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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]


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]



  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" (PDF). 
  5. ^ "Maremma & Peasant: Peasant shrewdness in Tuscany". 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buttero — Please support Wikipedia.
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Wed, 29 Apr 2015 13:44:18 -0700

SINGAPORE — With a new chef at the helm, Buttero, which means “Tuscan cowboy” in Italian, finally lives up to its name. Chef Antonio Massagli grew up in the Tuscan town of Lucca, among a community of farmers, and brings with him elegantly rustic ...

Footwear News

Footwear News
Wed, 13 May 2015 14:06:44 -0700

Brands include New Balance, Adidas, Puma and Converse, in addition to Swedish athletic brand Eytys. Dress brands include Grenson, with plans to add Buttero. Carlson said the store caters to those who believe footwear makes a difference in how they look.


Wed, 27 May 2015 08:22:30 -0700

... Arcangela Galluzzo, l'assessore alla Cultura Daniela Poggi e il consigliere comunale Giuseppe Pavinato, hanno preso parte alla premiazione del concorso letterario “Scrittori di classe 2015”, presso la Sala Conferenze di via del Buttero, a Maccarese.

La Repubblica

La Repubblica
Mon, 25 May 2015 03:00:50 -0700

... può più succedere niente, quando ho visto quelli della Mercedes fuori alla SC ho pensato che facessero finta... poi l'ho sperato, poi ho passato dieci minuti a inventare bestemmie colorite che nemmeno un buttero con la luna storta... potenza del ...

Il Giunco.net

Il Giunco.net
Wed, 20 May 2015 07:26:15 -0700

Nel cartellone di “Battito Buttero” alla Tenuta agricola dell'Uccellina, sono in programma a partire dalle 10 del mattino, iniziative e spettacoli con i cavalli (Info: www.circoloippicouccellina.it – 334-9797181, 0564-597104). Infine, in serata, ultima ...

Il Giunco.net

Il Giunco.net
Sat, 21 Mar 2015 05:33:45 -0700

Alessandro Santin (buttero) CALENZANO (FI) – Nel corso di una bella serata pugilistica alla presenza di un nutrito pubblico, il pugile della Fight Gym Grosseto, Alessandro Santin, buttero di professione, vinceva ai punti sull'atleta di casa Niccolò ...

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Toscana Oggi
Wed, 20 May 2015 06:30:00 -0700

La 4° edizione di Battito Buttero si terrà domenica 24 maggio a Collecchio di Magliano in Toscana (GR). E' il “battesimo per la sella” presso il Centro Ippico dell'Uccellina. Spettacoli equestri, esibizioni di butteri, degustazione e vendita di ...

Il Foglio

Il Foglio
Wed, 06 May 2015 21:33:55 -0700

... di mezzo tra buttero maremmano e Tom Mix hollywoodiano), “in sei mesi, da quando non era un cazzo, ha conquistato tutto, e quindi una vignetta al giorno”. Perché il patimento precedente, molto si era fatto sentire: “Renzi è un mattatore, Letta era ...

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