Transhumance means migrating sheep breeding. The word is composed from “trans” (coming from) and humus (soil), like saying herds that migrate “from their usual grazing place”. It isn’t a wandering graze, of no fixed abode, or either one that is sedentary, with many resting places. Transhumance in fact, is based on four important foundations: the exchange between two distinguished bases in determined periods of the year; the property of the herd; the natural utilization of the herd; and orientation towards market economy.
The term, transhumance, was present in the early romantic languages and became a scientific term only at the end of the last century, but its history is millenary. Transhumance developed for centuries along the direct roads or tracts, called “Tratturi” that connected the Abruzzian Apennine mountain range with the Apulian tableland prairie. The origin of these tracts is very ancient, not only where they located near establishments dating back to the Bronze Age, but they also coincided with some tracts of Ancient Roman roads.
The tract “Celano-Foggia”, for example, corresponded with the ancient roman road, Via Valeria, and the tract “L’Aquila-Foggia” corresponded with Via Claudia Nova. In the proximity of the tracts, abbeys of roman style were built – like Saint Mary of Collemaggio in Abruzzi, situated along the “Tatturo Magno”, the Great Tract, which connected L’Aquila with Pescara. Usually these churches had side shelters for shepherds, like the church of Saint Mary situated in Centurelli.