Italy Beyond the Beltway – Trails of Transhumance

There are many ways to see and savor Italy. To experience the noble vineyards, pilgrim paths, iconic art and architecture and like the proverbial onion or tip of the iceberg you need to dig deeper and peel away the layers of “show and tell” travel to discover Italy beyond the beltway.

Travelers can follow itineraries along the Roads of Wines and Taste (le strade dei vini e dei sapori) in and around Italy to immerse themselves in the traditions, territories and tastes of a particular region. A behind the scenes, back road tour of the gastro-history of Italy to visit artisan producers and generational families committed to preserving the culinary culture shaped by the region in its geography and traditions. I have followed many of these routes over the years and highly recommend them.

One of the best ways to see and savor regional Italy is in the provence of Siena. Siena’s Duomo, Il Campo and Lorenzetti’s allegorical frescoes in the Palazzo Publico (Town Hall) have made Siena of the most popular places to visit when traveling in Tuscany. But if you’re looking to travel beyond the obligatory wine and dine sites of Siena there are a series of local itineraries that are worth “getting off the bus” or better yet taking the time to explore on a road trip through the region.

transumanzaOne little known itinerary  consists of eight destinations that cross the lands of Siena into the “traces of transhumance”, a fascinating course of travel designed to express the value and worth of the paths once crossed by shepherds during the seasonal movement of their livestock. This time-honored tradition of mobile pastoralism gives you a true sense of the connection between the land and the artisan’s hand.  Along the rural paths there are often rest areas, shelters, chapels, taverns and inns, hiking trails and scheduled festivals that create a historical itinerary of the food and cultural traditions of the region.

There are other trails of transhumance to discover throughouttranshumance sheep Italy including the Royal Shepherd’s Track, in Molise (considered for  inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and in Abruzzo, Puglia, Campania and Basilicata.


Traveler Destination Scorecard

A panel of travel experts from the National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations recently measured the worlds’ most iconic and celebrated travel destinations on how well they have weathered the pressures of mass tourism. 437 well-traveled experts rated 133 world travel sites on their ability to retain a sense of place, remaining relatively unspoiled in the face of mounting threats to their environment and culture. Tuscany, Italy was rated as a Place Doing Well stating that “If there is a region in Europe that exemplifies the exact mixture of natural and cultural heritage with harmony and beauty, it is Tuscany. No place else has this harmonious mix between landscape, monuments, and cities”.

At ItalyTasteandTravel we believe in there is a different way to travel in Italy, a way that is more than a “show and tell” tour, savoring rather than sampling all that Italy has to offer, traveling with a sense of place with like-minded travelers to see the Italy of our family and friends. We’re happy to know that one of our favorite regions to see and savor Italy is doing well.  With more than 900 million worldwide travelers we are globally challenged to preserve and protect the culture, heritage and geographic character of sites we visit. To do less would be irresponsible.  To do more would be a way to show your appreciation for a chance to see the wonders of the world.