Festa della Transumanza – Mendatica…
All around Italy, festivals take place in villages and towns big and small. The locals get together and celebrate, usually with lots of food. The community spirit is amazing!
Lorenzo suggested that we visit Mendatica for the Festa della Transumanza. First step was to find out what this festival was for.
“Transuming comes from Latin and means crossing more land, and that is what the shepherds of southern Italy do when they move their many flocks in search of a climate that is more favourable. The peculiarity is that while in southern Italy you have to pursue a lot of miles in search of a better climate for sheep farming, here in Liguria, it’s just a few meters and the climate changes completely, the transition from the seas to the mountains is very short. That’s why Mendatica has transhumance. The sheep from the hills go downhill in no time, and although the journey is really limited, the climate is totally different.”
So, in summary, the festival is based around the movement of the animals from the mountains to the lower areas for winter.
Whilst the festival would go from Friday to Sunday, as Lorenzo was to be in Mendatica on the Friday afternoon with a group of people he was taking walking, we decided to join him. We made ourselves some panini for a picnic lunch, and stopped off at Lago Madonna on the way.
We arrived early, and already there were huge buses along the road as we arrived and hundreds of very excited children starting to line the streets. They had been brought in from far and wide to experience the event. The key act that day was leading hundreds of sheep, goats and cows through the village streets. It was educational (and great fun). Unfortunately, the time-keeping skills of the animals were not great, so they didn’t arrive on cue at 3pm. But the air of anticipation continued to build until at last the shepherds and animals started their procession down the cobblestone streets.
(see if you can spot us in the following video of the event)
Lorenzo had positioned us near the top of the village which gave us awesome views of the procession. The downside was that when it had passed by we had to follow the parade down to the main square – and you can imagine walking in the footsteps of hundreds of animals!! Good thing they eat mainly grass!
After a coffee at the bar with Lorenzo and his group, we bid them farewell to make our way home. – only to get stuck behind a huge bus travelling down a very narrow windy road. This, together with the heavy mist we struck across the mountains, made for rather a slow trip getting back.