Torricella Peligna e i tratturi     
Torricella Peligna and the Sheep Tracks      




Torricella Peligna and the Sheep Tracks

 There are many reasons which lead us to believe that the origins of Torricella Peligna might be linked in some way to the seasonal migration of flocks of sheep from Abruzzo towards the warmer lands of Puglia: its position in the lee of  an ancient sheep track, the cult of Saint Giacomo, a holy pilgrim, very dear to travellers and in particular to the shepherds carrying out this transhumance; the very Church of Saint Giacomo built around AD 1,000; the name of the “Saliera” Plain, given to an area near to the inhabited zone and not far distant from the sheep track, (this name probably originates from the custom of administering salt to the animals in that area); the numerous toponyms still present in the historic centre which remind us of the various activities linked to sheep-farming, to the transformation of and the working of wool. It should be recalled that this territory, in particular the mountain regions of the Maiella and Monte Pizzi, are “landing stages” for transhumance and thus stations of arrival and departure. One should not imagine large herd-filled roads of disproportionate width, but rather secondary tracks linking with those further downhill that run along the Adriatic, or those uphill that run from Ataleta and reach the Molise. In effect, according to some 16th Century records, the main roads involved in this district flanked the two rivers, the Sangro and the Aventino, and various little sheep tracks functioned to connect these together. Amongst the main ones, is the sheep-track that, forking off from the main Celano-Foggia arm, at the level of Campo di Giove, crossed the Maiella at the Guado di Coccia, ran down at Palena and then carried on through Colledimacine, Torricella Peligna and Roccascalegna; it crossed the Sangro at Ponte di Sant’Antonio, close by the modern railway station of Bomba and, climbing towards Monte Pallano and Tornareccio, it came out again at the sheep-track called


The idea and planning of these articles is by the museum system: Arc. G. Manzi – Dr. A. Manzi.

Centurelle-Montesecco. This connection could also be made at the level of Perano, following the course of the Sangro. In effect, those who went down by the sheep-track following the banks of the Aventino, also came out on the main Centurelle-Montesecco track, which, coming from the direction of Lanciano, crossed the Sangro at a bridge located between Perano and Atessa. The Bridge of Sant’Antonio, on the Sangro, was a strategic point from which various routes spread out, linking the valleys of the Sangro and the Aventino, involving the territories of Altino, Roccascalegna, Gessopalena, Torricella Peligna, Lama and Civitella Messer Raimondo. It is likely that use of some of these routes was subject to payment, as is shown in the ancient statutes of Altino and Roccascalegna. One had to pay a toll to cross the Bridge of Sant’Antonio too: in 1620, it yielded an income of 100 ducats for the feudal lord, although this decreased steadily in the ensuing years until it became only 25 ducats in 1689, a tangible sign of the decrease of transit flow.

The routes for the sheep-tracks had probably first been set out in ancient times, as evidenced by the remains of Italic fortifications or archaeological sites located along the sheep-tracks. The strategic importance of these routes, by means of which commercial and cultural exchanges also took place, was reinforced in later centuries when dwellings, churches and convents were built alongside the sheep-tracks.



Produced by: A. Lanci Museum Productions – Lanciano (Chieti).

 Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca