Abruzzo bear

Observing wildlife on the Tratturo

Jul 13, 2015

Frances Fedden, recently back from Walking on the Tratturi, the Historic Shepherds' Trails of Southern Italy

A female bear and 2 cubs! We watched them as the cubs played and tumbled down the hillside opposite us. We found them after a memorable walk to learn about bears in the Abruzzo National Park. This is the second year we have been lucky enough to observe bears just before dusk.

We  were still talking about the bears we had seen, when we set out from Pescasseroli across the flower filled meadows with Neem, our guide's wolfdog (with striking blue eyes),  who always accompanies us joyfully for the first day only of our walk along the shepherds' tracks that lead through Abruzzo and Molise to Puglia. This is indeed walking through history, as these tratturi, have been used since pre-Roman times to move the flocks in autumn down to the green Puglian tablelands and back up to the mountain pastures in early summer. A ritual that took place annually until the 1970s when mechanisation took over.

Cesidio a local guide, was inspired with others to re-open the tratturi and encourage walkers to discover the beautiful and unspoilt countryside that is a botanical treat in early June. The endemic Marsican iris, orchids, hay meadows filled with early summer flowers and scented yellow broom often line our way. Views that roll out before you with villages perched atop the hills. We often saw red deer and wild boar as we walked.