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Ancient Tuscan Falconry

Traditional Falconry in Tuscany
Way back around 600AD, falconry was brought to Italy from the East via the silk trading routes. It is the sport of kings yet it was originally developed in harsh terrain and desert regions as a practical way of providing meat, especially if you were travelling. The training of a bird and its mastery took a long time and required great skill, which is why the sport was adopted by the aristocracy – you needed money to be able to indulge in this hobby. In Italy the art of falconry is alive and well. Young men such as Fabio Bonciolini are training in the art. When you see a falconer fly his birds one can only be impressed that this wild and somewhat savage creature allows itself to be harnessed by man. It’s not all plain sailing though says XXX, Birds have to be fitted with a tracking device so that, if they do decide to take flight, they can be found. “One of my young birds decided to go awol. I jumped in the car and tried to follow but we are restricted to the roads and a bird can soar free. The range of the tracker is only about 20km and I lost him heading off towards Grossetto. It took 3 days of driving up and down Tuscany just waiting for my tracer to bleep so I knew he was in the vicinity.  I found him eventually on the border with Umbria in a large stand of pine trees. He just flew down to me when I arrived as though he had been waiting for me.” “Birds of prey are not affectionate at all, it’s not in their nature. But you can build a relationship with a bird which is a lifetimes bond. If you have a good relationship with a bird it means that you respect it’s needs and character and it will respect you if you are firm, calm and fair. There is also a lot of bribery in the form of food that takes place!” At Monteriggione in  early July there is a huge medieval festival where re-enactments of medieval hunts on horseback with falcons takes place. It is a spectacular sight and you can but marvel at the level of horsemanship and bird handling skill that is required to do both things at once. Fabio Bonciolini gives falconry displays and runs courses from beginners to advanced bird handling in Tuscany. +39 3394101374 or fabiobonciolini@hotmail.com Article from The Tuscan Magazine [geo_mashup_map]