Up and down along the tratturos

D'Annunzio's words summarize with great elegance the essence of transhumance.

Transhumance was a long journey that shepherds of Abruzzo undertook, as winter was approaching, to bring their flocks in the less harsh climate of Puglia. The return to the mountain pastures of Abruzzo was scheduled for six months later, with the arrival of spring.

Such travel took place along the tratturos (the erbal silent river mentioned by D'annunzio), ancient green sheep-tracks that joined Abruzzo with Puglia through an intricate mesh of connections whose origins are lost in the mists of time.

In the poet's words one can read the nostalgia of shepherds who had to abandon for six months their land, and often their families, in order to procure them the necessary sustenance.

The flocks no longer traverse the tratturos and perhaps it is a good thing: for those of us who have not experienced transhumance firsthand, the charm of that slow wandering, hundreds of kilometers long, remains; for the shepherds of that time, transhumance was a necessity that forced them to face a very hard life.

What is left today of that historical tradition? Little or nothing but a faint trace left by the trattural routes that the Italian state, with incredible foresight, decided to protect with special laws. For sure, they are no longer the 111-meter-wide tratturos of yesteryear and maintenance is nonexistent, but the route, for the most part, still exists.

This site is dedicated to all the shepherds who have been crossing the tratturos for hundreds of years and tells of a series of walks I took to try to reconstruct the ancient routes and to check their state of preservation. The pages you will find tell simple travel stories written with a semi-serious tone, but they are also meant to provide some useful suggestions for those who would like to try to follow the tratturos.

A separate page of the site provides the GPS tracks accumulated in my journeys. Such tracks may be essential for modern wanderers, as routes are only rarely marked in situ.

I hope I have aroused your curiosity.

Enjoy your reading and... happy walking!

I Pastori

Settembre, andiamo. È tempo di migrare.
Ora in terra d’Abruzzi i miei pastori
lascian gli stazzi e vanno verso il mare:
scendono all’Adriatico selvaggio
che verde è come i pascoli dei monti.

Han bevuto profondamente ai fonti
alpestri, che sapor d’acqua natia
rimanga né cuori esuli a conforto,
che lungo illuda la lor sete in via.
Rinnovato hanno verga d’avellano.

E vanno pel tratturo antico al piano,
quasi per un erbal fiume silente,
su le vestigia degli antichi padri.
O voce di colui che primamente
conosce il tremolar della marina!

Ora lungh’esso il litoral cammina
La greggia. Senza mutamento è l’aria.
Il sole imbionda sì la viva lana
che quasi dalla sabbia non divaria.
Isciacquio, calpestio, dolci romori.

Ah perché non son io cò miei pastori?

G. D'Annunzio