The millennia-old tradition of the "Tratturi”
Characteristic of the beautiful region of Molise is the so-called "tratturi," which are the ancient drift paths along which the grazing areas of the cattle were seasonally changed in pre-Roman times.
Tratturi: Exploring the ancient transhumance routes of Molise
Transhumance, or transhumance, followed strictly predetermined paths from the cool mountain pastures of Abruzzo to the warmer areas of the “tavoliere” in Apulia.
The Samnites already practised itinerant shepherding in the 6th century BC and this practice reached its peak in Roman times. This was because they also served to better connect the towns of the Empire and were developed during this period. Some drift paths are called “green giants” and are still perfectly preserved today. This is thanks to the Aragonese, who resumed the tradition in the 15th century to expand trade in agricultural products.
As part of the modernisation of the drift paths, they were redesigned, and smaller paths, the so-called “tratturelli” were built, and connected to the main paths with small connecting paths. Stone side borders and customs posts for trade affairs were also built. It is believed that a total of 70 municipalities in Molise, including Campobasso, Boiano and Isernia, were established along these cattle trails. In 2006, the Regional Park of the “Tratturi” was nominated as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.The millennia-old “Tratturi” are found throughout the region and offer unique hiking routes.
One of the most beautiful tratturi connects the Gargano National Park with the Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park. The “Tratturo Celano-Foggia” crosses the National Park della Majella and the archaeological areas of Vastogirardi and Pietrabbondante. Along the way from Castel di Sangro to Lucera in Puglia, you can visit the impressive Di Sangro Castle.
The “Tratturo” from Pescasseroli to Cendela covers a distance of 200 km and crosses Castelpetroso in Molise with enchanting mountain landscapes and the magnificent “Sanctuary Vergine Santissima Addolorata.” After Cantalupo in historic Samnium, Bojano and Guardaregia, you reach Sepino, which is famous for its archaeological site with many Roman ruins.
One of the most famous “Tratturo” from Aragonese times is the route from L’Aquila in Abruzzo to Foggia in Puglia. Also known as the “Tratturo del Re” (“King’s Drift Path”), this one in Molise crosses many beautiful towns, such as Termoli on the Adriatic Sea. Here it is worth visiting the beautiful old town and the “Castello Rocca Federiciana.