Quarter Horses grazing behind her family’s home. A transcendent partnership between human and horse is rooted at her core and fuels the flurry of activity that bursts forth from Elementa, Maria Cecilia’s equestrian home base near Bracciano, Italy, about an hour northwest of Rome. From there, Maria Cecilia quickly established herself as one of the top reining horse owners in the world. But even larger goals loom, and she leads by example to foster greater opportunities for Western riding enthusiasts and greater welfare for the horses worldwide.

From the Earth

Though she was surrounded by horses as a child and teen, adulthood brought marriage and a child and, with that, a need to take a step back from the equine realm. But a true horse-lover’s spirit never fully wanes, and Maria Cecilia made her way back to horse ownership around 2015 with the purchase of a towering black Friesian on which she enjoyed riding for fun, flowing mane and all.

“I think with horses and horseback riding, it’s always there,” Maria Cecilia said. “You can put it aside for some time, but it comes out again eventually.”

Around 2017, Maria Cecilia and husband Giuseppe acquired a sprawling gentleman’s farm in the rural countryside outside of Rome. Though somewhat in disrepair, they saw potential to create a world-class equine breeding and show facility. They christened it “Elementa”—so named for the forces of nature that ground everything in life—and got to work.

First came the stables, of course. Maria Cecilia’s team worked to renovate two classic brick-and-tile barns already on the property, quietly tucked against a sheltering hillside. Now, they feature roomy box stalls deeply bedded with straw and open fronts that allow the equine residents to hang their heads into the aisle for affection from passersby; other amenities—spacious tack rooms, breeding labs, wash bays and more—are also incorporated, bringing modern conveniences to nostalgic design. A huge indoor arena with elevated spectator seating, bathrooms and staff apartments stands nearby, along with another covered workout pen. Up the hill are additional barns, indoor and outdoor arenas, a restaurant/lounge and ample paddocks allowing for daily turnout of the farm’s residents.

But Maria Cecilia’s not stopping there—she’s got even bigger plans for Elementa, which include a stadium-style arena with space for 4,000 spectators and international-caliber competitions, a clubhouse and additional restaurant, event spaces, a state-of-the-art veterinary clinic and resort-style bungalows that will feature a pool access, tackrooms and space to keep your own horses nearby during your stay.

“I’d like people to come here and enjoy it as if they were on holiday,” she said. “You can come to Elementa for one month, two months or more: sleep, eat, drink, go out with the horses. I want to offer picnics with alpacas—take out an alpaca and a picnic basket and have a lot of fun. It will be open all year for people, not just those who ride. I want people to enjoy Elementa—that is my vision.”

This is an excerpt from the Spring 2024 issue of Chrome—get Chrome magazine by becoming an APHA member at apha.com/join.