Who knows Atina? And the Val di Comino (Comino Valley)? We are in the Lazio side of the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise: a small paradise with castles, mountains, rivers and lush countryside.
And this was the setting for the Summer Tour organized by Fieracavalli of Verona to celebrate its 120th anniversary, an important milestone for one of the most important fairs in the world dedicated to the horse world.
The link with the Valle di Comino was born three years ago when Fieracavalli began to explore the world of equestrian tourism, which, like all forms of emotional and experiential tourism, has a strong interest from those who want to visit our country in an original way. A way to combine sport, nature and famous Italian towns. With the publication of the "Italia a Cavallo" guide- in collaboration with the Touring Club , Fieracavalli discovered some of the most exciting routes in this area.
A study on the horse trails has been commissioned, meanwhile a group of volunteers - the "Riders of the Tratturi of the Val di Comino" - have been working hard, cleaning up and organizing an incredible series of paths and tracks for a total of 120 km of trails that went to form the "Valle di Comino Equestrian Park" (inaugurated on the 17th of June), practicable on horseback, on foot and by mountain bike.
The ‘tratturi’ are the ancient roads used by shepherds to move sheep twice a year from the summer mountain pastures to the winter pastures in the coastal areas and vice versa. For millennia, to offer greener pastures to their flocks, shepherds have traced paths and rest areas, in sanctuaries or special places with a unique charm.
Some of these ‘tratturi’ and transhumance trails have been candidated by Italy as Unesco World Heritage sites.
"From our report we saw that the Val Comino was all covered by a series of paths of various kinds, like the veins in a human body. We decided to deepen and discover this partly unknownvterritory ," says Luciano Rizzi, Director of Commercial Area Agriexpo and Technology Veronafiere.
In the meantime, with the 120th anniversary of Fieracavalli comes the desire for a whole year of celebrations throughout Italy. The passion for horses is universal and in Italy it manifests itself with many customs, competitions, parties and events.
"Therefore, the idea of creating different events came: in Syracuse, Atina and then in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. We joined existing and successful events while in Val di Comino we helped to create a specific event to reflect the soul of the place".
For the Fieracavalli Summer Tour Val di Comino the formula was passion for horses, sport, entertainment and discovery of the territory. The same evening Gala (whose program was directed and written by Maria Baleri, a woman with the “horse gene” running through her veins with such a passion that perhaps, she should learn how to neigh to get even deeper into the horse world) wanted to tell the story and traditions of the Valley of Comino through a series of numbers that condensed equestrian technique, dance and spectacle.
But Atina has also been a showcase for local producers who have achieved excellence. No 'junk food’ but food culture. We strolled through the food and wine stands, hearing conversations on the cold pressing of olives, the best time for the grape harvest and the sparkling of native grapes.
A delight for those who want to discover the soul of a place and meet 'real people', those who get up early in the morning to check a Senatore Cappelli wheat field , who fight the extinction of the Quadricorn Sheep and the Donkey of the Lepini area. Those who turn a simple meal into an experience of flavors and colors.
A special mention has to be made to the Butteri of Cottanello group: beautiful as the sun. They know about tradition, culture, love and Italian history. They are elegant on their horses, in their clothes and with their crafted Tolfa saddles . Their name is “Association of riders and breeders of the Tolfetano horse of Cottanello”. We followed them along the tratturo that leads to Atina for the blessing in front of the church. But we also shot them in backstage moments of well-deserved rest.
The Fieracavalli Summer Tour was held in the Equestrian Center of Atina, a real surprise for those who had never heard of the Valle di Comino. A center that hosts international competitions with sand and grass fields along the banks of the charming Melfa river, which after running along Atina, it enters one of the most beautiful gorges in Italy.
We were there with a photo exhibition taken by the great photographer Tonino Bernardelli and the book 'Stories of women, men, horses and art' that we donated to the winners of the competitions and to the representatives of the associations, trying to capture all the emotions of the participants.
Fieracavalli Summer Tour Valle di Comino has passed the test, the enthusiasm of the public has been amazing, the local organization has set up a well oiled machine fueled by professionalism, now finally a reality for the territory that will increasingly be a reference point for tourism.
The work of those who love the horse and this land and has cleaned and arranged over 120 km of bridleways has been more than useful: only those who sow can harvest. And the Associazione Cavalieri dei Tratturi of Val di Comino has made a good harvest!
Honor to the riders and to all those who love the horse world in all its nuances!