Italy

The Transhumance

An ancient ritual that keeps generations together

The transumanza is an archaic and rural ritual that continues to keep generations together and tells the story of the intimate relationship between human beings and the land to which they belong. A seasonal migration of flocks, herds, and shepherds, it begins up in the mountains right before summer and then moves onto the plains as the first frosts are on their way.

For five generations the Colantuono family, originally from Frosolone, a village in the province of Isernia in the region of Molise, has completed this ritual, leading its herd of around 300 cows over 180 kilometres from their winter pasture in Puglia to the mountains of Molise. During the four-day journey the cowherds, on horseback and on foot, guide the animals along ancient tratturi, communication roads which have been used since Roman times to move sheep and animals. Along the way, people wait for them to pass with a festive air, almost celebrating the confirmation of a tradition the modern world has been unable to eradicate. Indeed, today Italy has submitted its bid to have both the transumanza and the tratturi added to Unesco’s list of cultural heritage.

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