March 5, 2015

The buttero are cattlemen in the Maremma region of southern Tuscany, a low lying damp area along the coast and similar to the Camargue in southern France. They wear course cotton trousers, velvet jackets, a cape to keep them dry called a ‘pastrano’, ┬áblack hat and use a stick called a mazzarella to control the cattle. They are a romantic view of a past life in Italy, one that is now rapidly changing as Italy modernises since the war and transport links divide all areas of the country. However, it is wonderful seeing this area and traditions remaining within the National Park.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the drainage between Rome and Livorno became choked, turning the Maremma into an inhospitable marshland with stagnant pools, plagued by malarial mosquitos. Re-draining began in the late C18th and with the help of insecticides the area became free of malaria in the 1950’s. The butteri have been part of the landscape for over 250 years. During the war they moved further north from Rome to the Maremma, an untamed wilderness of mountainous forests and marshland.

They are skilled horse riders and work for semi-feudal landlords, breaking in wild horses and driving wild longhorn cattle.

Today there are only six large herds in the unspoilt national park but they still participate in local rodeos.

Maremma sheepdog watches over large flocks of sheep & cattle, protecting the livestock from wolves

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