The Rich Fishing History of Abruzzo’s Trabocchi

Trabocchi, Trabocco

One of the many trabocchi dotting the coast of Abruzzo. Image by Lorenabacchilega of Creative Commons

Trabocchi are “fishing machines” dating back to the 18th century.

At least that’s the earliest documentation attesting to their existence. Some sources claim these fascinating structures as being first put in use by the Phoenicians. Trabocchi (read more on Wikipedia) are all along the coast of Abruzzo. During my recent train ride up Italy’s eastern coast on Trenitalia’s Frecciabianca (The White Arrow) from Pescara to Bologna, I saw several trabocchi. My dear friend Novelia from Sulmona has been urging me to experience one of these historical structures firsthand. So, I’ve added it to my bucket list and hopefully, I will experience one within the next year.

An old, black and white film added to my resolve to visit one of the trabocchi.

It was when I viewed the following film on YouTube that I said, “No ands, ifs or buts…I’m doing this!” This means I will be doing an in-depth story on trabocchi in the not-so-distant future. So, consider this post a “tease” of things to come. I’m still a bit overwhelmed with the stories I’m already working on from this last trip to Sulmona, Abruzzo (a visit to Pietrantonj, the region’s oldest winery, and an in-the-kitchen morning making handmade pasta with Novelia) so I’ve opted, this week, to keep my post brief and share this musical trabocchi video. If you’re like me you’ll find yourself singing along. I’ve always had an appreciation for cultures and activities that are characterized by people singing while they work. This is a prime example.

A brief translation of the video’s description:

Sequences: fishermen raising nets on palafitte (an ancient dwelling built on piles over water) using a winch; fish being collected with a silk: fisherman working and singing; fishermen repairing nets.