In the Parco Appennino Tosco Emiliano in northern Italy you can forget about your car, or even your bike. Just walk like a shepherd does with his flog of sheep.
In 2018 I followed a shepherds and his flog of over 40 sheep for over 3 days.
Il Paise dil Pastore
During the summer months, shepherd Giancarlo and his flog of sheep travel more than 100 kilometers through the central Apennines. He starts in the village of Tavernelle in the province of Massa and Carrara (the northernmost province of Tuscany) and walks with his sheep to the higher mountains of the province of Parma in Emilio-Romagna.
Giancarlo is one of the last shepherds to make such a long journey (Transhumance) every year in the Parco Nazionale Tosco Emiliano.
Most farmers prefer to keep their livestock on their own land. Increasing traffic levels make it dangerous to move around and higher in the mountains the sheep are likely to get attacked by wolves or wild dogs.
But Giancarlo continues to do the Transhumance every summer.
And local farmers support him, like the farmers and guesthouse owner Barbara and her family of guesthouse Montagna Verde. montagnaverde.it
Barbara came up with the idea to invite their guests to walk with Giancarlo and his sheep.
Since a year ago Giancarlo takes hikers along on a hike of over thirty kilometers in three days together with his flog of sheep.
As an escape from the city I was looking for the tranquility of rural life.
So when I found out about this possibility I joined and followed the sheep starting in Apella, in the Apennine Parc of Tosco Emiliano.
And I can highly recommend to visit Montagna Verde and to go on this hike!
You should not be in a hurry, because the shepherd can easily stop somewhere and talk to a farmer for half an hour.
But other moments the sheep just run high speed and it can be hard to keep them insight.
For Giancarlo this has been his daily life for ages. "I do not know any better, sonno nato cosi I am born this way. My grandparents and parents have been doing this work all of their lives as well."
Next the shepherd a walking guide Filippo joined who speaks perfect English. Filippo also happens to be biologist explained everything about the vegetation, trees, and wild mushrooms.
It is teeming with birds and butterflies.
“Now that our sheep are moving around again, their droppings and also seeds from their fur are spreading across the meadows. The landscape flourishes from that,” says Filippo.
We slept in a tent and helped the shepherd to milk the sheep at the end of the tour.
This kind of responsible tourism (like walking with a shepherd) has several positive effects on rural areas
1: create jobs in the mountain that are being depopulated;
2: It will demonstrate that a micro-economy model is not only possible but also sustainable.
Projects like these bring people closer to an archaic world. They do not only offer moments of well-being, but also a model of circular economy based on agro-ecology, able to counteract even climate change!
This article appeared in AD newspapers like: de Gelderlander gelderlander.nl/reizen/houd-je-van-wandelen-trek-eens-met-een-kudde-schapen-door-de-toscaanse-bergen~a2ecb38f