Abruzzo Sheep farming

Sheep – Photo © calascio123.wordpress.com

The mountains and valleys of Abruzzo, its vast and barren plateaus, and the stony slopes of its massifs have made it, since the very earliest times, an ideal environment for shepherds and their flocks.

Already, during the Bronze Age, between the 16th and l2th centuries B.G., 5heep~farming was common among the peoples who had settled in the Abruzzo area. There was a specific regression at the beginning of the first millennium B.C. with the rise of Picenian agriculture (at which time the extraordinary Guerriero di Capestrano – Warrior of Capestrano – was produced). It led to the Apennine shepherd settlements being restricted to the more mountainous areas further inland. From the 7th century B.C. onwards, under the influence of the Sabellian people, sheep-farming was given a new impetus.

The Sabellian races, divided into numerous different genti (peoples), generally called Italic, sheep-farmed in territories limited to the areas in which they settled, only moving between the mountains above and the plains directly below. Under the Roman influence, the land had been divided up, and the conflicts put down between the Sabellian tribes and the Daunians (farmers of the lowlands of Puglia), Abruzzo sheep-farming was able to extend towards the plains of Puglia. The latter was ideal for an entrepreneurial type of 5heep~farming, and this was backed by large amounts of capital from noble families in Rome.

It was, however, in the first half of the 15th-century that sheep-farming in Abruzzo developed most. It is estimated that, in that period, about 30,000 shepherds took no fewer than 3,000,000 head of sheep to winter in Puglia.

As there were about 300,000 people in Abruzzo at that time, that was an average of about ten sheep per inhabitant. If pastoral activity in the literal sense is then added to those industries, which were a direct consequence of it, one can quite easily affirm that at least half the population of Abruzzo was directly dependent on sheep-farming.

Today in Abruzzo there are no more than 450,000 sheep; one for every three inhabitants.

The extraordinary development of sheep-farming in Abruzzo was determined by exploiting to the full the benefits of the mountainous pastures in Abruzzo -impracticable in winter but flourishing in summer – and the grassy plains of the lowlands of Puglia.

Majella – Photo © freeforumzone.leonardo.it

Instrumental in using this to the full was transumanza (transhumance), a seasonal movement of men and flocks between these two geographical areas of pasture, covering hundreds of kilometers on foot at the end of Spring and beginning of Autumn. The route of those moving to other fields followed a regular network of full grassy paths: the tratturi (sheep-tracks). These winded down from the furthest parts inland of Abruzzo, more specifically the valley of L’Aquila, from Celano in Marsica and from Pescasseroli at the top of the Sangro valley to the lowlands of Puglia around Foggia and Candela.

The “tratturi” followed routes used for centuries, but it was during Roman times, when sheep-farming took on this transhumant characteristic, that exceptional development began. Even then, the paths followed during the transhumance were defined and protected by laws that became, even more, stricter during the Aragonese domination.

Sheep – Photo © www.insidersitaly.com

Along the way, there were many stops for the shepherds, for their well-being and that of their animals during transhumance. Different forms of providing food and rest were found over the centuries. The chiese tratturali (churches) were characteristic and ubiquitous “structures for service.” They could offer not only spiritual assistance and comfort but water for the men and flocks, a safe resting-place for the animals, and a roof for the shepherds for the night. They were located at regular intervals along the route, allowing enough time between one right-stop and the next.

Once the mountain pastures had been reached, a relatively less precarious stopping-place for the men and animals took the form of the pajare, little groups of loose stone huts that were built by the shepherds themselves.

Borrowed directly from the trullo in Puglia, the pajare began Spreading in Abruzzo no more than 300 years or so ago and were a consequence of the very dose contacts that the pastoral way of life had with the Puglia area. It means that, after Puglia, Abruzzo is the region with the highest number of “Trulli.”

The pajare (especially present on the Majella where there are about a thousand) is often found in small dose groups circled pens, which are also built of loose stones. The high walls give these extraordinary buildings an ancient and archaic fort-like appearance. Similar structures can be found on the Gran Sasso. Here they date back to the Middle Ages and are called “condole,” probably deriving from the techniques used in Benedictine-Cistercian buildings.

A few items from Abruzzo

La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

Grazing In Abruzzo
Bruce Franchini (Director), Lidia Bastianich (Actor)
Lidia loves the region of Abruzzo! She describes the people there as welcoming, giving and jovial, and the hearty food of the region has left her with such fond memories. In the Abruzzese kitchens, Farro, a kind of wheat berry, is cooked as a whole grain and is manufactured in many shapes-both by small artisanal pasta makers and larger pasta companies. She makes this pasta with arugula and ricotta. Following her main course of Lamb with Olives, she creates the deliciously fun Scrippelle-which look like fettuccine-and tosses them in a hot caramel, citrus and apricot sauce for dessert.

Abruzzo. History and art guide
by Latini M. L. (Author)
Although it is a bit too synthetic, to the detriment of the overall readability of the text, the work provides an exhaustive description of the artistic heritage of Abruzzo, inserting points for observation not always recognized. Recommended.

Abruzzo 1st Edition
by Michael Kenna
Abruzzo, located in southern Italy, is known as the green region of Europe because of the system of parks and nature reserves covering more than one-third of its territory. In Abruzzo, Michael Kenna found a cultural identity that elsewhere, for the most part, has been lost to globalization and instant communication. Kenna photographed medieval ruins, ancient villages and a countryside rich in traditional cultivation. As curator Vincenzo de Pompeis writes in the book s introduction, 'Abruzzo's heritage, together with its impressive natural scenery, brings to mind romantic connotations that have historically attracted many international landscape artists, particularly in the 19th century. Michael Kenna fits perfectly into this rich historical vein of celebrated landscape artists who have worked in Abruzzo. Kenna's work often evokes the influences of Romanticism. In his photographs of historic rural landscapes, for example, there is an air of melancholy, which accompanies memories from the past. His images of ruins stir up feelings of passing time, of the constantly evolving ties between history and nature.' This gorgeous new monograph by renowned landscape photographer Michael Kenna is published to coincide with a major museum exhibition in Loreto Aprutino, Italy. Richly printed in duotone on matt art paper, and presented in an olive-green cloth slipcase with black debossed text on one side and a tipped-in image on the other, Abruzzo presents 65 images from the series, published here for the first time.

Michelin Map Italy: Abruzzo, Molise 361 (Maps/Local (Michelin))
Michelin created its first travel guide over 100 years ago to promote road travel and inspire driving confidence. Today, Michelin Travel & Lifestyle offers travelers an extensive range of travel guides, maps and online travel resources. These products deliver the same Michelin promise of quality and consistency consumers expect from one of the world's most trusted brands.
Publisher of travel guides, maps and atlases, Michelin Travel & Lifestyle offers a complete travel portfolio. Where to go, how to get there, where to eat & stay, and what to see & do ... all in one collection with extensive international & domestic coverage, especially for Europe. Our series includes Michelin (Red) Guides, Green Guides, Must Sees and Michelin maps and atlases.

Canti Della Terra D'Abruzzo
Ettore Montanaro
Buy MP3: all 51 at the same time, or each one individually.

Italian Folk Songs from Abruzzo 1927-1930
CD and MP3 reissue of the freat italian folk duo. Comes with rich notes and photos of the couple as well. Pasquale and Clara Sciascia immigrated to the U. S. from the Abruzzo region of Italy, settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1927 to 1933 they recorded 44 songs fro the Victor, Columbia and Brunswick record companies. The Sciascias were the first to record a number of Italian and Abruzzese folk songs, 14 of which are reissued here for the first time in 90 years. The songs feature wonderful duet singing and exquisite string band accompaniment. Also included are notes on the couple and their music, photos, and the transcribed and translated lyrics. Includes 20 page booklet.