Tratturo, canada, draiville, drumurile oierilos, are names of farming streets in European countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Romania. Man organized them when he discovered transmigrant pastoralism or transhumance, so called because it is based on the periodic transmigration of livestock beyond the land of ordinary residence, for the period of inhospitality of the same. Thus, when the snow covered the mountain grass, flocks and herds moved to the plains, where pastures were available, favored by the mild winter climate, to then return to the land of origin and customary when the snow had disappeared and there he grass of the mountains, exquisite and sought after for irreplaceable qualities, was once again free, green and luxuriant. Twice a year, in autumn and spring, for centuries!
The explanation of the phenomenon, moreover, is in the Latin derivation of the term transhumance: trans = beyond and humus = earth, beyond the earth (usual).
But the connection of the two distant pastures was not the only problem to be solved, even if of vital importance. Transhumance meant equipping the two sites with minimum services and ensuring their operation in safe conditions. The same streets then had to respond to the double function of transit and feeding the cattle, a distinctive element that made them resemble grass carpets unrolled between mountains and plains. Furthermore, the phenomenon posed complex problems linked to the organization of both the production and the marketing of products, and which concerned the availability on one side of sufficient pastures and on the other, of fairs, means of transport, handicraft tools connected to a very articulated pastoral activity interacting with other sectors. A tangle of nodes, therefore, to be synchronized in time and manner, as befits a development project governed by the laws of the economy.
The bet was successful and nomadic pastoralism, open to dangers of all kinds, was replaced by that centered on two areas, one of which destined to become the headquarters of the company, with all that this entails in adapting the families involved in the activity. , direct and indirect.
Transhumance thus became the “response” of the pastoral economy to particular geographical and climatic conditions and was the discovery of fire for populations of several continents, from the Americas to Australia, Central Asia, Mediterranean Europe. And precisely in the Mediterranean this model involved the wide arc of territories located between the Pyrenees-Alps-Carpathian mountain barrier and the sea, with peaks in Morocco and in the Turks, thus identifying the great Mediterranean transhumance area.
The sheep tracks are therefore present in the current collective imagination as transhumance roads, functional to pastoralism with the market objective based on the bi-seasonal transfer of livestock between two distant pastures that can be used at different times of the year. But the sheep tracks were not just the ways of the flocks or of the wool, as they say.
Before the sheep tracks, in fact, the sweating cattle used the normal roads; in Molise it is with the Samnites, at the foot of the Matese in Molise, on the Sabina-Apulia road frequented by transhumance, that an organized place for rest and trade arises. A sort of service station of antiquity with manufacturing activities as well, such as the industrial dyeing plant destroyed by fire in the 2nd century BC. C.! With ancient Rome, transhumant herding took on almost industrial forms and was disciplined with supporting rules and policies, the great Varro, in reporting the seasonal movements of animals between the regions of central Italy and the Apulian plains, wrote that those lands they were joined by “public paths (calles publicae) that join distant pastures, like the small arch joins the two baskets of the soma”.
The Romans, in the 1st century BC. C., on the remains of the Samnite rest center they built the city of Saepinum with its forum, basilica (multifunctional), thermal baths, theater, macellum (minimarket), fountains, factories (tannery), fountains. A small Rome inside high walls and towers covered with limestone cubes, with 4 monumental entrance gates on the transhumance routes where the cattle “conductores” paid the tax (vectigal) on passing livestock: an operation that in the 2nd century AD C. gave rise to phenomena of corruption that some modern scholars call the “tangentopoli of antiquity”.
On the Roman ruins the rural village, still inhabited, was born again from the year 1000 onwards.
With the fall of the Roman Empire and with the peninsula in the grip of barbarian fury, transhumance entered a phase of darkening, which soon became a transition, because it returned after the year 1000 and with political support from the Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese.
Indeed, with the Aragonese there was the great modern revival with a large market-sized district from Abruzzo to the Gulf of Taranto, quality of the wool, assured grazing in the Tavoliere di Puglia upon payment of the tax (fida), enhanced infrastructures, (the we will see in the tratturi), complete production-marketing cycle, credenza industry (i.e. payment of the tax after the sale of the product, with the creditor State), supraregional administration (district) through administrative, economic and judicial institution in Foggia (Customs mena delle pecore di Puglia) and with public market rules at the service of the private sector system. A well-set model, to raise the participation to millions of sheep and with a duration of over 350 years: 1447-1806, when Giuseppe Napoleone gave the Tavoliere to private individuals, breaking the mountain-plain mutuality, leaving the mountain abandoned to itself like a lame duck, which will not be heard even in the unitary government and will end up as a victim of emigration from exodus from the second half of the nineteenth century. Pasquale Stanislao Mancini in vain will invite Minister Sella to rethink the decision to transform the redemption into a state credit, because the state needed to raise cash. It often happens in history.