Transhumance: economy, culture, laws
The property of the sheep was in the hands of few families in each village or little town in inner Abruzzo and the territory of Foggia, and these families amassed in the centuries great wealth, being on the same level as the religious and political powers. They were called "massari di pecore" and with the revenues of the wool trade built and decorated the great palaces that we find in all the mountain towns of Abruzzo.
The city of L'Aquila was a crucial element: the Northern outpost in the transhumance roads, and the Southern center that provided wool to the trade of wool and textiles to merchants from Lombardy, Tuscany, France and Germany, which made of L'Aquila the wool capital of Europe in the later Middle Ages. The rich monuments of the towns, churches, palaces in Abruzzo, Molise, Apulia, would not be possible without the tolls paid on the border posts by the shepherds passing with their flocks.
In 1447 a law made by the Aragonese obliged everyone having over 20 sheep or goats to pass the winter in the plains, and to pay a tax for the "mena" (the moving of the sheep). In 1549 King Ferrante I of Naples passed a law to regulate the tratturi, which were "made for the ease of flocks moving down to Apulia and return to Abruzzo" and were to be kept "of width 70 feet, without trees, orchards or other obstacles". The tratturo leading from L'Aquila to Foggia was 243 km, from Castel di Sangro to Lucera 127 km and from Pescasseroli to Candela 211 km. The beginning of the tratturo was marked by a big stone, called "titolo", still visible in Pescasseroli. The tratturo was 111 mt wide, the tratturello 55 metres and the "bracci" 18 mt.