Southern Italy: a Walking Tour on the Historic Shepherds Trails (Tratturi)

Since pre-Roman times, there has been a seasonal migration of people and animals in southern Italy, along wide grassy upland trails known as tratturi. Sheep-rearing was for centuries the livelihood of more than half the population of Abruzzo and from the province of L’Aquila, historic tratturi lead south through Molise and onwards into Apulia.

Our walking tour begins in the National Park of Abruzzo, a spectacularly beautiful area of mountains, alpine meadows, beechwoods and grassy valleys where we may spot Chamoix, Golden Eagles and possibly the Apennine Wolf. After 2 days of walks within the park including an expedition to seek the Marsican brown bear, we follow the tratturo south into Molise, staying overnight in comfortable hotels in traditional villages. Glorious, green rolling countryside opens up before us with long views, the song of nightingales and cuckoos accompanies us and our way is strewn with flowering broom and wildflowers including many orchids and an endemic purple iris.

HIGHLIGHTS of our southern Italy walking tour include:  

  • Robust walks on 7 days of the tour (several of 5 - 7 hours) – with long views and inspiring upland scenery
  • An expedition on foot, guided by a National Park ranger, in search of the Marsican brown bear
  • Delicious regional Italian food and wines - lamb with chickpeas and saffron, Pecorino cheeses and pasta with black truffles
  • Exploring traditional Italian hill villages, Roman ruins and a Samnite site from the 6C BC


Guests’ comments on this trip:

‘A very good walking trip in an interesting and unspoilt area. Loved the bears!’

‘What a lovely trip – wonderful views, beautiful flowers, excellent walking.’

'My overall impression of the tour - Kudu had done it yet again! A great walking route through stunning, and stunningly empty, countryside with nice little hotels at the end of the day.'

Abruzzo sheep
Abruzzo iris
Abruzzo Roman site
Abruzzo bear
Abruzzo path
D included

After meeting at Rome Fiumicino airport we have a private road transfer (2.5 hours) to Pescasseroli (1167 m), a large village in the Abruzzo National Park where we stay for 3 nights in a comfortable 4 star hotel. We have time to explore this mountain village, birthplace of the philosopher Benedetto Croce, before dinner - perhaps local lamb with chickpeas and saffron, accompanied by a classic red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and followed by a chocolate cake Parozzo Abruzzese, reputed to have been the poet Gabriele d’Annunzio’s favourite.

B, L, D included

We enjoy the National Park and its beautiful views, flora and fauna with an introductory, morning walk and a picnic. We explore the cobbled lanes of the village and visit the small natural history museum and the fine 12th century church. There is an optional walk up to the ruined castle above the town with extensive views. An informal wine tasting of local wines such as Trebbiano d'Abruzzo and white Pecorino, precedes dinner at a noted local restaurant and maybe try a local liqueur flavoured with orange or ‘a hundred herbs’.

B, L, D included

A morning’s walk takes us through ancient beech forest and up onto a ridge with long views. Accompanied by a guide from the National Park, we undertake an afternoon expedition to an area of the park where the Marsican brown bear is often seen in late spring. We walk in forest and through meadows (3h 30 mins) learning about bears and perhaps watch deer in the evening light from a well-known viewpoint before returning to a late supper in the village.

B, L, D included

We set out across a grassy valley on the route taken by shepherds – and millions of sheep - for millennia. We have the chance to look for deer and chamoix on the rocky slopes above us at our picnic spot and we may find the rare Lady’s Slipper Orchid. The route follows an ancient mossy woodland track before descending towards a lake (6h/15km) and our modest, welcoming hotel (all rooms with private facilities) overlooking a river.

B, L, D included

The lakeside is scattered with flowers (we have found wolf tracks here) and we skirt it with views of a hilltop village ahead (1067 m) where a Samnite necropolis was discovered, dating back to the 6th century BC. There is time for a coffee before we ascend a low limestone ridge (brilliant for flowers) and make our way through oak and hazel woods towards Alfedena (5h/12km). A short road transfer takes us to our delightful, family run hotel in the centre of the small Abruzzo town of Castel di Sangro. We dine in a nearby restaurant which specializes in local dishes, particularly black truffles.

B, L, D included

We cross into Molise, a very unpopulated, wild area and begin our walk at 945 m. There are sweeping views – the snowy peaks of the Apennines can be seen - and the track gently contours up and over the hills where buzzards and kites often soar (7h/17km). In the late afternoon we have a short beautiful drive to our hotel (for 2 nights), set at 650 m in the heart of a mediaeval village, once a Samnite stronghold. The restaurant serves very local dishes, perhaps lentils and sausage and the fiery diavolillo (fiery red chillies called little devils!).

B, L, D included

The landscape changes as we walk south and there is more cultivation, with sainfoin lining the tratturo and the fields rolling away into the far distance – we hope to hear hoopoes calling and perhaps find orchids. There is time for a gelato in a café before arriving at a hilltop village (623 m) with a castle famed for its Pecorino cheese. We return to our hotel by road. (6h/15 km).

B, L, D included

We walk out of our hilltop village, enjoying open scenery, long views and swathes of flowers, and descend gently through fields, passing distant villages perched on summits (5 hrs). When we meet our vehicle we continue by road to the ancient Roman ruins of Saepinum, with its great arches through which shepherds have been leading their flocks for millennia. There is time to explore the site before enjoying a glass of prosecco and toasting our walk. We spend our final night in a beautifully restored Bishop’s residence, set below a village with the Matese Mountain as backdrop.

B included

Following a leisurely breakfast we transfer back to Rome airport for our flights home.

TBA per person sharing
TBA deposit per person
single room supplement

If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable. We shall endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy whenever possible, but some hotels do have single rooms that are small and less well positioned – in this case the supplement is simply ensuring your privacy.

Price includes
  • All accommodation for Days 1 to 9, on a twin shared basis
  • All meals (with wine at dinners and restaurant lunches) as listed in the daily notation
  • Specialist guiding throughout by an ecologist working for the National Park (a registered Italian Mountain Guide), plus Kudu Travel tour leader
  • An informal wine tasting as described
  • All land transportation in a private vehicle as described except during free periods
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees except during free periods
  • Guided excursion in search of the Marsican brown bear 
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff and drivers (tips for Kudu tour leader is optional)
Price does not include
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • International transportation to and from Rome
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol other than wine with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage 
  • Italian departure tax, if any


On Kudu trips you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 3 nights in Pescasseroli, in a comfortable 4 star hotel

  • 1 night in a modest, welcoming hotel (all rooms with private facilities) overlooking a river

  • 1 night in a delightful, family run hotel on the edge of a hilltop village with extensive views from most of the bedrooms and the garden

  • 2 nights in a hotel set at 650 m in the heart of a mediaeval village

  • 1 night in a lovely hotel, a beautifully restored former Bishop’s residence, set below a hill top village with the Matese mountain massif as a backdrop


Visa and Health Requirements
Visitors from the EU, US, Australia, Canada & New Zealand require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to Italy. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of Italy. 

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Italy. Residents of countries in the EU can only claim free (emergency) medical treatment in Italy by presenting their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO.

It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents. If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party 
This trip will run with a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 14 guests.