Butteri were the cowboys (formerly also mounted shepherds) of the coastal Maremma plains of Tuscany. The buttero was a herdsman, the man in charge of watching over, taking care of, taming and breaking in large herds of cows and horses bred in the wild. However, the land reclamation works carried out under Mussolini in the 1930s and 40s, and the agrarian reforms of the 1950s, which marked the end of the large landed estates, also basically ended the era of the professional buttero. The Maremma and the Alta Maremma are probably the last “off the beaten track” parts of Tuscany and it is here that you still have a chance to glimpse what remains of this fascinating Tuscan lifestyle, that of the butteri.
Only 5 or 6 large herds are still tended by butteri today in the national park of Maremma, but the tradition of the butteri is relived outside the park in small demonstrations in the region’s rural towns and in the Italian equivalent of rodeos. It is possible to ride with the butteri as they check their cattle in the Parco Regionale della Maremma (Maremma regional park) and on the first Sunday in August the butteri gather and brand their cattle, showing off their skills as horsemen.
More about the butteri of the Maremma.
More about the Alta Maremma.