From Provence to Piedmont

From Provence to Piedmont

From Provence to Piedmont In the mid-15th century, the great transhumance movements left Provence’s desiccated plains in spring to “make the journey” (far la Routo, in Occitan) to the Stura Valley’s summer pastures via the Maddalena Pass, in search of new mountain grazing land necessitated by the increasing size of flocks.

In the best years, between 50 and 60,000 sheep travelled from the Crau and Camargue Plains to graze in the mountains of present-day Piedmont.

The great transhumance created unchangeable ties between territories. Many of the pastoralists now active in Provence came from Piedmont’s Occitan valleys, the Stura Valley in particular.

Piedmontese shepherds in Provence

The frequency of Piedmontese surnames among pastoralists in Lower Provence bears witness to this phenomenon. Many young people from Piedmont’s Occitan valleys left their villages in search of adventure and a trade. Their grandfathers and fathers taught them how to herd and take care of sheep, aided and abetted by their knowledge of the mountains, so that they could find work as shepherds.

Many of them made first-rate shepherds and ended up acquiring their own flocks and becoming pastoralists in their own right. Names such as Andreis, Balbis, Belliardo, Giavelli, Porracchia, Solda and Tellène, along with many others, distinguished themselves in the transhumant sheep farmer’s profession in Provence.

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