Italian land and nature: The Tratturi in Molise
- WTI Magazine #133 Nov 14, 2020
The ancient tratturi (singular tratturo) is one of the main features of the Molisan landscape. The tratturi are the mountain grassy paths that shepherds traditionally used two times a year for transhumance (precisely at the end of the summer and the beginning of the spring) to move their herds from the mountains in Abruzzo to the Tavoliera, or Plain, of the Apulias, and back.
Transhumance is an ancient tradition performed as far back as the pre-Roman period; gradually it became ever more common throughout the centuries.
Tourists can walk the same ancient paths that shepherds once followed with their herds (some stil do), coming to intimate terms with the transhumance lifestyle: sheeps, cows and donkeys transported along the tratturi the furnishings and fittings that shepherds would use upon settling at their temporary destination. Imagining the way this tradition was carried out is a anuthentic way to understand the nature of Molise, an Italian region with a long history that is not yet very well-known abroad.
The route connecting the cities of Pescasseroli (in Abruzzo) and Candela (in Apulia) is an extraordinary tratturo that runs across impressive, charming and wild landscapes for more than 124 miles. The first place visitors will discover whilst traveling the tratturo is the village of Castelpetroso, located amidst the mountains of the Sannio zone. The wonderful and undulating landscape, full of woods and treasures, hides several archaeological areas, artistic and religious, for example the Sanctuary of Saint Mary the Virgin Grieved with Pain. Proceeding across the tratturo, tourists arrive in Cantalupo, a small village that stands on the slopes of Mount Maltese, before reaching Guardiaregia via the Bojano Plain and finally arriving in Sepino, quite well-known for its intriguing Roman ruins.
Numerous Tratturi cross Molise from north to south, east to west, each one offering rich and unique occasions for cultural and historic immersion.