The Transumanza in Abruzzo & Molise

09 September 2010 Published in Abruzzo Itineraries
Tratturo along the Majella Tratturo along the Majella © Copyright Delicious Italy

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ransumanza. I segni del tempo

The word 'transumanza' means 'crossing the land' and derives from 'transmundus' or 'crossing earth'. In effect, that's exactly what it is, the passage or migrations of the sheep twice a year from the high ground in the hills to winter pastures nearer the coast and vice versa. It was a way of life which originated as soon as men domesticated animals in Italy and is certainly pre-Roman. It celebrated its greatest period in Abruzzo during the 18th century when millions of sheep were led towards the Tavoliere Plain in Puglia.

Today, alas, the 'transumanza' has virtually disappeared but visitors to Italy should head to the Abruzzo National Park or the Val Bremba in the Bergamo hills to experience it as it used to be. It's a terrific sight watching the animals cross the hills and pass through the towns. Different rhythms, different times.

To get a flavour of the 'transumanza' and the simple life of good local wine and pecorino cheese why not consider the special itineraries proposed by the Regione Abruzzo. They have been brought together in a superb little volume called 'Along the Shepherd' Tracks' to preserve the memory of the sheep migration traditions of the region for future generations and to promote new tourism initiatives.

Sheep grazing along the tratturi 

The Tratturi

There are five tratturo in all and the towns along the way are all worth discovering, especially in the context of this most ancient of activities

1. THE L'AQUILA - FOGGIA TRATTURO

L'Aquila - Onna - Bazzano - Filetto - Poggio di Roio - Arischia - Assergi - Poggio Picenze - Isola di Gran Sasso - S.Stefano di Sessanio - Calascio - Castel del Monte - Castelvecchio Calvisio - Carapelle Calvisio - Prata d'Ansidonia - S.Pio Camere - Capestrano - Ofena - Alanno - Nocciano - Rosciano - Bucchianico - Arielli - Lanciano - Paglieta - Casalbordino - Pollutri - Scerni - Montedorisio - Vasto.

2. THE CENTURELLE - MONTESECCO TRATTURO

Caporciano - Navelli - Civitaretenga - Collepietro - S.Benedetto in Perillis - Bussi sul Tirino - Popoli - Castiglione a Casauria - Tocco da Casauria - S.Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore - Lettomanoppello - Serramonacesca - Roccamorice - Caramanico Terme - Palombaro - Pennapiedimonte - Pretoro - Guardiagrele - Orsogna - Fara S.Martino - Lama dei Peligni - Taranta Peligna - Tornareccio.

3. THE CELANO - FOGGIA TRATTURO

Celano - Ovindoli - Aielli - Pescina - Castelvecchio Subequo - Castel di Ieri - Goriano Sicoli - Raiano - Roccacasale - Pratola Peligna - Cocullo - Sulmona - Introdacqua - Pacentro - Pettorano sul Gizio - Campo di Giove - Rocca Pia - Scanno - Rivisondoli - Pescocostanzo - Roccaraso - Castel di Sangro - Palena.

4. THE PESCASSEROLI - CANDELA TRATTURO

Pescasseroli - Opi - Villetta Barrea - Civitella Alfedena - Barrea - Alfedena - Scontrone.

5. THE ATELETA - BIFERNO TRATTURO

Castiglione Messer Marino - Celenza sul Trigno - Montenerodomo.