|Andrea "Drew" Mischianti on the fence, Western Games, 2005. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber|
By Ruth Ellen Gruber
An exhibition of Italian "cowboy" life will open at the 29th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada. The exhibition will then run from Feb. 1 to Sept. 9.
It was put together by Andrea "Drew" Mischianti and his wife, Natalia Estrada, and is based on photographs taken by Estrada. They document the "butteri," or Italian mounted shepherds/cowboys of Tuscany's Maremma region, but also the U.S. West-style round-ups and cowboy life lived in Italy by Mischianti, Estrada and other enthusiasts. (Call them "spaghetti cowboys"....)
Here's a video the couple put together about it:
I met Mischianti on several occasions, when he was working for a "ranch" near Lake Bracciano, west of Rome. He was a prime mover of the Western Games held there for several years -- rodeo and riding competitions, with lots of other attractions, stalls, Indian dancing and the like. I think I still have a text message saved on my cellphone when he invited me to come there to watch (or take part in) branding.
|Disembodied Headdresses at the Western Games near Rome. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber|
Mischianti has been very active in the Italian western, horse, riding and cowboy scene for many years and long wrote a column about the cowboy life for an Italian wild west magazine. He and Estrada run a "Ranch Academy" to teach and take part in "buckeroo" skills and lifestyle. They also take part in competitions and exhibitions of skills.