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I Butteri, Giovanni Fattori (1893)
"Driving wild cattle in the Maremma", illustration from The Penny Magazine, 1832

A buttero is a shepherd or cowboy in the region of Maremma, in Tuscany in the Northern Latium and in the Pontine Marshes.

The buttero habitually rides the horse typical of the Maremma, a Maremmano, and tends livestock, especially cattle (such as the native Maremmana breed) and sheep. The characteristic saddle is called a bardella. The buttero's attire consists of coarse cotton pants, leggings, a velvet jacket and a black hat. He protects himself from the rain with a large mantle called the pastràno. He carries the mazzarella, a stick employed for herding oxen and horses.

They are still present in the memory of older Tuscans and in folk celebrations. On the day of Sant'Antonio Abate (January 17) for the benediction of the animals, they parade in the centers of Tarquinia, Tuscania, Marta, and Valentano. Butteri participate in the various fetes of the merca in Alberese, Blera, Monte Romano, Tarquinia, and Tuscania. In the merca held in April at the Roccaccia, not far from Tarquinia, after having branded the young calves born in the year, the butteri compete in games of ability.

Solemn participation in various celebrations of Jesus Christ's Passion assumes particular color and vivacity in the procession of the Resurrected Christ held in Tarquinia in the late afternoon of Easter. The mounted butteri precede the statue through the crowd, firing salvoes with their maremmana shotguns.

The life of the buttero of other times was not to be envied from a qualitative point of view: the hard job in the marshes of the Maremma began before dawn, with rounding up the herds on horseback. They would take a unique meal before midday:

We made loaf with bread and chicory accompanied (but not always) from a piece of ventresca or budellone. We picked up tomatoes, chicory, potatoes and ferlenghi for the acquacotta. At dusk, after the return to the barn, the only comfort was the rapazzola , a rudimentary bed, close to the beasts. The town was sometimes visited, for the inn, to warm up themselves with the wine of the wine cellar, to discuss livestock and to tune up a song "a braccio".[1]

Roots in Northern Italian military history[edit]

The image of the military mercenary of the 14th and 15th centuries in Northern Italy (called cavalieri) riding in suits of armor wielding the mazza' (mace) persists in that of the buttero. Many pastoralists of Northern Italy found better pay as mercenaries of the period, but when unemployed returned to their pastoral lifestyle. They brought back their accoutrements of battle and adapted them, whimsically, to herding.

Current roles in Italian society[edit]

With only five or six large herds still tended by butteri today in the unspoiled national park of Maremma (the rest of Italy's livestock largely raised by commercial concerns), the tradition of the butteri is still relived outside the park in small demonstrations in the region's rural towns and in the Italian equivalent of rodeos.

It is still possible to ride with the butteri as they check their cattle in the Parco Regionale della Maremma (Maremma regional park).

Buffalo Bill and the butteri[edit]

In 1890, Buffalo Bill took his Wild West show to Rome and northern Italy (during his tour of Europe) to display cowboy skills, such as the capture of young cattle and the taming of wild horses. Unimpressed, the Italian cowboys (the butteri) challenged Buffalo Bill and his show to a contest of skill. As the story is told, the butteri proved far more experienced than the Buffalo Bill troupe, and the national moment of glory for the butteri was savored for many years.[2][3][4]

Remembrance[edit]

The first Sunday in August in Tuscany still provides an annual festival to commemorate the skills of the butteri.[5]

Existence outside of Italy[edit]

Italian emigrants to California brought the tradition of the buttero with them, where they called themselves cavalcanti.[citation needed] They brought with them skills in rounding up large herds of cattle, usage of the lasso, and horsemanship.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Il Buttero (Italian)". 
  2. ^ P. Romano, in the Strenna dei Romanisti of 1947, describes the episode as follows (in Italian):

    [Il colonnello Cody] Venne invitato a colazione da notabilità cittadine e una volta perfino dalla duchessa Caetani. In tale occasione, anzi, la gentildonna ricordò i famosi allevamenti di cavalli in libertà nei propri feudi e la valentia dei butteri specialmente di Cisterna, uno dei feudi della Casata.
    - Perché - disse - non li volete mettere alla prova con i vostri indomiti cavalli? I vostri domatori, in compenso, potrebbero domare i miei puledri...
    Buffalo Bill accettò. Corse, anzi, una scommessa.
    La prova fu fatta e si svolse tra l'attesa di un pubblico enorme. Si concluse così: i cow-boys di Buffalo Bill diedero prova di rara maestria nell'affrontare i cavalli di Cisterna; ma i butteri dei Caetani facilmente resero ragionevoli quelli delle praterie americane, non ostante ammaestrati chi sa da quanto tempo... a fare gl'indomiti !

    —Buffalo Bill a Roma, pp. 46-48
  3. ^ Rydell, Robert; Kroes, Rob (2005). Buffalo Bill in Bologna The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922. Chicago, USA: University of Chicago Press. 
  4. ^ "Buffalo Bill e i Butteri". 
  5. ^ "Maremma & Peasant: Peasant shrewdness in Tuscany". 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buttero — Please support Wikipedia.
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73 news items

 
L'osservatore laziale
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 07:15:00 -0700

Tarquinia (VT) - “La Società Villaggio del Buttero si è aggiudicata il casale dei guardiani, in località Roccaccia. La consegna ufficiale avverrà in occasione della Festa della Merca”. A dare l'annuncio l'assessore al centro aziendale Renzo Bonelli. "L ...
 
Agenzia di Stampa Asca
Fri, 18 Apr 2014 08:22:30 -0700

(ASCA) - Treviso, 18 apr 2014 - ''Fino al 2015 governero' nell'esclusivo interesse dei veneti. Non si puo' buttare via un anno per fare campagna elettorale''. Lo ha dichiarato Luca Zaia, presidente del Veneto, rispondendo al direttore di Rete Veneta ...
 
Complex.com
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 11:11:15 -0700

Specifically: A raincoat from Hancock, kicks via Buttero, and a couple of unstructured blazers from some sprezzy Italian-sounding companies. Che bella. One tip Josh hits on that we co-sign: Going tonal, as in finding a color that looks good on you and ...

Ostia Tv

Ostia Tv
Mon, 21 Apr 2014 21:30:00 -0700

26 Aprile 2014: Festa del Libro Giardino della Biblioteca Gino Pallotta (in caso di pioggia la manifestazione conferenze in via del Buttero a Maccarese. Ore 12,30 sarà servita una pietanza descritta in un libro, in un racconto, in una poesia, in un ...

Il Giunco.net

Il Giunco.net
Mon, 21 Apr 2014 02:11:15 -0700

... promuovendo al contempo la valorizzazione del territorio e di un allevamento allo stato brado delle mandrie equine e bovine (Presidio Slow Food) di Razza Maremmana in purezza e la presenza della figura del Buttero a cavallo sono simbolo stesso ...
 
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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:03:45 -0700

Il presidente del Consiglio Matteo Renzi, nell'intervista realizzata con il direttore de 'La Stampa' Mario Calabresi, annuncia la sua partecipazione alla partita del cuore di Emercengy. Giocherà “il 19 maggio, a Firenze. Vi dico la formazione: Baggio ...
 
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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:20:19 -0700

A Marta ci fermeremo nella casa di un Buttero, in aperta campagna tra ulivi e tavole apparecchiate per l'occasione. Qui il pranzo finale, preparato dalle sagge mani delle donne, renderà il nostro viaggio un vera integrazione con la cultura locale ...

Ostia Tv

Ostia Tv
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 06:18:45 -0700

Fregene – Appuntamento sabato 5 aprile nella sala conferenze di via del Buttero, a Maccarese, p er la presentazione del libro di Melania Mazzucco 'Sei come sei', edito da Einaudi. All'evento, organizzato dalla Biblioteca Gino Pallotta di Fregene ...
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