Mountain Raga, Sila - Calabria
The contact with nature, the value of tradition, a bond that unites the man with his earth twice. A strong bond, which many have lost with time, but that in some corners of the earth is still deeply rooted. A hard work, perpetually marked by the cyclicity of time. This is the transhumance of cows in Calabria. A migration that takes place in two periods of the year to ensure the best pasture for animals. A secular rite that is renewed. In July, from the deserted pastures on the Ionian Sea, the herds are brought to the pastures of the Silas Mountains. In December they return from mountain to sea. A journey back in time, but also forward, towards building a future. A blend of tradition and progress. Rituals that repeat and serve to make the young people return to their land. The cows of Calabrian transhumance are the podoliche. A breed of distant origins. They have a unique adaptation ability, they eat everything and are fast even on rough terrain. At sunset, the cowherds chase the cows to put them in a row. Concitations, fatigue, gestures, and rituals that blend with the dark noise of the herd. A group of men and animals waiting to move to a signal. A two or three day trip. Many miles to do, between villages to cross and winding paths to go. A route made at stages; a journey marked by the sound of bells hanging on the neck of the animals; the strong smell of cows never leaves you. Mothers mumble nervously at desperate search for the little ones. Steam exhales from their bodies as they thrust into frightening one to the other. Older cows know the way. For years they have been walking the mountain paths, driving their companions to the pastures. They know every corner of those places. They wait for the whole herd to arrive at their destination. If a calf gets lost, the mother knows how to find it. The rhythms are slow and tiring. A passion for animals, almost a vocation, without which, say the cowherds, they could not live. Old and teenagers do heavy work shifts; hours and hours watching livestock; days with cold and uncomfortable rest. A tough fight for survival that is renewed over time.