Even Buffalo Bill was so surprised and appreciative of the Butteri’s skills and experience when, during a public challenge in 1890, the Italians beat his troupe by excelling at capturing young cattle and taming wild horses.
The Butteri are Italian cowboys who for centuries have roamed the marshes of the Maremma in Southern Tuscany and Northern Lazio, herding the native “maremmana” cattle, a breed that is famous for its large belly and long horns.
The Buttero cowboy usually rides a Maremmano horse, which is also typical of the area and dresses coarse cotton pants, leggings, a velvet jacket and a black hat. He carries the “mazzarella”, a stick used for herding oxen and wild horses.
With their origins dating as far back as the 15th century, the Butteri almost reached the point of disappearing from Maremma’s traditions. But luckily, a group of cowboys reunited with the objective of protecting this ancient craft, and they have been promoting themselves and their history by organizing or participating in festivals and shows.
So, even today, if you visit the Maremma Tuscany, you can spend a whole day with the Butteri, to follow their tasks in controlling and moving cattle and wild horses in the beautiful fields… a total immersion in the Maremma territory, its history and culture!
During summer, different farms also organize equestrian shows, during which the Butteri delight the public by performing ancient ability games on horseback and taming wild cattle.
Text & Photo sources: Just in Toscana, Butteri d’Alta Maremma, Maremma Magazine