The bells from sheep herd coming down from the Pyrenees mountains to the village at night after grazing all day were ringing in my ears after i first read about Austria's Cattle Parades in Tyrol at the end of the summer.
These old mountain traditions feel a world away for city dwellers yet there is an old-fashioned magic to it.
"September through Mid-October, farming villages all over Tirol round up the herds for the great autumn cattle drive. Each year at the beginning of summer, some 190,000 cows, horses, sheep and goats are brought up to Tirol’s beautiful Alpine pastures to graze on juicy meadows. Some 120 days later, the cattle, decked out in garlands of flowers and ribbons, with bells attached to their heavy leather collars, is driven down from the Alpine pastures to winter quarters down in the valley.
Over 40 cattle drives are taking place in Tirol each fall. The homecoming of the cows is still a very special and proud day for the villages. Apart from celebrating the homecoming of the animals, people also celebrate the homecoming of more than 3,000 Alpine herdsmen and dairymen who usually spend most of their summers above the timberline. On the day of the grand cattle drive, stalls are set up in the street, selling all sorts of authentic Tirolean specialties and refreshments..."
(* Photo courtesy of Austrian Tourist Office)