“Once you walk in a tratturo, you don’t know how to walk anywhere else”.
Horseback riding tourism, equestrian tourism, trekking on horseback or equitrekking: anyway you call it, it is truly an immersive, alternative activity within the high quality and innovative experiential tourism arena. It is practiced in company with our travel companions, the horses, with whom a close relationship is forged, giving the holiday a true meaningful value. The scenarios of this adventure are absolutely country style. The roads that guests will use for travelling in the saddle are one of the most precious treasures of our region: the traturri – the antique herding trails in many regions of Italy. These are wide dirt paths with an inestimable historic and natural value; they were the ‘motorways’ of ancient times, those roads that were once used by travellers for large commercial transportations or by shepherds in the mythical transumanza – the transhumance, the seasonal movement of livestock across lowland pastures and mountains.
The ‘royal’ tratturi, meaning those roads that were very well-known and recognized at the state level, are five and these are largely articulated in Italy’s south-central region, connecting many villages and towns: L’Aquila-Foggia (244 km), Pescasseroli-Candela (221 km), Celano-Foggia (208 km), Centurelle-Montesecco (155 km), and Castel di Sangro-Lucera (130 km). The horseback adventure to be enjoyed by the hosts of I Viaggi dell’Origano will be along the Celano-Foggia tratturo and will have a duration of four days. The tratturi roads, the backstage of I Viaggi del Origano’s horseback holiday, offer within a rather small area a multitude of peculiar natural scenarios and characteristics. This is the reason why Molise is so unique: it is a minute, ultra-diverse territory going from the sea to the mountains within a range of a few kilometres, passing across hills, artificial or natural lakes, and hidden streams feeding wide water courses such as the Biferno river. Indeed, during our horseback riding strolls, the camera roll is deluged with unexpected and varying photographs: areas filled with shrubs and trees become expanses of cereal and olive grove fields; pastures with yellow broom trees and rosehip bushes make way to huge and imponent rock formations; lush forests where truffles grow abundantly are transformed into real portraits of the high Apennine mountains.
Bonefro (CB), Italy . Transfer from Rome, Napoli, Campobasso on request
In the early afternoon
The first rendez-vous is in Valle del Fortore where guests can choose to stay in a room or a camping tent. This is the moment where everybody meets for the first time and comes in contact with the surrounding environment as well as gets acquainted with the lifestyle of the upcoming days, within a friendly and liveable atmosphere. This is the moment to meet our inseparable travel partners, the horses, assigned to each traveller according to their own personal needs and also based on the advice of the stable’s crew. At the time of dinner, legs inevitably end up under the table, a place where inexplicably meeting and talking to people, as well as weaving networks, is always easier. A good meal between old and new faces, with an excellent wine to accompany food and friends, offer a healthy, fun and relaxed time before everybody heads to bed to charge our batteries for the marvellous trip that awaits.
After a breakfast proper of a Molisan grandma – that kind of meal where you cannot get up from the table unless you have not tasted all the delicacies she has prepared – the horses are readied and we part in the saddle towards San Giuliano di Puglia, passing by the little church of Sant’Elena, a common stop for travellers in the tratturo of past times. After a nice packed lunch possibly in the open-air, we then continue along the hills bordering Biferno towards Castelbottaccio, a characteristic medieval village where the farmhouse is found. After 35 km of horseback riding, the most awaited events of the journey take place: a cosy dinner in company with friends to refresh ourselves, followed by a calm overnight stay.
After another sumptuous breakfast, our spirited horses and their riders hop on the saddle again to satiate their curiosity and need for adventure by heading into Colle Marasca, near Trivento, where I Viaggi dell’Origano team will serve a succulent packed lunched with high quality traditional products of Molise. Thereafter, we hop on another four-legged ride in hopes of reaching yet a new destination between breath-taking landscapes and hinterland scents. We arrive at the holiday farmhouse of Casino del Duca, in the countryside of Civitanova del Sannio, where dinner and a comfortable overnight stay will take place – a much deserved reward for our explorers after adding on their backs another 35 kilometres of travelled roads.
Since the start of this day, the feeling of nostalgia can already be sensed; nevertheless, the joy of sharing the last journey together is still much present. After our last rich and invigorating breakfast, our final destination is Carovilli, a village located in the beautiful highlands of Molise and known for producing exquisite dairy products. We are in the region of the MAB Reserve of Collemeluccio Montedimezzo, a UNESCO heritage site. After a horseback ride of 18 km, we eat our last lunch – a delicious and comforting meal where we will yearn to keep remaining together and our hearts will be filled with a memory made of pure and genuine feelings, uncontaminated places and spontaneous smiles.