Old traditions and culture seem to fade continously. It deserves the highest of respect when people passionately keep some of them alive.
One of those old heritages is the Maremma mounted herdsmen ("cowboys") - the Butteri della Maremma in Tuscany's South.
The Butteri proudly present their skills and games in official shows - luckily for us who can get a fascinating insight in the history of tending the Maremmana, which is the local and also historic cattle breed of the region.
The total number of Maremmana is about 9000 today - the low numbers resulting from the intensification of livestock rearing in the past. The Maremmana are still kept in an extensive way, being capable to survive on harsh land in a semi-feral situation - a breed well adapted to the Maremma.
The Butteri celebrate their rich culture. Their name "Buttero" derives from the greek "Botér" meaning "shepherd". Besides the perfect tending of the livestock, using a stick called "mazzarella" while riding on the "Maremmano", the typical and robust horse of the Maremma, they also bring their traditional games to life - showing their riding skills or how to please women.
In 1890 the butteri challenged Buffalo Bill, who was on a Italy "Wild West Show" tour showcasing cowboy skills. In a contest of skills they outperformed Buffalo Bills team by far - a clear win for the Butteri! This victory is celebrated yearly in August with the Buttero-games "Corsa all’Anello" in Cisterna.
It is still a hard job as it was in ancient times, but highly fascinating and a "must-see" when you visit Tuscany. Try at the "Corte degli Ulivi" (see Tuscany link section, direct link to www.cavallomaremmano.com) to find an excellent location and perfect show - and Butteri still showing their full - and deserved - proudness of a long and still alive tradition.
Support the traditions,