Our photography tour guests are often surprised to get shots that are unplanned, and unexpected even. On a recent photography tour of Tuscany, the photographer guests had their tripods set up roadside, with cameras pointed toward the pastoral scene of sheep grazing in the rolling Tuscan hillside. Suddenly and without warning, over the top of the ridgeline came bounding six enormous white dogs. Their barking and their protective surrounding of the sheep let us know right away that the dogs were on a mission. These beautiful guardians of the sheep were the famous sheepdogs of Meremma, or as the folks in Tuscany call them, the Maremmano.
The Maremmano have traditionally been used in Tuscany to protect flocks of sheep from wolves that remain active predators in modern times. Their name is derived from the Maremma region of Tuscany. The dogs have been used for centuries in the grazing fields of Italy and are mentioned in ancient Roman texts. They have maintained their status in rural Tuscany to this day, where they are definitely a part of the culture. In Tuscany, the Maremmano is adored and revered for its guarding instincts and loyalty. They are the prized family members of many Tuscan farmers and are educated from birth to hone thier protective abilities.
Maremmanos are trained from a very tender age to bond with the sheep. Puppies that are only a few weeks old are placed with young lambs to grow alongside their future flock. The strong connection between the dogs and the sheep is lifelong. The Maremmano is considered to be one of the most fiercely loyal of all breeds. Their devotion to and protection of the sheep in Tuscany has enabled the sheep to thrive from the first century to the present day. These dogs are beautiful to behold, especially when they are hard at work in the glorious Tuscan countryside. Don't be surprised to find them as unplanned subjects for photo shoots during our photography tours and workshops in Tuscany!