A young "buttero," or Italian cowboy. Italy's cowboys… (Natalia Estrada )
Cowboys define the American West, so it's hard to imagine Italian cowboys kicking up dust on the plains of southern Tuscany. But they do, tending Maremmana cattle, which have distinctive lyre-shaped horns that look ornate compared with plain old U.S. stock.
Butteri, as Italian cowboys are called, will expand their range by thousands of miles this winter to perform at the 29th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev. "Every culture that herds cattle and works with horses has commonalities and also ... their own unique traditions and techniques," says event spokeswoman Darcy Minter.
The gathering in northeastern Nevada from Jan. 28-Feb. 2 brings together ranchers, storytellers and musicians who showcase Western cowboy culture and traditions. This year's gallery exhibition will feature "Italian Buckaroos: Old World & New World," and butteri also will appear on panels with Italian-American ranchers to talk about the similarities and differences in their respective cattle-rustling work.
And, of course, there are dozens of Western performers too, including cowboy poets Baxter Black and Waddie Mitchell; and musicians Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Los Texmaniacs (Texas-style cowboy music) and Cowboy Celtic (mixing in Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English origins of some cowboy tunes).
Tickets for workshops and performances go on sale Oct. 4. Individual events cost between $20 and $35 each; three-day passes are priced at $25 for day passes and $60 to $75 for deluxe passes.
Info: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, (888) 880-5885