The Abruzzo region, located in the center of Italy, is crossed from North to South by the Apennine Mountains. Here is where we find the highest peaks of the entire Appennine range: Gran Sasso and Maiella.
These high mountains run pretty close to the Eastern sea shore, the Adriatic Coast. In this scenario there is a green river, a highway of grass that was, up until the fifties, a big sheep-track (Tratturo) for the transhumance of flocks descending from the mountains of Abruzzo, through valleys and villages, and archeological ruins, to the plains of Puglia.
The over 150 miles of what is called the “Tratturo Magno” are the sign of the agro-pastoral world that was an important part of the economy of Abbruzzo for centuries up until the Second World War and that, in a much more limited scale, still exists. When the “Tratturo Magno” was in force over three million sheep would be led down to the plains in September and back up to the mountains at the beginning of summer. During the journey of transhumance the shepherds made many stops.
On the “Tratturo Magno” there were, and still are, the so called “Chiese tratturali”, churches built on the track and meant to offer assistance and relief to the shepherds and the flocks. These churches were located along the path with a certain regularity so that they could be reached in time for an overnight stop.
Transhumance was not only moving flocks from summer pastures to winter ones. It was the encounter between different traditions and customs.
Shepherds were bound to laws and unwritten rules respected by all.
It was like a sea voyage, full of surprises. Shepherds would always come back enriched with experiences and knowledge, after crossing rivers and valleys. In an attempt to preserve this tradition a number of local promoters offer the possibility of following the transhumance track. We will provide more information, links and tips as we go! Stay in touch.