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From the Maremmano to Abruzzo

 
 
The Maremma is a vast geografical region included in Tuscany and Lazio that faces on the Tirreno sea.
Mistakingly only the main part of the Maremma is considered due to the higher reputation.
The name comes from , for some scholars, from the Latin maritima, for others from the castalia marismas which means “swamp”( not surprisingly , near Castiglione of Pescaia , is situated an important wetland nature reserve called Diaccia Botrona).
Dante identified the boundaries between Cecina ( Livorno) and Tarquinia (Viterbo) already known as Corneto:

« They have not so harsh not so dense undergrowth. Those savage wild beasts that in hatred hold between Cecina and cornetto the filled places »

(Dante, Inferno, Canto XIII, vv. 7-9)


The professional more challenging task and at the same time rich and most sincere satisfaction was the one of the veterinarian of the numerous Maremmani dogs of the Corsini Princes, who allowed me to establish a relationship of friendship with Don Tommaso a salso with Donna Anna ( President of the pma cousi). But not only: the moving between the seals of their castles in Umbria up to the immense estates of the villas of Tuscany allowed me to comprehend what I up to this day consider the most peculiar and fascinating land of Italy. “la Maremma”. I also met the inhabitants of the then malarial Prairie: “ the cowboys” to whom Tolomeo Faccendi and Prince Francescp Ruspoli, both sculptors, dedicated a monument: the first in front of the building of the Grosseto railway station; the second at Campo di Mare, on the roman coast, not far from Ladispoli. To provide a visual decription of those wild grasslands, you need to search in the paintings painted by the painter from Livorno Giovanni Fattori for the Marsiliana d’Albegna, where he was often a guest of Prince Tommaso Corsini, picking up the landscape, the environment and the rituals associated with the breeding of wild cattle- to perform a series of masterpieces that bring to light the true maremma): there, in that kind of homegrown Far West, boundless sea of grassland between the bushes and coast, no trees, nor huts, fences to delimit the bumpy, dusty Maremma” road, hundreds of cattle to graze or neigh and roar, great bulls black as the night guataring with fear of human sheepdogs, white and restless watching the fleece, kestrels in rotear in the sky. Crying out , to then throw itself headlong on its prey. And he, cowboy, dressed with coarse aged fustian worn out from wear, the legs of goatskin- to defend oneself from early morning brine, from the marruca shrub and from the “stracciabrache” of the vegetation stain—the bristled face of unshaven hairs, cooked and aged prematurely due to heatwaves: he,planted on top of his unruly horse, prancing around herds in that external exile of the urbanised society. Go and see, in any monographic dedicated to the founder of Macchiaioli – the painting of Maremma herds, in its solar atmosphere so wild and rough, slightly sweetened by a blue brushstroke of the sea; or maybe the one entitled “Butteri e Mandrie in Maremma” where the mighty and unbridled dynamism of horses , men, and oxen, under a sky that darkens for the upècoming storm, or – again - one of which is depicted Marking of bulls ( La marcatura dei torelli) , who lives and grows of a warm and intensive collective animation around the reluctant animals. Go and see these superb paintings that have imprisoned an era , a rural costume, an existential dimension, a social affair to some extent mythical, fabulous:the Maremma of the herdsmenand shepherds of the estate and its proletarian population condemmed to live among scrub and grassland, in an existential dimension of daily discomfort.One is tempted tomiss the maremmani villages of our childhodd, when one did not even hear the radio crackle, in those vllages , Christmas was not a pagan festival as it is today,during which the only things talked about are presents to give and receive, panettone (traditional Italian cake) and sparkling wine, of huge luncheons and dinners eaten at the restaurant, after having left in bunches the houses. The most important religious holiday of the year was spent with the family after having participated to the novenas, and during the days preceding the anniversary of the nativity the Bagpipers would come round( playing bagpipes or “cornamusa” or “pifferanzana” as were called their traditional instruments) and the song that spread made of high and rough notes , scratched the silence of the village , allowing to imagine scenes of cribs. And then in the spring large flocks of grazing sheep would leave for the Appenine moiuntains where the head person is always followed inevitably by the Maremmano Abbruzzese sheepdog.
Of what describe in great detail our friend Tommaso Corsini in the I nostril Cani magazine:
”Up to 40-50 years ago, large flocks of grazing sheep called “vergherie” grazed during the winterson the land surrounding Tuscany and Lazio coast (marshes) and would move, after shearing, the Appenine mountain pastures. These summer pasture departed from the Pistoia mountains heading south east for at least 300 kilometres. The vergherie , made up of or derived from Merino sheep (vissane or sopravissane) were all accompanied and guarded by white dogs with black pigmentation. Owners of the flocks and also therefore the dogs were, for the most part, great estates of the Maremma and of Lazio, usually rented but sometimes owned, even the pasture of mountains that were often hundreds of kilometres away from the bases of the Tosco-laziale Maremma. But there were also shepherd owners of large vergherie that, down in October, natives of the high valleys of Tuscany , Umbria, Marche and Abruzzo, on the pastures of Lazio and Tuscany- Lazio Maremma, having purchased winter herbs.The same type of dog was also involved in these herds of sheep. As a result, if one wants to be picky, one should call dog assigned to the merine sheep the Tyrrhenian coast of central Italy”. You can then add that very often the Vergherie transhumant of both May and of October that yielded puppies along the journey and then a good number of sheepdogs would adorn and defend the appliances and villas and farmhouses in Tuscany and Umbria.”