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T H E

L O C A L

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M A G A Z I N E

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TOWNS

CASTLES

TOBOGGANING

Strolling through Brixen and Klausen

Living like knights did

Two pros tell stories from the past and present

A Place Full of Beauty! Where culture meets the great outdoors

Wo es schmeckt! Ein Heft über den Genuss und die Berge

B R I X E N

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K L A U S E N

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G I T S C H B E R G

J O C H T A L

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N A T Z - S C H A B S

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L Ü S E N


MOUNTAIN DAYS SÜDTIROL BRIXEN · GITSCHBERG JOCHTAL KL AUSEN & SURROUNDINGS · LÜSEN · NATZ-SCHABS

ain t n u o M feelings

2 2 .0 5 . – 14.06. 2020 W W W. M O U N TA I N D AY S . I T


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Contributors: 1 For photographer Caroline Renzler, COR is a job that is close to her heart. “I’m so happy to be involved in this exciting project for a second time,” she says. Her favourite story in this issue is the interview with the two professional lugers. “I enjoy tobogganing myself,” she explains. “But I like to take it slowly so I don’t get thrown off on the bends.” 2 No, that’s not a garden gnome. It’s a castle gnome! He stands guard in the inner courtyard at Trostburg Castle in the shadow of the centuries-old walls. While our protagonist Terese Gröber took our editor-inchief, Lenz Koppelstätter, through the numerous rooms and halls, the gnome made sure that nobody ventured into the castle uninvited.

3 As the publishing manager, Valeria Dejaco is responsible for putting the magazine together. This means work, work and more work! How she finds time to regularly go skiing in winter and hiking in summer is anyone’s guess. Born in Brixen, she is well acquainted with all the ski lodges far and wide. Her favourite is the Plosehütte. “As a teen I used to spend hours playing cards and eating jam-filled dumplings there,” she says.

Cor. Il cuore. Das Herz. The heart. It beats for the beautiful things in life – from nature, crystal-clear winter skies and exhilarating sport to the spirit of a place, and its visual arts and culture. Brixen/Bressanone, Gitschberg Jochtal/Rio Pusteria, Klausen/Chiusa, NatzSchabs/Natz-Sciaves and Lüsen/Luson offer all these things and more. For this issue, we’ve visited some of the places that make this region so beautiful as well as the people who live amidst and embody this beauty. And in the process, we’ve discovered and written some fascinating stories.

Happy reading! The Editorial Team

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How It Sparkles! Four stunning images

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New & Approved News from the region

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Q&A with… Johann Mantinger, South Tyrol’s fastest speck slicer

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Beautiful Towns Strolling through Brixen and Klausen

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Discovering a Slower Pace to Life How a skier came to love snowshoeing

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Skiing? A Treat for All the Senses! Ten ski lodges worth a visit

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Whose Tracks Are These? A wild guessing game

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Is Anyone Home? Paying a visit to Terese Gröber in Trostburg Castle

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A Tale of Two Lugers An interview with professional lugers Erika Lechner and Dominik Fischnaller

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Beautiful Things Products from the region

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A Day with... Snowcat driver Konrad Unterkircher

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A Beginner’s Guide to South Tyrol Part 2: Coping with all the outdoorsy stuff

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A Short Dictionary of South Tyrolean Understand what the locals say

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Up Among the Clouds Skiing in days gone by

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Favourite Places in... Winter Insider tips from the locals

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The Perfect Snapshot Three tips for your photos

Credits PUBLISHERS Brixen Tourism Cooperative Gitschberg Jochtal Tourist Office Klausen, Barbian, Feldthurns and Villanders Tourism Cooperative Natz-Schabs Tourism Cooperative Lüsen Tourist Office IDM Südtirol – Alto Adige CONTACT info@cormagazine.com

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EDITORIAL TEAM Ex Libris www.exlibris.bz.it PUBLISHING MANAGERS Valeria Dejaco (Ex Libris), Stefanie Unterthiner (IDM) EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Lenz Koppelstätter ART DIRECTOR Philipp Putzer www.farbfabrik.it

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C is for Cork Tips from sommelier Alexandra Erlacher The Black Horseman A piece of history

AUTHORS Valeria Dejaco, Maria Gall Prader, Josef Gelmi, Cassandra Han, Marianna Kastlunger, Lenz Koppelstätter, Ariane Löbert, Debora Nischler, Lisa Pötschko, Fabio Raineri PHOTOS IDM Südtirol – Alto Adige, Acquarena/Helmuth Rier, AlpsVision, Leonhard Angerer, Brixen Tourism Cooperative, Dekadenz, dpa picture alliance/Alamy, Jürgen Eheim, Eisacktaler Kellerei, Embawo, Alex Filz, Wolfgang Gafriller, Matthias Gasser, Gitschberg Jochtal Tourist Office, Ingrid Heiss, Hofburg Brixen, Sonya Hofer, Hubenbauer, ITAR-TASS News Agency/ Alamy, Martin Kitzberger, Andrea Klement, Köfererhof, Manuel Kottersteger, Kuenhof, Annelies Leitner, Mauritius images, Andreas Mierswa, MIYUCA, Helmut Moling, A. Nestl, Hannes Niederkofler, Judith Niederwanger/Alexander Pichler, Horst Oberrauch/Rotwild, Damian Pertoll, Michael Pezzei, Pichlerhütte, Philipp Pliger, pngimages, Flavio Prinoth, private, Simon Profanter, Pupp, Caroline Renzler, Arnold Ritter, Santifaller Photography, Ski school Vals Jochtal, Stefan Schütz, Shutterstock, Tiberio Sorvillo, South Tyrolean Provincial Archive (Planinschek archive, Schlern Verlag collection, Sommavilla Romeo collection), Spoon Agency/Valentin Geiseder, Andreas Tauber/FlipFlop Collective & Dreisatz OG, Andrea Terza, Tschott, Wikimedia, Harald Wisthaler ILLUSTRATIONS Michael Szyszka TRANSLATIONS AND PROOFREADING Ex Libris (Valeria Dejaco, Cassandra Han, Charlotte Marston) PRINTER Tezzele by Esperia, Lavis Kindly supported by:

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How It Sparkles! From fire-lit vineyards to snowy mountain slopes, the region’s beautiful contrasts enchant us time and time again. Four stunning images

A rare phenomenon – and an incredible sight: When frosty nights in spring threaten the young vines, winemakers battle to protect their livelihoods by lighting fires in the middle of their vineyards. The heat from the flames protects the grapevines from the cold.

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Gitschberg Jochtal is a particularly family-friendly skiing area. It boasts three toboggan runs, 15 lifts and 24 ski slopes as well as rustic mountain lodges and spectacular views across South Tyrol’s mountain landscape.

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Built in the Middle Ages as a place of exile for plague and cholera sufferers, nowadays the Fane Alm Alpine hamlet high above Vals/Valles is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers and cattle herders.

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Every year around Christmas, a light and music show transforms Hofburg palace in Brixen/Bressanone into a colourful, dreamy, alluring fairytale world.

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NEW & APPROVED News from the region

The Female Art of Comedy IS THERE A typical female sense of humour? Do women laugh differently to men? Do they make different kinds of jokes? These are the exact questions that Anna Heiss has been trying to answer of late. The 31-year-old has been the director of the legendary Dekadenz, a small-scale theatre and cabaret cellar in Brixen/Bres-

Anna Heiss has been the director of the legendary Dekadenz theatre in Brixen since 2017. The 31-yearold wants to empower more women to take to the stage.

sanone, since autumn 2017. Her mission during the current theatre season is to empower women by supporting female comedians to tread the boards. “Cabaret and small-scale theatre are so heavily dominated by men that I thought I would set up a counter movement,” says Anna, who was born in Brixen. “In our theatre, we’ve found that performances by women are generally better received, possibly because more women go to the theatre. When women account for 70 percent of the audience, why should 70 percent of the performers on stage be male?” Before launching her career as a cabaret director, Anna lived in Vienna, where she studied

The Plose massif is on its way to being a plasticfree mountain, its lodge managers having done away completely with plastic bottles. The stainless steel ones available as part of the Refill initiative can be filled up at quality-tested water fountains in the skiing and hiking area.

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PLOSE, which residents of Brixen/Bressanone commonly refer to as their local mountain, is a massif with several peaks: Telegraph (2,486 metres), Pfannspitze (2,547 metres) and Gabler (2,576 metres). Besides being a popular skiing and hiking area, it is known for the high-quality mineral water sourced from its spring.

film, theatre and media as well as cultural management. She has contributed to various theatre projects and is a member of the VonPiderZuHeiss theatre ensemble. Her involvement in theatre started at a young age when she joined a youth dance theatre group in Brixen. The Dekadenz theatre is based in a historic cellar known as the Anreiterkeller in the medieval district of Stufels/Stufles. Besides putting on two in-house productions a year, it hosts performers from German-speaking countries and jazz musicians. Anna’s wish is for gender to no longer play a role in the cabaret industry – something that she herself is now contributing to.

Now the mountain is also making a name for itself by launching an environmental protection campaign. Since summer 2019, plastic bottles have no longer been available in any of the mountain lodges on the Plose massif. The lodge managers are also taking steps to minimise their general plastic consumption as far as possible. At the same time, the “Refill” initiative has been launched to make stylish stainless steel bottles available at all lodges on the Plose. Visitors, hikers and skiers can fill up these bottles – or their own drink containers – from drinking water fountains on the Plose marked with “Refill” stickers. The quality of the water from these fountains has been tested, reassuring users that they are enjoying fresh spring water whilst doing their bit for the environment. Thanks to the pioneering campaign, Plose has become the first plastic-free hiking and skiing area in the Alps. www.brixen.org/km0


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PISA ISN’T the only place with a leaning tower. Barbian/Barbiano has one too! The 37-metre-high spire on top of St. Jakob parish church is clearly leaning to one side, its uppermost part almost 1.57 metres out of plumb. The church was first mentioned in documents in 1378 and although the tower’s tilt was said to have been noticed during construction, it was not corrected. The defect was likely caused by the condition of the subsoil, which is partly earthy and partly rocky. In the 19th century, the priest at the time forbade the bells from being rung for fear that the spire could collapse. Today, however, the building is constantly monitored and the spire is secured firmly to the main body of the church.

Did you know that... you can buy fruit from a vending machine? at least you can in the apple-producing villages of Natz/Naz and Schabs/Sciaves near Brixen/ Bressanone, where it is now possible to buy apples, plums and apricots from two new fruit vending machines – one on the village square in Natz and the other by the Putzerhof hotel and restaurant on the Pustertaler Straße main road in Schabs. The idea came from Klaus and Peter Überbacher, farmers at the Tschanggerhof farm in the nearby village of Raas/Rasa. Far from being ugly metal monstrosities, as is so often the case with drinks machines, the fruit vending machines are cladded in South Tyrolean larch wood. An apple costs 60 cents, 250 grams of strawberries 2 euros and 250 grams of raspberries 3 euros.

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A is for... Alpine Tales Autumn has its own charm in the mountains. Nature is generous, with fruits, nuts and other delicacies; once again it colours the landscape in rich hues before the pale winter approaches. The South Tyrolean “Alpine Tales” event series is the perfect way to experience the special atmosphere of this season. The events taking place at mountain lodges concentrate on everything that autumn has to offer and bring you closer to the issues that matter to local residents. At every hut, visitors have

the chance to immerse themselves in the world of farming – and, of course, to sample some local delicacies. You could end up discovering all you’ve always wanted to know about apples or herbs, or perhaps the focus will be on Watten, a traditional card game played in lodges and taverns across the region. Other topics and experiences include sunset hikes, local legends or life as a mountain farmer – don’t be too shy to join in! For more information on next year’s programme, please visit www.almgschichten.it

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More Water! More Light! And more awareness and heedfulness in the fight against climate change and water shortages. This – and the important role water has always played in Brixen/Bressanone – is what the Water Light Festival is all about. Featuring shows, art exhibitions and environmental campaigns on streets and squares across the town, the event has been held annually in May since 2017. In 2019, the “Ice Melting Ice” neon tubes art installation by Italian artist Stefano Cagol was positioned above the point where the Rienz river meets the Eisack river as a flashing warning: the ice caps are melting and water is becoming scarce – we must act now. www.brixen.org/waterlight

Love, Baby!

“You should find someone / You should find someone / You should find someone / you can love…” The fact that the two members of ANGER found each other literally brings music to our ears! With their sometimes dreamlike and sometimes brassy, poppy sound, they are currently taking the alternative scene by storm. ANGER is the

name of the band formed by Nora Pider and Julian Angerer from Brixen/Bressanone. They are a couple and a band – or a band and a couple. Either way, their formula seems to be working. Following on from their debut EP Liebe und Wut (Love and Anger, 2018), their single Baby made it to number 1 on the Austrian FM4 charts in 2019. They’ve known each other since childhood and used to perform together in the VonPiderZuHeiss theatre ensemble. They formed their band in Vienna in 2017, naming themselves after Julian’s surname and the street Nora grew up on in Brixen – Angerweg. Their debut album Heart/Break (Phat Penguin Records) was released in September 2019 and features ten songs, including Baby, All Over and Miami, with lyrics in a mixture of German, English and Italian. As the title suggests, the album deals with love and broken hearts. And it does so by breaking with traditional musical rules and genres, as well. www.weareanger.com

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A Perfect Set of Slopes

The Plose ski resort

1: Trametsch

2: Mitt erling

A Double Skier’s Paradise

Name: Trametsch Skiing area: Plose

est kilometres, it is the long Stand-out feature: At nine l Tyro th Sou in e ski slop is slope will draw you in!” What the locals say: “Th view over Highlight: the panoramic ne ano ress Brixen/B rs For: fit, experienced skie Not for: non-sporty people

y Fun m m i 3: G

Ride

Name:

Mitterl

ing

Skiing area: G itschbe rg Joch Standtal out fea ture: o n e What t o f th e steepe he loc als say st slop es in It : “It m Highlig akes y aly ht: a g our thig radien h s burn!” t of up For: da to 38 d redevil egrees s and p ros Not fo r: scare dy-cats

Gitschberg Jochtal ski & holiday area Number of slopes: 24 Number of lifts: 15 Kilometres of slopes: 55 km Highest point on the slopes: 2,510 m Ski lodges: 22 Toboggan runs: 3 Did you know? With its three children’s parks and day care service, Gitschberg Jochtal is one of the most popular family-friendly skiing areas in Italy.

n Ride

y Fu tal : Gimm lom g Joch Name ls, sla chber s it G : tunne a , e s r n r a u g t Skiin steep ature: e ut the -out fe to high fiv d n a t iring o s S at at t figure , re e g s r ’s t u co ay: “I cals s u the lo ive yo What !” they g n sy but a e – childre s e jump ght: th Highli s flie butter ily le fam e who t For: h oys r: killj Not fo

The Gitschberg Jochtal and Plose ski areas can be accessed with a single ticket: the “Gitschberg Jochtal – Brixen” multiple-day ski pass can be purchased in the ski areas’ ticketing offices.

4: Pfannspitz

www.gitschberg-jochtal.com

Plose ski resort

Name: Pfanns pitz Skiing area: Pl ose Stand-out feat ure: The slope can be blue, re black all at once d and – depending on which section choose to ski on (s) you . What the loca ls say: “It’s on e to try again an so you can giv d again e all the section s a go.” Highlight: the view of the Pe itlerkofel moun the top part, th tain from e tranquil turn s through the lower section forest in the For: skiers loo king for variety Not for: stick-in -the-muds

Number of slopes: 18 Number of lifts: 7 Kilometres of slopes: 42 km Highest point on the slopes: 2,505 m Ski lodges: 14 Toboggan runs: 2 Did you know? In 2019, a new black run awaits the most daring skiers. The descent starting at Pfannspitze peak is dedicated to the memory of former World Cup ski champion and skiing pioneer Erwin Stricker, and bears his nickname: Crazy Horse. www.plose.org

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Q&A with…

Johann Mantinger, 62, can slice speck more quickly than an entire football team can eat it.

Johann Mantinger, South Tyrol’s fastest speck slicer

Johann, what does it take to become the fastest speck slicer in the region? I participate in all sorts of competitions. Sometimes the judges are looking for precision and sometimes it only comes down to speed. Once I was up against 18 other competitors and was able to cut twice as many bite-sized portions as the runner-up. Another time, I competed against an entire male veterans football team from Cologne: I betted that I could slice five kilograms of speck faster than they could eat it. And I won!

even been interviewed by the BBC. Everyone calls me “Gletscher-Hans”, which means “Glacier Hans”. “Glacier Hans”? Why not “Speck Hans”? Because I used to be a ski instructor. One of my pupils found my name too difficult to remember so she renamed me “Glacier Hans”. And it’s stuck. The Italians call me “Giovanni del ghiacciaio”, which is the perfect translation of my German nickname!

Do you cure speck yourself? Of course I do! I’m a small-scale farmer with twenty pigs. Speck is my life, professionally and privately. I look A true speck connoisseur like after my piglets Johann has no need to use a cutas if they were my ting machine. All that’s required babies. I’ve actually is a sharp knife, a typical South become a bit of a Tyrolean speck board and lots of star. I’ve appeared muscle power! He cuts a piece on TV cooking of the cured ham, around three shows and have centimetres thick, lengthways from the joint, removes the rind and slices it as thinly as possible. If the speck is to be used to make traditional dumplings, it needs to be chopped into small cubes and not slices.

How he does it

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PR-INFO

Discover an Artist’s Town Shopping, indulgence, and culture in Klausen/Chiusa

Store opening hours + Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 12 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm Saturday 9 am to 12 pm www.klausen.it/shopping

Stadtmuseum (Klausen municipal museum) + The museum is open from the end of March through the beginning of November from Tuesday through Saturday, 9.30 am to 12 pm and 3.30 pm to 6 pm. The Stadtmuseum is closed on Sundays, Mondays, and public holidays. www.museumklausenchiusa.it

Medieval Christmas

Little Klausen, situated in the lower Eisacktal valley, was selected as one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia”, i. e. one of Italy’s most beautiful historic towns. The medieval flair of its alleys and striking town houses with their narrow, beautifully coloured façades has always been a magnet for artists and poets. The Säben Mountain towering over the valley is home to what was once one of the most important episcopal sees of Tyrol. Säben—now a Benedictine convent—as well as the Gothic churches in town, the Capuchian monastery, and the mighty Branzoll castle are testament to the town’s history as a mediaeval customs station. Approx. 2,500 people live in Klausen, nestled among a picturesque landscape of vineyards and chestnut groves that have seen centuries of active farming. The town was Albrecht Dürer’s source of inspiration for the copper engraving titled “The Great Fortune”, depicting the Greek goddess Nemesis balancing on a sphere over the town. In this modern day and age, numerous little owner-run shops and trendy independent boutiques attract shoppers to stroll along the historical old town streets. Check out the colourful flower vendors,

find traditional and modern craftwork, shop top-of-the-range women’s fashion, and explore native, regional, and fair-trade products. The inns situated alongside Klausens’s winding alleys have been around for centuries, serving guests back when the main road from the Brenner/ Brennero pass to the South still crossed right through the town. Today, the town inns offer plenty of home-made, traditional Alpine dishes from South Tyrol as well as Italian-Mediterranean specialities.

+ The Christmas market transports visitors back to the Middle Ages on all four Advent weekends from Friday to Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm

Every year, during the Medieval Christmas market, Klausen’s winding alleys and colourful historic town houses are bathed in candlelight.

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Beautiful Towns A u t h o r s

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J O S E F

G E L M I ,

M A R I A

G A L L

P R A D E R

Brixen/Bressanone and Klausen/Chiusa, each with a rich cultural heritage and an eventful past as well as vibrant art scenes and exciting culinary highlights, are two towns well worth a visit. Two odes – with insider tips on art, architecture and town life

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BRIXEN. THE MAGNIFICENT If I had my own ratings agency, I would give Brixen a triple A. I know the place very well, having lived here on and off since 1949. As President of Hofburg palace from 1998 to 2017, I was very much involved in town life. Now I’m delighted to be spending my retirement in this town, which I treasure so dearly and have written about so often. I love Brixen’s geographical location, healthy climate and illustrious history. But what fascinates me most is the mix of its ecclesiastical past, Austrian civilisation and Italian lifestyle. A symbolic figure for the coming together of German and Italian culture was the ingenious Prince Bishop of Brixen and Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (in office from 1450 to 1464), who was a strong advocate for peace between religions and cultures. Surrounded by imposing mountains, lush forests and picturesque vineyards, Brixen sits at the point where the Eisacktal valley widens into an expansive, fertile basin. It has always been a popular place to settle. The first people to lay down roots here arrived in the valley basin in around 8,000 BC. They were followed by the bishops living on the Säben mountain above Klausen, who, under Bishop Albuin, moved their seat here in around 990 after the Prihsna farmstead (which later became Brixen) was gifted to them in 901. However, the true turning point for Brixen came in 1027 when, in an effort to secure the important Brenner road, Emperor Conrad II granted the county of Eisack and Inn to Bishop Hartwig. From this moment on, Brixen continued to grow in importance. In 1048, the Bishop of Brixen (Poppo) was even elevated to Pope and enthroned as Damasus II. Emperor Frederick I awarded the bishops of Brixen the right to impose taxes, collect tolls and mint coins in 1179. From then on, they became prince bishops of the Holy Roman Empire and had a seat and voice in the Empire’s deliberative body, the Imperial Diet. Brixen was made the capital of an ecclesiastical principality, a position it retained until secularisation in 1803.

the 18th century. During this time, Prince Bishop Kaspar Ignaz von Künigl (in office from 1702 to 1747) and Prince Bishop Leopold von Spaur (in office from 1747 to 1778) turned the medieval town into a baroque jewel, commissioning major works by famous architects and painters. I’m in total awe of what they achieved. Hofburg palace was completed in 1711, St. Joseph’s church in 1745, the new cathedral in 1754, the prince bishops’ Herrengarten palace garden in 1756 and the renovation of the parish church in 1758. Work also began on constructing the Seminary with its church and library hall in 1765. The library is particularly interesting, as together with the seminary church it is arguably the best example of rococo architecture in Brixen. Franz Anton Zeiller painted the frescoes on the six trompe l’oeil domes, which depict various theological subjects. The most noteworthy shows Jerome sitting on a lion with a ferocious face resembling that of the prince bishop at the time, Leopold von Spaur. Rumour has it that this was the artist’s way of gaining revenge for his poor pay. Be that as it may, the wondrous foresight of these two prince bishops of Brixen has, without doubt, made the town what it is today. In the 20th century, there was a real push towards modernisation. This was driven by Mayor Otto von Guggenberg, who was the first to encourage tourism to the area. The annexation of South Tyrol to Italy in 1919, followed by fascism, the South Tyrol Option Agreement – when South Tyroleans were forced to choose between emigrating to Nazi Germany or

Brixen’s transformation from a magnificent episcopal see into a holiday destination began in the 19th century. The 1 Rappanlagen, a park located at the point where the Eisack river meets the Rienz river, was created in 1883.

Following a period of decline during the Reformation, the town saw a frenzy of building activity in

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3 places for culture lovers in Brixen

A FRESH TAKE ON ART Following its refurbishment in 2019, the Stadtgalerie municipal gallery in the Große Lauben arcade is changing direction to focus on contemporary art from 2020 under the management of the South Tyrolean Artists Association. To mark the start of this new era, the space has been flooded with water and turned into a koi pond by the artist collective Butch-ennial. The gallery holds four to five exhibitions with alternating curators each year.

SMALL TOWN, BIG SOUNDS The Forum Cultur series presents regular classical and contemporary concerts, operas and theatrical shows at the Forum Brixen cultural and congress centre. Audiences can also enjoy a unique atmosphere at the outstanding classical concerts performed in Brixen cathedral as part of the Musik und Kirche (Music and Church) series. www.forum-brixen.com www.musik-kirche.it

www.kuenstlerbund.org

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Visitors to the cathedral’s cloister should not miss the strange elephant fresco. The artist had never seen an elephant before so had to use his imagination when painting the animal and its trunk.

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2 CELLAR OR PRISON? The intentionally ironically named Dekadenz, or Decadence, venue is one of South Tyrol’s four municipal theatres. Located in the Anreiterkeller, a historic coal and wine cellar, it hosts smallscale theatre, cabaret and jazz performances. In summer, Brixen’s theatre and music fans flock to the Tschumpus open-air theatre situated right next to the cathedral in the courtyard of the town’s former prison. www.dekadenz.it www.tschumpus.com


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remaining in Fascist Italy – and National Socialism brought great upheaval. However, after the Second World War, Brixen enjoyed a period of economic and cultural recovery under Mayor Zeno Giacomuzzi between 1969 and 1988. Like me, Giacomuzzi, whom I know personally and hold in very high regard, comes from Fiemme Valley. This makes us both Brixen locals with a “migrant background”, so to speak. Giacomuzzi did outstanding work developing the town during his period in office. We have him to thank for the school, sport and industrial areas as well as the Zinggen-Rosslauf residential area. Hardly any other town can boast so many brilliant works of art from the Romanesque period to the modern day in such a small area. The Domplatz or cathedral square, which is one of the most beautiful squares in the Alps, connects the historical cathedral quarter in the east to the unparalleled Hofburg palace complex in the west. Located on the southern side of the cathedral is the 4 Cloister, a true jewel in the town’s crown, which has been compared to the Campo Santo in Pisa but on a smaller scale. During tours, I always like to point out the elephant with the trumpet – a curious fresco painted by well-known artist Leonhard von Brixen (in around 1450), who had evidently never seen an elephant before. In fact, it was not until 1551 that an actual elephant, called Soliman, came to the town. A painting commemorating this spectacle can still be seen at Hotel Elephant today. A fantastic light show inspired by this event has also taken place in the Hofburg palace’s central courtyard in recent years. One of Brixen’s most stunning architectural triumphs is 5 Hofburg palace, including the Diocesan Museum, which houses one of the best collections of art between Verona and Munich. One of the museum’s many highlights is a panel painting of the Man of Sorrows dating from 1450 and attributed to Jos Amann von Ravensburg. In 2015, the prominent Milan-based professor and lawyer Alberto Crespi, a

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Hofburg palace in the heart of Brixen is home to the Diocesan Museum, one of the most beautiful collections of religious art between Munich and Verona.

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true music and art lover, friend of Brixen and admirer of German culture, contacted me to ask whether the Hofburg would be interested in accepting the painting as a gift. I was aware that the work of art was extraordinarily valuable so I first enquired whether there were any conditions attached should the palace accept the offer. The painting shows Jesus as the Man of Sorrows flanked by Saint Ambrose, the patron saint of the diocese of Milan, and Augustine, who was baptised by Ambrose in Milan. Above this trio is some intricate tracery with a gilded background. God the Father and the Holy Spirit are depicted in the form of a dove in the middle of the piece. The halo around the dove is the coat of arms of the famous Visconti family from Milan. The painting originates from the Saint Ambrose church in Brugherio near Milan and came

The Alte Schlachthof and Decantei are now popular restaurants, but their walls still show evidence of their respective pasts as a slaughterhouse or seat of the cathedral’s dean.

3 places for foodies in Brixen 3 DECANTEI Tucked behind Brixen cathedral surrounded by high walls, the Decantei was the official seat of the cathedral’s dean during the Middle Ages. Today, this historical building, once home to bishops, has been converted into a restaurant serving fresh twists on regional cuisine accompanied by excellent beer. Featuring two cosy courtyards and simple, understated interior design by Pedevilla Architects, it is a place for food and architecture lovers alike.

BRIX 0.1 A popular place for locals to brunch and parents with small children to spend afternoons on the terrace, transforming into a beautifully lit gourmet restaurant at night, brix 0.1 is located in a futuristic building resembling a glass cube in a small park in the south of Brixen. The innovative haute cuisine created by Ivo Messner and Philipp Fallmerayer is talked of even beyond South Tyrol’s borders.

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6 ALTER SCHLACHTHOF The white tiled walls and iron beams on the ceiling are a reminder of how this building was once used as a slaughterhouse. It has since reinvented itself as Brixen’s living room and is particularly popular with the town’s young residents. It is still known for meat – its popular burgers feature locally sourced pulled pork or venison – as well as vegetarian dishes and live music by local bands.

www.brix01.com www.schlachthof.it

www.decantei.it

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into the possession of Milan antique dealer Ruggero Longari before being acquired by Crespi. Due to its subject matter, the painting was intended to be displayed in the Diocesan Museum of Milan. However, since Crespi had already donated a number of works to this museum and had not received much thanks from church leaders, he decided that he wanted to give this piece to either the Hofburg or the Augustinian Canons’ Monastery in Neustift/ Novacella to the north of Brixen. I worked extremely hard to make all the necessary arrangements to secure the painting for the Hofburg. Many letters and phone calls later, it was finally ours. On 9 June 2016, I travelled to Milan with the director of the Diocesan Museum, Johann Kronbichler. After completing all the legal formalities and packaging it securely, we loaded the painting into a delivery van hired especially for the occasion. But at that very moment, the heavens opened and it began to rain heavily across Milan. I thought to myself that the city must be crying for its bitter loss. It carried on raining – right until we approached Brixen, when it finally stopped and the

skies cleared. Now heaven was smiling with us. That very day, the Gothic masterpiece was given pride of place in the Hofburg. The local press and prominent Italian newspapers like La Repubblica and L’Osservatore Romano covered the event. In October, I visited Professor Crespi in Milan again to thank him once more for his generous gift, this time accompanied by Mayor Peter Brunner and a delegation from Brixen. I always end my tours of Brixen at one of my favourite spots – in front of the Tourism Association’s new building. From here, you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the town and clearly see how it has changed over the centuries. The particularly successful redevelopment of the Kleiner Graben street and part of the Regensburger Allee street has made this area an even more fascinating place to visit. Look to the north and on the right you can see the Kreuztor gate, which dates from the Middle Ages and has been altered many times over the years. The parallel gate sitting alongside it was added at the start of the 20th century. This is followed by a section of the historical town wall from the 13th century. Behind this is the 7 Herrengarten palace garden, which Coadjutor and later Prince Bishop Johann Thomas von Spaur had laid out in the Renaissance style in 1570. The gardens were reopened to the pub-

My top 5 places in Brixen Artist AliPaloma tells us about her home town The medieval district of 8 Stufels/Stufles, my all-time favourite place in Brixen. I create my designs here in Atelier 18, an office I share with my co-workers, the director Lorenz Klapfer and the actress Petra Rohregger. Stufels is the creative heart of Brixen and there are other studios just round the corner from ours, including that of artist Hartwig Thaler.

Born in 1992, AliPaloma works as a freelance artist in Innsbruck and Brixen. She creates a diverse range of works and her most recently exhibited pieces include “Unter die Haut” (“Under Your Skin”, Hofburg, Brixen), “Allein im Schwarm” (“Alone in the Swarm”, Space Nouvelle, Innsbruck) and “Born to Kill” (50x50x50 ART Südtirol, Franzensfeste fortress). From 8 November 2019, her works are on display as part of the “economy goes culture” joint exhibition in Brixen’s municipal gallery.

The Anreiterkeller cellar, the home of 9 Dekadenz theatre and its cultural programme. Last summer, I designed the set for Dekadenz’s in-house production “Discussion about the Pumpkins” by Jakob Nolte.

www.alipaloma.com Brixen’s oldest quarter, Stufels, hosts a number of artists’ studios, including AliPaloma’s (in the background of the photo). T H E L O C A L M AG A Z I N E

The new access to the Eisack river on the footpath from Brixen towards Neustift/Novacella. It’s the perfect place for soaking up some late summer sunshine, dipping your feet in the ice-cold water and topping up on some vitamin D before winter sets in. The farmers’ market on Hartmannplatz square on a Saturday morning. Here you can buy an array of vegetables, cheese, eggs and other farm produce from the Eisacktal valley

and stock up on local delicacies for the weekend. Don’t miss the trout stall – and, of course, the fresh Tirtln fried pastries, stuffed with spinach or cabbage. Whenever I’m lacking inspiration, I take a stroll through Brixen’s cloister. It’s such a blissfully peaceful place that all you can hear are the tweets of the birds nesting in the Gothic arches.


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lic in 1992 after being restored based on plans from 1831. If you look up, you can see the cathedral’s baroque towers. In front of the old town wall is a smaller wall built in the art nouveau style. A particularly eye-catching feature is the classical lion fountain, which is also a source of fresh water. During the Water Light Festival in May 2019, an artistic production gave visitors the chance to find out how to make the lion roar. Behind the wall, you can see the west wing of the Hofburg, which was commissioned by Prince Bishop Kaspar Ignaz von Künigl in 1711, and the Hofburg chapel’s charming turret. Cast your gaze further and your eyes fall on Kassianstraße street and the old wall of the Hofburg garden, which was first referenced in 1265. Finally, in the distance, on the eastern slope of Brixen’s valley basin, you can glimpse the village of Milland/Millan with its parish church of Maria am Sand, which was built in 1464. Designed by Brixen architect Matteo Scagnol, the Brixen Tourism Association’s new office was constructed in 2018 on the former site of a war memorial and later of the Tourism Association’s old pavilion, which was designed by another famous Brixen architect, Othmar Barth. The new building’s dynamic and futuristic lines still amaze me every time I see it. Scagnol’s objective was to create a meeting place where people could enjoy a captivating view of the Hofburg. A key element of the design is the huge tree, which “looks both back to the past and towards the future” and seems to frame the building. Situated diagonally opposite the Tourism Association’s new premises, the building housing the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano’s Faculty of Education, constructed in 2004, with its four-storey, glass structure, is reminiscent of the Hofburg. It, too, forms an interesting contrast to the town’s historical centre.

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The author

Brixen has been an important spiritual and cultural centre for South Tyrol for the last thousand years. May the town keep moving forward, continue to grow in cultural diversity and – however much it cherishes its traditions – have the courage to let go of the old and embrace the new. 8

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Prof. Dr. Josef Gelmi was born in Cavalese in northern Italy in 1937. After studying philosophy and theology in Brixen and church history and history in Rome, he went on to work as a professor of church and diocesan history at the Philosophical-theological Academy Brixen from 1973 to 2007. He was president of Hofburg palace and its Diocesan Museum and Diocesan Archive in Brixen from 1998 to 2017 and has written numerous publications on the papal and church history of Tyrol. In 1996, he was awarded the Walther von der Vogelweide prize and in 2001 was presented with the Badge of Honour of the State of Tyrol and the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class. In 2009, he received the Medal of Honour from the Town of Brixen, before being named honorary canon of Brixen cathedral in 2016 and receiving the Medal of Merit from the Diocese of Bolzano-Brixen in 2017.

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KLAUSEN. T H E A RT I STS ’ TOWN Klausen’s fascinating history as an artists’ colony is rich enough to fill an entire book. If a tour guide tried to cover all aspects in detail, they wouldn’t have any time at all to show visitors the old town with its enchanting little corners and sleepy side streets. To discover more about this part of Klausen’s past, let’s first head to the former Lamplsaal hall, which today serves as a council hall and provides a fitting setting for civil wedding ceremonies and other celebrations. In 1874, kind-hearted landlord Georg Kantioler renamed the hall “Walthersaal” in a bid to attract more custom. And despite the unmissable slogan on the wall declaring “Anyone who drinks too much has not drunk well”, artists like Alexander Köster, Franz v. Defregger, Alois Gabl, Mathias Schmid and Robert Ruß certainly did spend many a jolly evening here. The names of many artists whose works can be admired in the Alte Pinakothek art museum in Munich appear in the famous guestbook of the former Gasthof zum Lamm inn. The most loyal guest was probably Ernst Lösch, an illustrator and comedian from Nuremberg who wrote two short books about Klausen’s charming yet curious inhabitants. The Walthersaal is a true gem. The hall has been renovated twice but today it still looks like it did 150 years ago when Ernst Lösch and Charles Palmié painted it with their friends. With the exception of

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The houses in the upper town are nestled against the rocks on which Säben Abbey sits. Their gardens are accessible via the attic!


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a few practical compromises to bring it in line with modern requirements, very little has changed. Even the imposing chandelier made from an iron cart wheel still hangs from the ceiling, complete with the decoratively painted cardboard stuck to it. This is a relic from a high-spirited artistic gathering one cheerful (and wine-fuelled) weekend, when Palmié and his friends turned the hall into a romantic wine lounge before the landlord could stop them. Lösch later recounted that poor Kantioler was not amused upon seeing what the painters had done to his inn. However, Lösch reported that the landlord “unwrinkled his forehead” when he noticed that the merry band of painters were taking a childish delight in their work.

in nearby Lajen-Ried/Laion-Novale, his academic articles and strong personality attracted all manner of artists from Germany and Austria to the Eisacktal valley. They arrived on the newly constructed railway and, on disembarking, discovered a small, sleepy, medieval town that felt in tune with their romantic spirit: Klausen. A place where time seemed to stand still. A place where artists, writers, sculptors and researchers would return every summer and inspire each other’s creativity. A place where, if they grew weary of the idyllic surroundings and tranquillity, all they had to do was catch the next train from the station near the Krone inn and head for the hustle and bustle of city life once more.

The Lamplsaal was not the only artists’ tavern in Klausen at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century. Other popular artist haunts included the Gothic wine bar in Mondschein, the Gallmetzer studio on Pfarrplatz square, the Rauterstube (the famous Klausen Batznhäusl inn in Kreuz), the zur Post inn, the Rabensteiner studio and the Köster studio in Griesbruck. While little evidence remains of these former artists’ taverns, in today’s Walthersaal there is a painting commemorating troubadour Walther von der Vogelweide. It is also thanks to him that Klausen found sudden fame in the late 19th century. When Innsbruck-based professor Ignaz Vinzenz v. Zingerle (along with several other researchers) announced that he believed he had found the troubadour’s birthplace at Innervogelweiderhof farm

The "Kunst boden_nah" project invites young artists to live and work in Klausen. What they leave behind is a series of artworks in public places, and perhaps a few broadened horizons as well.

Both the art scene and tavern culture flourished in Klausen at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century when artists like Ernst Lösch and Charles Palmié enjoyed socialising and drinking in the town’s inns.

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3 culinary and cultural highlights in Klausen 10 KUNST BODEN_NAH This contemporary art project describes itself as a “gallery concept that is not tied to any particular place”. International artists are invited to live and work in Klausen as resident artists, where they exhibit their works in empty business premises and public places in return for board and lodging. Three young artists are due to take part in 2020 (exhibition: 7–14 August 2020).

11 GASSLBRÄU Klausen’s old town is home to one of eight brewery taverns found in South Tyrol. Here Norbert Andergassen brews pale, dark and wheat beer in accordance with German purity requirements, as well as creative seasonal craft beer varieties, such as the popular chestnut beer. The tavern also serves excellent food.

GOLDENE ROSE In the “Golden Rose”, the town’s oldest inn, patrons can dine just like Klausen’s legendary artist community once did. Dishes from this period, such as tripe and cod hash, are prepared on an old wooden stove. The naturally ventilated, chic stone cellar is an ideal location to enjoy a cigar and some gin.

www.gassl-braeu.it

www.goldene-rose.it

www.kunstbodennah.it

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After the First World War, the art colony’s star suddenly faded. In recent years, however, Klausen has been stepping up its efforts to revive its artistic past through special exhibitions at its municipal museum, the Artists in Residence initiative, partnerships with other artist towns and cities and the Kunst boden_nah art project, which creates closer links between artists and the public. Today, a surprising phenomenon is emerging: thanks to Sonya Hofer and Astrid Gamper, Klausen now has a strong female artist scene. Both artists focus on very profound subject matters. Layer by tiny layer, Astrid Gamper covers the female body and partly exposes it again – her intensive creative process of building up and removing layers revealing how women are both vulnerable and strong. Sonya Hofer is currently experimenting with clay and shells as the symbol of the origin of life.

Located in the former Capuchin monastery with its peaceful inner courtyard, Klausen’s Stadtmuseum or municipal museum holds temporary exhibitions that are inspired by the town’s past as an artists’ colony.

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It is now time for us to leave the Lamplsaal and look up at the beautiful old inn sign as we do. Colourful 12 iron inn signs can still be found all over Klausen, even on buildings that have long since ceased to be taverns, such as the Mondschein, Grauer Bär and Weißes Rössl. On the opposite side of the street is the Walther von der Vogelweide inn with its striking crenelated roofline, which was first mentioned as a tavern and bathhouse for wealthy citizens in the Middle Ages. Once called the Löwenwirtshaus, it was renamed after being purchased by the Lamplsaal’s landlord, Kantioler. Its beautiful front façade facing the Eisack river is adorned with a fresco depicting the very same troubadour who gave it its name. The inn was famous for its Mediterranean “Walther” garden, which extended all the way to the Eisack and became a relaxing place for artists to meet. Today, the “Vogelweide”, as Klausen residents affectionately call it, is known for its spectacular terrace. Its young manager, Simon Rabensteiner, is also in the final stages of converting the rooms into a small art hotel. Walking southwards down the long, narrow cobbled street through the upper town, we reach a green building on our left, which at just under three metres wide is the narrowest house in Klausen. Its 100 square metres of living space are spread across five storeys and it also features a stone cellar. If you walk down to the Eisack river via the nearby Tränkgasse lane, you can see the small garden belonging to the house – a gravelly, rectangular patch with an old pear tree that provides shade in summer.

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All the houses in the upper town have gardens. In the houses facing the Eisack the garden is accessible via the cellar, while in those facing Säben mountain, it is accessible via the attic! The houses in Klausen’s old town are built on an incline. They seem to be pressing themselves against the rocky Säben mountainside as if they are trying to protect themselves from the Eisack river, which puts them at regular risk of flooding. The town’s Italian citizens have coined the expression “the secret gardens of Klausen” to describe the gardens facing Säben mountain because although hardly visible, they offer magnificent views. Let’s return now to the narrow street through the old town, which throughout history 66 German kings and emperors as well as countless merchants and pilgrims have travelled along on their journey south. Balconies were prohibited along this bottleneck, along which everyone who ventured over the Brenner pass by carriage had to trundle. To make up for this, each house has bay windows to let in light and to allow occupants to look out at (or, in some cases, monitor) the entire street. The houses in the upper and lower town are painted in a beautiful array of colours, creating a gentle sea of pastel tones, which are stipulated by a municipal colour committee. Any →

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Today, women have a strong influence on Klausen’s art scene. Pictured: Sonya Hofer’s 2018 portrait of the abbess of Säben Abbey, Marcellina Pustet, as well as a piece from Astrid Gamper’s 2018 series “Hüllen” (“Layers”), in which she attempts to portray women as both vulnerable and strong.

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Two Artists Astrid Gamper and Sonya Hofer on their town “We love the tranquillity, nature and culture in Klausen. Thanks to modern means of communication, we as artists feel connected to the entire world even from a town as small as this.” 13 Born in 1971, Astrid Gamper studied graphic and fashion design and has been working in her studio in Klausen since 2000. Most recent exhibition: “Unter die Haut” (“Under Your Skin”, Stadtmuseum Klausen).

“One of our favourite cultural highlights in Klausen is the Stadtmuseum. This municipal museum organises five special exhibitions a year, showcasing a wide range of contemporary art.” 14 Born in 1948, Sonya Hofer lives and works in Klausen as a freelance artist, portrait painter and art educator. Most recent exhibition: “Schalen” (“Shells”, 50x50x50 ART Südtirol, Franzensfeste fortress).

The pair launched the “ars sacra – Kunst und Kirche im Heute” (“ars sacra – Art and the Church Today”) project in Klausen in 2018. www.astridgamper.com www.sonyahofer.it

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home owners wishing to carry out alterations are subject to very strict conditions. Almost all the houses in the old town have nevertheless been lovingly refurbished and together create a beautiful picture. They are so close together that in 1867 a German travel reporter wrote that a tall barber with “particularly long arms” could easily shave the beard of the person living opposite by reaching through the windows. Today, this close proximity is used to bring the place to life by hanging colourful decorations, such as umbrellas or flags, on a rope that criss-crosses the street. Back on ground level, small, enticing shops offer a warm welcome and personal service from friendly owners who love to chat to passers-by. The black door on the magnificently whitewashed house in the middle of the upper town is particularly remarkable, as it owes its deep black colour to the stain added by the owners for protective purposes. Two coats of arms on the door indicate how this building once belonged to the bishop, before being given to the town to serve as the town hall and school house. The key tilted to the left in Klausen’s coat of arms symbolises that the town’s gates open for those who have paid their tolls, but remain closed to those who have not. With a lamb and cross in its flag, the other coat of arms represents the bishop of Brixen, to whom Klausen was directly subject until secularisation in 1803. This is also strikingly portrayed by the colourful frescoes with the bishop’s coats of arms on the toll house near the Brixner Tor gate.

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The buildings in the upper town are steeped in history. Examples include the town hall connected to the Church of the Apostles; the school, which was converted from three former houses in 1912; the Neustift’sche Haus, which served as the zum Schlüssel inn in around 1900; the Altlöwenhaus with its painted coats of arms and arched doors; the Frühmesnerhaus, which has recently been renovated by the Rabensteiner family; the old courthouse, which once belonged to the nobles from Villanders/Villandro; and the Brunnerhaus with its elaborate wooden front door. They all have exciting stories to tell. However, the upper town is about much more than its past. Alongside shopkeepers and restaurateurs, craftspeople still continue their traditional trades here – from Gretl Mair the goldsmith and Nora Delmonego the young shoemaker to Hermann Plieger the decorative metalworker. Taking a stroll through Klausen’s old town means following in the footsteps of the members of the artists’ colony who fell in love with the enchanting allure of its medieval buildings and its charming people at first sight.

Balconies were prohibited on the narrow street through Klausen’s old town which every carriage once had to pass along on its way through the valley. To make up for this, each of the pastel-coloured houses has bay windows to let in light and give its occupants a good view of the street.

The author Born in 1955, Maria Gall Prader studied educational sciences and German as a foreign language, before completing a research doctorate in general education, didactics and social pedagogy. She works as a lecturer, research fellow, tour guide and writer. Her most recent publication is Klausen gestern und heit – 30 bsundere Leit (“Klausen Yesterday and Today – 30 Characters”), published by Athesia.


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Getting into the Christmas spirit The BRIXEN Christmas Market on the cathedral square is one of the most festive in South Tyrol. The small wooden huts sell a variety of local crafts and culinary specialities. The light artists from Spectaculaires lend some added sparkle to the dark winter months, bringing Hofburg palace to life with their colourful light and music show running from late November to early January With its torchlit streets, jugglers and fire-breathers entertaining the crowds in the old town and alphorns playing traditional Alpine songs, the Medieval Christmas in KLAUSEN transports visitors back in time. Even the market stall holders selling artisan products are dressed in historical clothes made of velvet and wool. www.brixen.org www.klausen.it

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A Quiet Wonderland Together, the Rodenecker Alm and LĂźsner Alm Alpine pastures form one of the largest high-altitude pastures in Europe, spanning 20 square kilometres. Located at 1,800 to 2,300Â metres above sea level, in winter they boast 50 kilometres of cross-country skiing trails. They are also ideal for snowshoeing, ski touring and tobogganing and offer spectacular views across the Dolomites, Sarntal Alps, Zillertal Alps, Rieserferner Group and High Tauern.

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How I Discovered a Slower Pace to Life Our author was a passionate skier through and through. That was until, somewhat reluctantly, she gave snowshoe hiking a go – and fell in love all over again. T e x t

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ome of my friends want to go snowshoe hiking and invite me to come along with them. Snowshoe hiking? I know that’s what some people like to do. After all, we live in a free country. Word on the street is there are also people who go out walking – or Nordic walking, to give it its proper name – through the forest with poles instead of just going for a jog. But snowshoeing? That’s not for me, I think to myself. “Sorry, but I’m a skier,” I say to my friends. I used to race and once, when I was little, I even came second in a slalom competition. I’ve got a photo of myself proudly lifting up a trophy almost as big as I am. Skiing is in my blood. My parents were skiers as were my grandparents before them. Skiing is my everything, my one true love. There’s hardly anything I delight in more than speeding downhill. Why should I torture myself battling uphill? But my friends give me no choice and drag me out with them. At least snowshoes no longer look like tennis rackets these days, I think to myself as I put a pair on and tighten the straps. They are as light as a feather, actually. Much better than the heavy monstrosities I had imagined. Then suddenly we’re off. Or rather, everyone else is. I trip – and land flat on my face in the snow. “Oh look, our skier,” my friends call out, bursting into laughter. You just wait. My competitive streak comes out and I start to follow them. At first I’m afraid that I’ll get the contraptions under my feet stuck on a tree root hidden under the snow. But I don’t, and soon end up getting into the swing of it. The slope is getting steeper and I can hear the rhythmic crunching of my steps in the snow intermingled with my heavy yet even breathing and my heart beating. Before I know it, snowshoe hiking turns into a type of meditation. I’m enjoying travelling at a slower pace. Me, the former racer! As we climb above the tree line, an endless, glistening blanket of snow stretches before us. I briefly take off my sunglasses and am dazzled by the winter sun, the bright light making my squinting eyes water. It’s not long before we reach the lonely mountain hut. It’s so serene up here without the whirring ski lifts and crowds of people. I notice how hungry I am. I never would have thought that snowshoeing could be so strenuous yet fulfilling at the same time. My rumbling stomach is the only thing disturbing the peace and quiet. We unpack our speck sandwiches and our thermos flasks of tea. When I unstrap my snowshoes, I keep padding along shakily and clumsily. “What shall we do next weekend?” ask my friends. I mull it over. Perhaps it’s time for a new passion. Or at least a second one alongside skiing. “Next weekend? Snowshoe hiking, of course,” I say, raising a toast to everyone with the cap of my thermos flask.

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Skiing? A Treat for All the Senses In the skiing areas Gitschberg Jochtal and Plose, skiing is just the tip of the iceberg – there’s plenty to enjoy off piste as well! We show you ten ski lodges worth a visit

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Rossalm lodge A night on the mountain

As the final visitors put on their skis in preparation for their descent into the valley, we’re leaning ours up against the lodge wall. We won’t be needing them again tonight because we’re staying up here – in the heart of the Plose skiing area. Wrapped in fluffy bathrobes, we make our way across the snow to the hot tub. Lying back in the water heated to 40 degrees sipping on a glass of Franciacorta Rosé, we enjoy the sensation of the evening sun’s rays on our face, surrounded by the unfamiliar yet pleasant silence of the mountain. We move into the sauna cabin, where we gaze out through the window at the white Alpine landscape gleaming in the twilight. For dinner, we are served a five-course meal accompanied by a selection of South Tyrolean wine. After the last mouthful of mint panna cotta, we roll into bed fit to burst and stare out at the night sky for a while, before falling into the kind of deep sleep only possible in the mountains. The next morning, we step onto the deserted terrace cradling a cappuccino, breathe in the crisp winter air and look forward to being the first to speed down the slope.

Altitude: 2,180 m Skiing area: Plose Valley station: Plose gondola lift, Seilbahnstraße 17, 39042 St. Andrä/S. Andrea (Brixen/Bressanone) Slopes: Pfannspitz, Familienabfahrt (Family Slope) www.rossalm.com

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Gitschhütte lodge A paradise for foodies

As we enter Gitschhütte, we are greeted by an understated, modern wooden interior with carefully folded napkins and elegant wine glasses arranged on the tables. Manager and head chef Meinrad Unterkircher deliberately chose to break away from what you would traditionally expect from a South Tyrolean lodge. Instead, the focus is on gourmet cuisine featuring lots of high-quality local produce. Back in the 1970s, the lodge only served sandwiches and hot dogs but today something much

more refined awaits us. We are offered spicy black polenta dumplings, a creamy risotto with local grey cheese and spaghetti allo scoglio. Seafood pasta at an altitude of 2,200 metres? That’s virtually unheard of! For dessert, the waitress presents us with a mild crème pâtissière with a raspberry sauce and a deliciously moist apple strudel. To round off our meal, Meinrad pours us the traditional complimentary shot of schnapps – he may have a penchant for fine dining but he’s still a South Tyrolean at heart!

Altitude: 2,210 m Skiing area: Gitschberg Valley station: Gitschberg gondola lift, Mitterecker Straße 16, 39037 Meransen/ Maranza (Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria) Slopes: Gitsch, Breiteben, Kanonenrohr www.gitschhuette.com

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Trametschhütte lodge Fun for all the family

Whether on skis, on foot or even by toboggan, there are many ways to reach Trametschhütte. The RudiRun toboggan run ends almost on the lodge’s doorstep, and sleds occupied by parents concentrating intently on the route ahead sat behind children screeching excitedly can be seen whooshing out of the forest. Small children spring off their sleds, rushing towards the giant wooden elk guarding the play area. Our little ones, who are already proficient skiers, watch the children with an air of superiority about them as they slickly remove their skis – proud of having made it all the way down the nine kilometre Trametsch slope. It’s not long, however, before they too are drawn in by the magnetic pull of the adventure playground. And when our food arrives, we have trouble tearing them away from the climbing tree and Flocki the lodge dog. One glance at their chips and burgers –

made with meat sourced from the lodge’s own farm – and they forget what all the fuss was about. Our tender beef tagliata also gives us no cause to complain, but, with our stomachs full of delicious food, it does give us the perfect excuse to retreat to the natural wooden loungers on the terrace. The children have long since reclaimed the climbing tree and can be heard shrieking happily.

Altitude: 1,110 m Skiing area: Plose Valley station: Plose gondola lift, Seilbahnstraße 17, 39042 St. Andrä/S. Andrea (Brixen/Bressanone) Slope: Trametsch, RudiRun toboggan run www.trametsch-huette.com

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Altitude: 2,008 m Skiing area: Jochtal Valley station: Jochtal gondola lift, Jochtalstraße 1, 39037 Vals/Valles (Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria) Slopes: Talabfahrt, Mitterling, Jöchl Website: www.jochtal.info

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Anratterhütte lodge A dumpling marathon

We first spot the Anratterhütte’s wood shingle roof from afar as we ski along a wide, winding slope on the mountainside. As we knock the snow off our ski boots, the heat from the wood-fired stove beckons us in. By a stroke of luck we manage to secure the table right next to it, its white dome soon warming us up. We don’t even need to look at the menu to know that we’ll be eating Knödel, the traditional South Tyrolean bread dumplings. What else could we possibly choose in a restaurant that proudly serves 15 varieties of them? We order a classic combination of speck, cheese and spinach dumplings and – prompted by the food envy we feel when we catch a whiff of the delicious aroma coming from the neighbouring table – a few nougat dumplings for dessert. We hardly say a word to each other once the lodge manager has

Altitude: 1,824 m Skiing area: Jochtal Valley station: Jochtal gondola lift, Jochtalstraße 1, 39037 Vals/Valles (Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria) Slopes: Hinterberg, Seepiste www.anratterhof.info

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served us our dumplings. As is so often the case when eating delicious food, the silence speaks for itself. After wiping the crumbs from the nougat dumplings from the corners of our mouth, we wonder if we would be allowed to lay down flat on our backs next to the stove, to rest our stuffed bellies for a moment before returning to the slopes.

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Jochtal mountain restaurant For night owls

It may seem counterproductive to walk up a slope instead of racing down one. But it’s no coincidence that so many locals pack their touring skis into the car and drive into the mountains after a long day in the office – and we too can’t imagine a better way of gaining some all-important work/life balance. With the daytime skiers already settling into an evening of relaxing in the sauna, hotel bar or on the couch, as dusk falls we start heading straight up the slope. Like every Tuesday evening, the almost four kilometre downhill run is reserved for ski tourers and snowshoe walkers. There are no snow groomers in operation and we don’t need to venture off-piste, which means we are perfectly safe here. Sticking to the edge of the slope, we place one foot in front of the other and soon break into a sweat despite the chilly evening. The climbing skins under our skis lend us grip as we continue our way upwards. Surrounded by the dark forest, we feel a sense of calm wash over us, a stillness that can only be found on the mountains on a winter’s night. As we continue, we can’t wait for our efforts to be rewarded with a large beer and fried eggs with speck and potatoes in Bergrestaurant Jochtal. We might even get into the spirit of things at the Dance of the Vampires party with rotating DJs all the way through to 11:30pm. And then – to top off the evening – we’ll enjoy our descent, guided only by the cone of light shining from our headlamps.


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La Finestra mountain restaurant Aperitivo at 2,000 metres

We were planning to make the most of the mild winter weather by carving a few turns in the snow, but when we hop off the gondola lift, our gaze is drawn not only to the striking “Plose” lettering with the gigantic “O”, but also to the popular La Finestra terrace bar with its tempting bottles of sparkling wine in brightly polished ice buckets. Aperol spritz glasses glisten in the bright sunshine and speck sits alongside marinated artichokes, blurring the boundaries between the Alpine and the Mediterranean at 2,050 metres above sea level. Locals greet each other, the bartender pops another cork and, as the first lunchtime guests clack their way across the terrace, their faces red from the wind, we give in to temptation and order

a trio of dumplings with coleslaw or, as the menu says, “a Fenschter volla Knödl” or “a window of dumplings”. As it arrives, served attractively on a small wooden board resembling a window, we find that almost all thoughts of skiing have slipped our minds.

Altitude: 2,050 m Skiing area: Plose Valley station: Plose gondola lift, Seilbahnstraße 17, 39042 St. Andrä/S. Andrea (Brixen/Bressanone) Slopes: Plose, Trametsch www.lafinestra-plose.com

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7 P3 lodge

Party! Party! Party!

As we carve our last turns in the snow on the Trametsch slope late in the afternoon, we can already hear from afar why the “P” in P3 stands not only for “Plose” but above all for “party”. We take off our skis and order a well-deserved Hugo – an elderflower and prosecco spritz popular in these parts. Skiers gather cheerily under the dark beams of the wooden lodge and even the odd ski instructor can be found taking some time out to chat off-piste. Billie Eilish plays through the speakers and a few people are already breaking into a dance. The DJ looks down at us from the decoratively carved balcony, his powerful beats causing the old wooden skis displayed on the wall to shake. We’ve now moved on to an excellently mixed gin and tonic. Tired from dancing, we’re happy that we’ve finished skiing for the day. Tomorrow’s session on the slopes awaits us – as does the next party.

Altitude: 1,067 m Skiing area: Plose Valley station: Plose gondola lift, Seilbahnstraße 17, 39042 St. Andrä/S. Andrea (Brixen/Bressanone) Slope: Trametsch, Randötsch www.plose.org

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An après-ski classic Forget about beer, wine or mixed drinks! Called Bombardino in Italian and Schneewittchen (“Snow White”) in German, it is the undisputed king of après-ski drinks in South Tyrol. This sweet concoction is perfect for warming up after a long day on the slopes and is very easy to make at home: · 3 parts Advocaat/eggnog · 1 part brandy or rum · Whipped cream · Cinnamon or cocoa powder Heat the Advocaat/eggnog without letting it boil. Then stir in the brandy and pour into a thick, heatproof glass. Top with plenty of whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon or cocoa powder. Serve hot.

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Plosehütte lodge High above the clouds

It’s the most beautiful view in the world! Every time we hop off the ski lift and glide the last few metres to Plosehütte, the vista never fails to take our breath away. Behind us is Pfannspitze peak, where a short while ago we were practising carving turns in the snow. The imposing Peitlerkofel and Geisler peaks in Villnöss/Funes, which form part of the mighty Dolomites, lie immediately in front of us and look almost close enough to touch. We turn around slowly, mesmerised by the all-around panoramic view of the Ötztal Alps, the Zillertal and Stubai Alps and the Ortles, Brenta and Adamello mountain groups. Tearing our eyes away, we look beneath us and see snowcapped Brixen sparkling in the winter sun. Up here, we’re unaffected by the few harmless clouds casting a shadow over an otherwise magnificent winter’s day. At almost 2,450 metres above sea level, we feel detached from reality. But the chill in the air soon breaks the spell and we realise that we’re not only cold, but hungry too. Then, as if by magic, the welcoming scent of food lures us towards the door of the lodge. Inside, we are greeted by a comforting warmth, coffee-drinking Carabinieri slope patrol officers and the laughter of locals playing cards. All we need now is a glass of wine.

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Pichlerhütte lodge Feel like tobogganing today?

Altitude: 2,447 m Skiing area: Plose Valley station: Plose gondola lift, Seilbahnstraße 17, 39042 St. Andrä/S. Andrea (Brixen/Bressanone) Slopes: Plose, Plose Ost, CAI www.plosehuette.com

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We race each other around bend after bend, our runners whipping up the snow – until the friend out in front comes to an abrupt stop. “Dumpling break!” he cries. The Brimi Winter Run, the new six kilometre toboggan run on the Gitschberg mountain, passes, after all, straight by the

Pichlerhütte. The small panoramic terrace is already brimming with people. We pause briefly to take a few snaps of the valley stretched out beneath us, before hanging up our helmets next to all the others on the gutters of the sun-drenched wooden lodge. After we’ve dined on homemade fresh egg tagliatelle and spinach-stuffed pasta – and our frontrunner has had his dumplings, of course – we share a plate of scrumptious poppy seed Krapfen, sweet fried pastries, for dessert. The owner of the lodge Matthias Hofer Grünfelder then shows us some photos of his Pichlerhof farm, which supplies the kitchen with a variety of produce, speck, milk and herbs. You can’t get much more locally sourced than that! We, on the other hand, still have a fair distance to travel. We’ve only completed half of the toboggan run and there’s still all to race for...


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10 Linderalm lodge

Cheese enthusiasts rejoice!

For tobogganing fans Turn to page 56, where two luge pros talk about their life in the fast lane

We’re out and about with our kids today, so it’s good that, as soon as they start to complain that they’re hungry, we simply have to head down the easy Seepiste slope and we’re right at Linderalm. Surrounded by mountains and forests blanketed in a dusting of snow, the lodge is known for Ewald Mair’s award-winning Graukäse Tyrolean grey cheese, a local delicacy. Granted, our children turn up their noses as soon as they hear the cheese’s name and would rather munch on some Kaiserschmarrn pancakes, but we listen attentively to the lodge manager as he explains how Graukäse is a sour milk cheese that is very low in fat and has an intense, spicy flavour. The more mature the cheese, the stronger its characteristic bitterness. We sample a semi-mature cheese with brown bread and butter – a classic combination. Our rapturous response sparks our children’s curiosity and they decide that they actually do want to try some. Perhaps they’ll become grey cheese connoisseurs after all! Altitude: 1,862 m

Altitude: 1,918 m Skiing area: Gitschberg

Skiing area: Jochtal

Valley station: Gitschberg gondola lift, Mitterecker Straße 16, 39037 Meransen/Maranza (Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria)

Valley station: Jochtal gondola lift, Jochtalstraße 1, 39037 Vals/Valles (Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria)

Slopes: Nesselwiese, Mitterwiese, Brimi Winter Run toboggan run

Slopes: Sonnenhang, Seepiste

www.pichlerhuette.com

www.gitschberg-jochtal.com

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Whose Tracks Are These? On the trail of animals walking through the snow. A guessing game

A Red deer Red deer are cloven-hoofed animals. They also belong to the family of unguligrades, which means that they always look as if they are standing on their tiptoes. When red deer walk or trot, they place their somewhat smaller hind hooves inside the large tracks made by their front hooves. When they gallop or jump, their tracks are positioned one behind the other and their hooves splay distinctly. The clearly recognisable dew claws visible in the rear part of the prints make up around a third of the tracks. Red deer tracks are most commonly found in forests.

B

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Hares Hares hop through open fields and pastures. They place their much longer hind paws side by side in front of their shorter front paws. The distance between each set of tracks increases the faster the hare hops and can reach up to three metres.

C Squirrels Squirrels are found in woodland, parks and gardens. They hop along the ground in a similar fashion to hares. Since the distance between their hind paws is larger than the gap between their front paws, their tracks form trapezium-shaped groups. Squirrels have four toes on each of their front paws and five on their rear.

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D Red foxes Red foxes can be found trotting through woodland and meadows as well as villages and towns. Their front and hind paws are roughly the same size. They belong to the family of digitigrades, which means that they walk on their toe pads. They place their hind paws inside the prints made by their front paws so that the tracks produced by their left paws and those by their right paws each appear as one print. Their tracks can be easily confused with prints made by dogs. However, fox prints are smaller and narrower than dog prints and in foxes the two middle toe pads are positioned slightly further out in front.


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1 = E; 2 = C; 3 = F; 4 = D; 5 = B; 6 = G; 7=A Solution

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F

G

Martens

People

Martens roam around in woodland, fields and villages. When on the ground, they typically bounce along, moving their front feet and rear feet together. Like red foxes, they belong to the family of digitigrades.

Badgers Badgers live in deciduous and mixed forests. Characterised by paws that turn slightly inwards, they usually move slowly. As they walk, they place their hind paws slightly behind the tracks made by their front paws, but the two sets tend to overlap.

People are mysterious plantigrades who walk on the soles of their feet. They sometimes stick to footpaths, but they often venture off track. People usually wear sturdy shoes. As a result, they leave a diverse range of peculiar tracks in the snow, and their footprints are unusually large. These are strange, unpredictable creatures.

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Is Anyone Home? Terese Gröber has lived in Trostburg Castle all her life. She takes visitors on tours within its historic walls, telling stories of the past when knights and counts still resided here

T e x t — P h o t o s

L E N Z K O P P E L S T Ä T T E R — C A R O L I N E R E N Z L E R

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S “I feel so happy and grateful to live up here,” says Terese Gröber. The castle is her home.

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ometimes Terese Gröber, or “Trostburg Tresl” as she is affectionately known, stands at the window of the magnificent Renaissance hall gazing down across the Eisacktal valley. It’s like looking from the past into the modern day. The stucco figures of the Counts of Wolkenstein silently surround the old woman as she takes in the sweeping view across the villages of Barbian/Barbiano, Lajen/Laion and Villanders/Villandro. Nestled among woodland and meadows, the clusters of buildings seem to be clinging on to the steep slope. Down in the valley, the hustle and bustle of modern life continues. Cars streak by and lights flash. It’s a frenzied world. But here, high above Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena, behind the thick castle walls of Trostburg everything is silent and pleasantly calm. Terese breathes out slowly. “I feel so happy and grateful to live up here,” she says. Aged 73, she has spent her whole life here. Her family once took care of the castle’s upkeep for the Counts of Wolkenstein. Today, Terese takes visitors on tours within its historic walls, recounting stories from the past when knights, barons and counts still lived here. She also tells them about how difficult life in the castle can be today, but why this won’t make her leave – the castle is, after all, her home. And would probably turn to ruin if she weren’t around. Trostburg Castle towers 627 metres above sea level, overlooking the gorge cut through the rock by the Eisack river over thousands of years. It dates back to the 12th century when the Lords of Velthurns resided here. Branded as bandits, they were forced to surrender the castle to the Count of Tyrol in around 1290. He in turn


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gave it as a fiefdom firstly to the Lords of Villanders and eventually to the Wolkenstein dynasty, who retained it as their ancestral seat for around 600 years. The castle was extended between the 14th and 16th centuries, before Engelhard Dietrich, Count of Wolkenstein, had it remodelled in the Renaissance style in the 17th century. From then on, it was only used as a summer residence. Terese Gröber ushers us in. As we cross the threshold, the intimidating portcullis with its wooden spikes looms above our heads. The machicolations, openings used to drop boiling water or tar on enemies in the Middle Ages, are a sombre sight to behold. The inner courtyard, in contrast, is an idyllic spot awash with the colours of pelargoniums, oleanders and the hydrangeas has always made its home in the castle,” says Terese, planted by Terese’s mother. Our eyes fall on arches, immediately going on to explain that the castle’s name columns and a flight of stairs leading up into the inte“Trost” used to mean “lord”, “ruler” or even “provrior of the castle. A wall painting depicting the family idence” in the German spoken in the Middle Ages. tree of the Counts of Wolkenstein adorns one of the She opens the door to the chapel, which squeaks and outer walls. We spot names such as Engelhard creaks. We are greeted by kneelers Dietrich and the famous one-eyed troubadour carved from dark, old wood, and a sim“We had to whisper in the Oswald von Wolkenstein. ple altar. The Virgin Mary looks down Passing a sooty kitchen on our right and a at us from the ceiling, the child of God mornings because the lady’s chamber behind the next door, we enter countess liked to sleep late.” in her arms. Images of Saint Anthony the keep. Here the walls are two and a half methe Great are a recurring theme in the tres thick, making it the perfect place to retreat wall paintings. An Egyptian monk and in the event of danger. Our steps echo eerily. hermit who led an ascetic life and was Walking through these walls is like stepping back in haunted by visions of the Devil whilst in the desert, he time to when families, numerous children, soldiers and is regarded as the father of monks. Called “Fåckn-Toclergymen once lived in the castle together. There’s a ni” (“Pig Toni”) by local catholics, he is the patron saint draught, we can hear the wind whistling. “The wind of farmers, butchers and swineherds. “Older farmers’ wives still sometimes come up to the castle to ask if they can go into the chapel to pray for their sows’ litters,” says Terese. She then tells us stories from her childhood, recalling how she and her siblings used to play in the woods and help in the stables. “We had to whisper in the mornings because children’s voices echo so loudly around the castle and the countess always liked to sleep late,” she remembers. The countess used to tell the children all about the world, about Italy, about the sea. Places that Terese has never seen, and has only ever dreamed of visiting. “I’ve just always loved staying here,” she says simply. However, there was once a time when it seemed impossible to stop the castle from falling into disrepair. The counts left, Terese’s parents died and her siblings all moved into the valley. Only Terese wanted to stay. But how? In 1967, members of the South Tyrolean Castles Association founded a private company to save Trostburg Castle from ruin. A few years later, Trostburg was turned into a museum and became the official seat of the association. Terese →

Terese Gröber

Ripe old age The castle dates back to the 12th century. The keep’s walls are up to two and a half metres thick, meaning the castle was the perfect place to retreat in the event of danger.

At 73 years old, Terese Gröber has spent her whole life here. Her family once took care of the castle’s upkeep for the Counts of Wolkenstein. Today, Terese takes visitors on tours within its historic walls, recounting stories from the past when knights, barons and counts still lived here.

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“I’m part of the castle and the castle is part of me. I’m not lonely, enough people come up to see me.”

One-eyed troubadour Oswald von Wolkenstein was part of the dynasty who owned the castle. Today, Trostburg is a museum and the official seat of the South Tyrolean Castles Association.

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Hydrangeas planted by Terese’s mother still grow in the castle garden. The castle’s chapel is dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great, the patron saint of farmers, butchers and swineherds.

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Thick Walls, Deep Gorges Other castles worth a visit was allowed to stay on to take care of the castle. “Because I’m part of the castle and the castle is part of me,” she says. In the decades since, she’s been showing visitors around her castle. When she isn’t giving tours, she keeps herself busy by cleaning, scrubbing the floors with a brush and hard soap and looking after a mare and her foal, chickens and three cats. Years ago, she explains, she used to walk down the steep, slippery stone path into the village every few days and, in any case, always on Sunday to attend the early morning mass. Now she only leaves the castle once every two weeks to go shopping for staples like bread, butter and milk. Does she ever get lonely? “Bah,” she shrugs dismissively. “Enough people come up to see me,” she says. The walk is enough to leave some would-be mountaineers out of breath and sweating by the time they reach the castle gate. Terese grins and tells us how she used to make it up and down the hill in high-heeled shoes. But now a new road is being built and plans are in place to connect the castle to the internet. “The internet, here?” she laughs. She invites us into her living room, which is to the immediate left of the castle entrance. Here, there’s an array of religious icons and family photos as well as a ceramic stove, an old-fashioned telephone with a rotary dial and an old television set. Sometimes when the weather is particularly stormy, the power cuts out and she has to dig out a torch. And if the batteries die, she lights candles. “The internet,” she repeats, chuckling, a twinkle in her eye. One of her cats wraps herself around her legs. “I guess people are reliant on it these days. I can do perfectly without it,” she adds. When she watches the news in the evening and hears about all the troublesome things happening “down below”, she says she feels very happy to be up here. Away from it all in her very own world.

Trostburg South Tyrolean Castles Museum

Mühlbacher Klause fortress

+ Burgfriedenweg 22, 39040 Waidbruck/ Ponte Gardena +39 0471 654 401 Open to the public: Thursday before Easter to end of October, Tues–Sun

+ Driving eastwards from Brixen via Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria it’s impossible to miss the ruins of this fortress, large parts of which are still well preserved. In the Middle Ages, Mühlbacher Klause was an important fortress and customs station. From 1271, the border created by Meinhard II between the counties of Görz (Pustertal valley) and Tyrol ran through here. The main road into Pustertal valley passed straight through the ruins until the 1990s and today a cycle route runs directly adjacent to the site.

www.burgeninstitut.com

Velthurns Castle + Built as a summer residence for the Prince Bishops of Brixen/Bressanone, the castle houses one of the most exceptional examples of European inlay work from the late 16th century. Dorf 1, 39040 Feldthurns/ Velturno +39 0472 855 525 Open to the public: March to November, Tues–Sun www.schlossvelthurns.it

Rodenegg Castle + The imposing castle complex above the Rienz gorge dates from around 1140 and is among the largest fortresses in South Tyrol. The castle is still inhabited and also serves as a museum. It features a dungeon, a beautifully colourful wedding hall and an armoury. The Ywein frescoes from the 13th century are some of the oldest profane wall paintings in the German-speaking world. Vill 1, 39037 Rodeneck/Rodengo +39 391 74 89 492 Open to the public: May to October, Sun–Fri schloss.rodenegg@gmail.com

Staatsstraße 49, 39037 Mühlbach/Rio Pusteria +39 0472 886 048 Open to the public: June to September, Mon www.muehlbacherklause.it

Summersberg Castle + Towering high above the Eisacktal valley, the castle was built for defensive purposes and in the 14th century became the seat of the former court of Gufidaun/Gudon, which had a large sphere of influence extending all the way to the neighbouring Gadertal valley. In 1880, the folklorist and German scholar Ignaz Vinzenz v. Zingerle purchased the extensive castle complex. It is still inhabited today, so only the inner courtyards are open to the public. Nafner Straße, 39043 Gufidaun/Gudon +39 0472 847 424 Open to the public: July to September, Mon (by appointment only) www.klausen.it

More information about castles in South Tyrol: South Tyrolean Castles Association www.burgeninstitut.com

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Alexandra Erlacher Born in 1978, she grew up in Brixen/Bressanone and completed her sommelier training at the South Tyrolean Sommelier Association in 2014. She has been working as a brand ambassador for the Eisacktaler Kellerei winery for around 18 months.

C is for Cork Tasting, drinking, and talking shop: how to do it properly. Alexandra Erlacher, a sommelier at the Eisacktaler Kellerei winery, shares some expert tips

I love wine but I know nothing about it. What are the first steps towards understanding it? The key thing is not to be afraid of wine! Or of all the technical terms. Just try it! Drink good wine and wine that is not so good. You’ll only be able to recognise differences and subtleties if you taste lots of different types. What books or films about wine would you recommend? The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson is easy to understand and very informative. I’m always dipping into it. I also love watching and rewatching the film A Good Year – because of the wine and, of course, Russell Crowe. He plays an unscrupulous stockbroker who inherits a château and vineyard, transforms himself into a winegrower and meets the love of his life.

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The sommelier gives me a drop of wine and looks at me expectantly. What should I do? How can I make sure I don’t make a fool of myself? And how on earth am I meant to tell if it’s been corked? Remain calm! Swirl the wine around a bit. To make sure you don’t spill any, the best way to do this is to put the glass on the table and rotate it gently. Smell it and take a sip. If you like how it tastes, give your waiter a friendly nod. An actual cork taint is more difficult to detect. Before shouting out “It’s corked!” make sure that you look at the bottle’s seal to check that it doesn’t have a screw cap or a glass closure... Are wines bottled without a cork of lower quality? No. These days, some fine wines from around the world are bottled using alternative types of closure, such as a screw cap – and this includes top-quality wines from the very best vineyards.

I don’t have a cellar and don’t want to buy an expensive wine refrigerator. What is the best way for me to store wine? You don’t have to store wine yourself. The most important thing is to find a good wine specialist you can trust who can keep you supplied with your favourite tipples. If you nevertheless have a few good bottles of wine at home, make sure that you keep them at a constant and cool temperature. Wine bottles sealed with a cork should be stored on their side to prevent the cork from drying out.


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1 AS AN APERITIF A true classic from the Eisacktal valley. The Kerner variety combines fruity, spicy notes with a gentle, pleasant acidity. It’s no wonder that it’s so popular with the locals. Best enjoyed chilled, it makes an excellent aperitif – especially when paired with some nibbles, some speck and cheese or even antipasti and cold appetisers. Eisacktal valley Kerner – Köfererhof winery 91 out of 100 points

Three Tastings The renowned American wine critics from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate recommend these three wines from the Eisacktal valley, having awarded them with a very high number of points.

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2 FOR ENTERTAINING FRIENDS A balanced and light dry white wine that goes well with simple veal dishes. Wine connoisseurs particularly appreciate its long shelf life, as it keeps very well and can be brought out when you have guests.

3 FOR SURPRISING COMBINATIONS The fresh, peppery Grüner Veltliner pairs excellently with fish dishes like trout or regional South Tyrolean classics, such as calf’s head or stuffed pasta. Its aromatic notes also marry surprisingly well with Asian cuisine, including curry and rice or dumplings with sweet and sour sauce.

Eisacktal valley Sylvaner 2017 – Kuenhof winery 91 out of 100 points

Eisacktal valley Grüner Veltliner 2018 – Eisacktaler Kellerei winery 90 out of 100 points

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The Black Horseman his black horseman figurine is part of a Giner nativity scene or crib, so named because it was made in the workshop belonging to crib carver and founder of the Tyrolean crib Johann Giner. The figurine itself doesn’t appear to be anything special at first glance. In fact, it’s not even all that beautifully carved – it almost looks as if the carver was in a hurry or was working half-heartedly. However, what the figurine stands for and the context in which it was made is fascinating. Born in Thaur in the Austrian state of Tyrol, Johann Giner (1756–1833) lived during the age of the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic Wars, an era when people were sceptical of religion. Expensive religious art and opulent Christmas festivals had fallen out of favour among the powers that be. Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II even banned the public display of excessively decorated nativity scenes in Vienna in 1782. Crib carver Giner found himself desperate for orders. Before long, he was only carving objects for himself

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and his work was very different to that of his predecessors from the extravagant Baroque period. Instead of carving kings and saints, he made simple figurines of ordinary people – shepherd boys wearing everyday clothes or, as pictured here, even horse riders playing trumpets forming part of the Three Wise Men’s entourage. Giner’s works are full of oriental exoticism and he was influenced by the wars that Austria waged in the 17th century to defend itself against the Ottoman Empire. Far from appearing rigid and formal as they did during the Baroque period, the figures look full of life and even seem to express feelings. The shepherds stand together in groups talking and can be seen leading children by the hand and letting angels show the way. Meanwhile, the horses stand defiantly on their hind legs, their riders sounding their trumpets with puffed-out cheeks. The people liked what they saw and Giner’s figurines and nativity scenes quickly became bestsellers.

Diocesan Museum, Brixen/Bressanone + Located in Hofburg palace in Brixen, the Diocesan Museum houses valuable religious artworks from the Middle Ages and the modern period as well as the most important collection of nativity scenes in the world. Displayed across more than 80 cabinets, the exhibition includes ivory and terracotta cribs as well as a scene dating from the 18th century comprising more than 5,000 figurines. + Hofburgplatz 2, 39042 Brixen, +39 0472 830 505 www.hofburg.it

Crib figurine: black horseman Age: approx. 220 years Origin: Thaur near Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria Material: painted wood

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Interview

A Tale of Two Lugers

They are connected by their passion for luging and their home village of Meransen/Maranza, and separated by almost fifty years of age… as well as an Olympic medal. She has one already, while he has his heart set on winning one. We talked to luge legend Erika Lechner and Italy’s current number one luger, Dominik Fischnaller

I n t e r v i e w — A R I A N E L Ö B E R T P h o t o s — C A R O L I N E R E N Z L E R

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Dominik Fischnaller Born in 1993, Dominik Fischnaller made his World Cup debut in 2010. His best place to date in the overall ranking was in the 2013/14 season, when he ranked third. He won gold at the Junior World Championships in Park City in 2013. In 2014, he took home bronze in the singles event at the European Championships in Sigulda and won bronze in 2017 in both the sprint and singles events at the World Championships in Igls. At the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, he narrowly missed out on a bronze medal, but went on to win gold in the team event at the 2019 World Championships in Oberhof. Dominik lives in Meransen.

Dominik, is it true that Erika’s brother was the one who introduced you to the sport of luge? DOMINIK FISCHNALLER: Yes! We have a short luge track here in Meransen where athletes can practise their start technique. We spent lots of time there as children and got to know Emil Lechner. At some point, Emil took me, my sister and a friend to the ice channel in Imst in the Austrian state of Tyrol. We all had a lot of fun and that’s how we got into luging. Were you not afraid the first time you gave it a go? DOMINIK: Of course I was. I think everyone feels scared when they first lay eyes on a track like that. But we didn’t start from the very top. Instead, we just rode down the last three or four bends and then it was only half as frightening, but still really fun. And were you gripped by luge fever straightaway? DOMINIK: I also played football and took part in ski races back then but luge was my favourite sport. It came to me really naturally from the outset so I carried it on. How did you get into luging, Erika? ERIKA LECHNER: It was just what we did for fun in winter. Apart from luging and skiing there wasn’t a whole lot else to do when I was young. We would sledge down into the valley – there wasn’t a road back then – and then take the cable car or walk back uphill from Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria.

There are quite a few lugers from Meransen competing in the World Cup at the moment. Do you think you started a village tradition? ERIKA: I think the starting track that Dominik mentioned is more likely the reason why a few young lugers have followed in my footsteps. My brother probably also played a part by whipping up excitement about the sport among lots of youngsters in the village. DOMINIK: Emil still makes the spikes for our gloves. He’s brilliant at it and he’s been doing it for as long as I can remember. ERIKA: My brother is a blacksmith by trade and was also a luger back in the day. But in my time we just wore normal gloves without spikes. We thought all luging equipment was made by highly specialised international suppliers nowadays... DOMINIK: No, no, far from it. A lot of luge equipment is made by each nation itself. And where do you train now, Dominik? DOMINIK: I still train here in Meransen on the starting track, which is also covered in ice in summer. We also have a gym and a sports field. In summer, we train five days a week from eight in the morning until around half past four in the afternoon. From October, we train on the large international tracks where the World Cup races are held. →

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When we look at your Olympic sled from 1968, Erika, it doesn’t look all that different from a sled used for leisure today... ERIKA: Yes, we still steered it using a belt and we were also still able to see the track. DOMINIK: I can also look at the track if I want to – but I’m quicker if I don’t! Was luging more dangerous back then? DOMINIK: Today, the way the track is built makes it virtually impossible to fly off the course. That wasn’t the case back then. ERIKA: Often there was just a kind of tarpaulin covering the bends. I’ve witnessed several lugers die next to the track and have seen a lot of serious injuries.

Nowadays, luging is a professional sport. But it was a very different situation when you were competing, wasn’t it Erika? ERIKA: Yes, I trained either in the morning or the evening depending on when I had time. And when the racing season came to an end, I was handed a training plan to work through. It was up to each individual athlete to decide how and where to follow the plan. It can sometimes be difficult to motivate yourself when you’re left to your own devices. Can any comparisons be drawn between what luging was like back then and how it is today? Is it still the same sport? ERIKA: I doubt that Dominik would make it to the end of the track in my luge and I’m sure I wouldn’t in his. DOMINIK: You’re probably right! ERIKA: He might manage it in mine but I definitely wouldn’t in his. We used to make our sleds ourselves back then. We had a carpenter and my brother made some of the runners himself. We also paid for everything ourselves. These days, the sleds are tailored to the athletes’ bodies. Our tracks were also not as frozen as they are today. The first artificial track of the kind used today was only constructed in Königssee in Germany in 1969 and it has been rebuilt twice since. During the 1968 Olympic Games in Grenoble, we were still completely at the mercy of the weather. At times, we had to compete in the early hours of the morning when the conditions were more reasonable. There were no spectators at all – it was just us and our coaches.

The Germans were already very successful lugers back when you were competing and still are today. Why do you think that is? ERIKA: Even in my day, the Germans had way more financial resources than we did. And they had tracks to practise on. The West Germans had Königssee and Winterberg, while the East Germans had even more sites than that. DOMINIK: The same is true today. They have four tracks – Königssee, Winterberg, Oberhof and Altenburg – where they can train whenever they want and test their equipment throughout the year. We don’t have that. A new track is being built in Cortina for the 2026 Olympics. DOMINIK: Yes, that will definitely give the sport a boost in Italy. But before that, we have the 2022 Olympics in Beijing where you’re probably hoping for just a pinch of more luck than you had in South Korea, where you missed out on a bronze medal by two milliseconds. DOMINIK: That was really tough but it’s made me even more motivated to succeed. My hunger to win is still there. Who are your idols, Dominik? Armin Zöggeler, the exceptional South Tyrolean luger? Or do you have others? DOMINIK: Armin Zöggeler, of course, and Georg Hackl from Germany. They both dominated the sport for decades. And who inspired you, Erika? ERIKA: Ortrun Enderlein was my biggest idol. She represented East Germany and was regarded as the perfect female luger of her time. →

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Erika Lechner Born in 1947, Erika Lechner became the Italian luge champion for the first time in 1964. She went on to win another six national titles. She took home a gold medal in Grenoble in 1968, becoming the first Italian woman to ever win a medal at the Winter Olympics. In 1971, she won the European Championships in Imst and was only narrowly beaten into second place at the World Championships in Olang. After ending her sporting career in 1972, she became a hotelier. Until a few years ago, she and her siblings ran Hotel Erika in Meransen, where she still lives today.

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“I doubt that Dominik would make it to the end of the track on my luge – and I’m sure I wouldn’t in his.” Erika Lechner

10 Tobogganing Rules How to stay safe on the toboggan run 1. Be considerate of other tobogganists and those walking uphill 2. Always control your speed 3. Stay on the tobogganing run and be careful at crossings 4. Overtake others or stop your toboggan only in well-visible spots 5. Never toboggan on ski slopes 6. Observe information signs and markings 7. In the event of an accident, secure the spot from oncoming tobogganers and help those injured 8. Go tobogganing only with suitable equipment, including gloves and sturdy shoes 9. Always wear a helmet when going downhill on your toboggan 10. Never ride a toboggan while under the influence of alcohol

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Were you ever allowed to come into contact with the East German athletes? They were closely guarded, weren’t they? ERIKA: As Italians, we could to a certain degree. But the West Germans weren’t able to get anywhere near them. They were seen as class enemies so contact was not permitted at any cost. We once officially invited Ortrun Enderlein to visit us in Meransen through the Brixen/Bressanone Winter Sports Association, but she wasn’t allowed to come. That made me feel very sad at the time because we actually got on very well. You also have a completely different, much more dramatic story to share with us involving Ortrun Enderlein, don’t you? One where you won Olympic gold in Grenoble in 1968 despite actually only coming third in the competition... ERIKA: It’s a crazy story! I was the fastest in training but during the actual competition I found myself in third place after three runs behind the two East German lugers Ortrun Enderlein and Anna-Maria Müller and in front of fourth-place Angela Knösel, who was also from East Germany. But the three East German competitors ended up being disqualified from the event because their runners had been heated. They had left their sleds in the boiler room until just before we went out to compete. We later experimented with heated runners at home on the track in Olang/Valdaora and discovered that they give you an advantage of up to half a second at the start, which you can’t recoup on the track. Since then, runners have always been checked before the race gets underway. I felt really sorry for the girls. I don’t think they were aware of everything their coaches and advisors were getting up to. You were given two cars after winning your Olympic gold medal. ERIKA: Yes, I was! Two Fiat 500s. One from the Brixen Sports Association and one from the Italian Winter Sports Federation. But there weren’t any roads in Meransen back then... ERIKA: ...and I didn’t even have a driving licence. I gave one of the cars to my brother and I drove the other one myself when I was finally able to get a driving licence when I turned 21.

Is it true that we have you and these two cars to thank for the fact that a road to Meransen was built? ERIKA: In a way! I should explain: plans were already in place to build a road, albeit a very narrow one. So someone suggested I write a letter to the President of Italy asking if we could maybe have a wider road. So I did! After that, the plans were actually amended and a wider road was built. You stopped luging a few years after your Olympics victory when you were just 24. Why was that? ERIKA: I wanted to carry on racing but I had built a hotel with my siblings and had to take a whole host of exams in order to run it. It simply wasn’t possible to do all that alongside the sport. Do either of you ever go tobogganing for fun? ERIKA: Now and again I do. We also have a good natural toboggan run here in Meransen. DOMINIK: I don’t have enough time. But I have had a go on the natural toboggan run. What is that like? Does your luge experience come in handy? DOMINIK: No, it’s completely different. It would be like comparing Formula 1 racing to driving a normal car. Your experience as a luger doesn’t come into it at all. Erika, what do you think makes Dominik stand out as a luger? ERIKA: Dominik is very hard-working and has what it takes to be one of the world’s best lugers. And what do you think of Erika as a luger? DOMINIK: That was before my time, of course, but back then you definitely needed grit, determination and a lot of drive to make it to the top. To achieve that without all the support we have today is fantastic. I take my hat off to her.

TOBOGGANING TIPS + Tobogganing is a particularly popular pastime in the Gitschberg Jochtal ski & holiday area and around Brixen/Bressanone and Klausen/Chiusa. In addition to the starting track for professionals, the village of Meransen/Maranza is also home to a natural toboggan run suitable for everyone. The Brimi Winter Run starts at the Nesselbahn cable car mountain station and is a 6.75 km descent, which takes tobogganers down towards the village, stopping just before the valley station. The Kurzkofelhütte Alpine lodge in the neighbouring village of Vals/Valles makes for a ruggedly romantic toboggan ride. The Kreuzwiesenalm Alpine pasture in Lüsen/Luson and the Ackerbodenalm Alpine pasture in St. Leonhard/San Leonardo near Brixen are just as tranquil, but are only accessible on foot. The climb is worth it, as you can reward your efforts with a bite to eat in a rustic setting before enjoying an exhilarating descent back into the valley. If you’re looking for a record-breaking course, head to the RudiRun in the Plose ski resort above Brixen, which is one of the longest toboggan runs in South Tyrol. Starting at the Plose gondola lift mountain station, it is a 9 km run back down to the valley station. Latzfons/Lazfons boasts an extremely well-maintained natural toboggan track called the Lahnwiesen, which plays host to World Cup races and is a popular place to train for natural track athletes from around the globe. Toboggans can be hired from the Gitschberg Jochtal and Plose skiing areas and from some mountain lodges. But be careful! Even tobogganing for pleasure requires a certain level of skill. You should therefore practise steering, braking and stopping on a flat stretch of snow before beginning your descent.

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Beautiful Things

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1 THE POWER OF WOOD

Embawo in Vahrn harnesses the power of wood as a valuable, versatile raw material to create unique bags, suitcases and home accessories. For example, the wavy coffee and tea tray pictured here has been specially designed for breakfast in bed and is reversible, with one side made from wood and the other from leather. Available online in smoked nutwood or oak for 210 euros (including ceramic cups). www.embawo.com

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2 LIT-UP LEAVES MIYUCA, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Brixen, produces sustainable, handmade lamps called LAAB (South Tyrolean for “leaves�) from fallen foliage. The leaves are collected in autumn, sorted by colour and dried. The different types of foliage collected mean that each lampshade is a unique piece that creates a warm and cosy atmosphere. Prices start at 540 euros.

3 FOR FASHIONISTAS Markus Oehler produces unique hand-made fashion items in his Fashion Factory, ranging from bags and belts to other accessories. His striking leather bags featuring metallic components are made exclusively in Brixen and no two are the same. They can be purchased from Oehler boutiques in Brixen and online from 69 euros. The MVII clutch bag pictured costs 189 euros.

www.miyuca.it

www.oehler-fashion.it

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6 WANDERLUST 40 hikes, ranging from easy walks in the valley to more challenging routes up in the mountains, can be found in the first local hiking guide published by the Brixen Tourism Association and the Klausen, Barbian, Feldthurns and Villanders Tourist Office. Available free of charge from tourist information offices. www.brixen.org www.klausen.it

7 A FRESH TAKE ON FRUIT Take a little piece of nature home with you in a jar. At the Tschott farmhouse in Villanders, the Kainzwaldner family grow their own fruit and berries, turning them into a variety of homemade products. From their berries, apricots and plums, they conjure up both classic and novel fruit spreads, such as their cherry and elderflower creation, which can be purchased from the farm shop for 4 euros. www.tschott.com

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4 BEER FROM AROUND HERE The Hubenbauer tavern and brewery in Vahrn near Brixen have been making their own beer since 2010. In addition to pale lager brewed in accordance with German purity requirements, craft beers are also produced here, including the Hubenbauer Alpengold Pale Ale, which is the perfect accompaniment to antipasti and light dishes. Made using South Tyrolean barley, Hubenbauer hops and water sourced from nearby Schalders, it has been awarded the South Tyrolean seal of quality. Available from Hubenbauer in Vahrn for 2.50 euros per bottle.

5 A SWEET TREAT It’s called Gipfele in the local German dialect and cornetto in Italian: a sweet pastry otherwise known as a croissant. One of the most renowned places to try this delicious delicacy is the Pupp patisserie in Brixen. The Pupp family have been making baked goods on their premises at Altenmarktgasse 37 since 1918. Their chocolate croissants have long enjoyed cult status among locals and visitors alike, and are available from Café Pupp for 2.50 euros.

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www.pupp.it

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A Day with... a Snowcat Driver The Gitschberg Jochtal ski & holiday area is Konrad Unterkircher’s stomping ground. We spent 24 hours out and about with a man who is on the slopes day and night T e x t — M A R I A N N A K A S T L U N G E R P h o t o s — M I C H A E L P E Z Z E I

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“Machines like this are so much fun to drive. But it takes an age to learn how to master them.�

The Gitschberg Jochtal ski & holiday area lies at an altitude of between 1,300 and 2,500 metres and has more than 55 kilometres of slopes.

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Konrad’s snowcat is 10 metres in length, weighs 14 tonnes and cost half a million euros. It has an output of 530 hp, two drive motors and a working width of 6 metres.

3:00am When your work day is dictated by wind, storms, sun, snow and rain, you have to be flexible. Luckily, flexibility is Konrad Unterkircher’s middle name – his job leaves him with no other choice. Whenever a few centimetres of snow cover the Pfunderer mountains overnight, the 62-year-old slope manager and two of his colleagues meet up at the southern slope in the dark. This is exactly where they find themselves tonight. They now have five and a half hours to flatten the fresh snow with their snowcats – five and a half hours of high-precision work during which they can’t take their eyes off the ball. Konrad only takes a break when the morning’s first skiers start populating the slopes. And by break, we don’t mean his work is done. Far from it – his day has only just begun. “A typical work routine?” he says, laughing. “There’s no such thing!”

11:30am Konrad is a slope manager, snowcat driver and slope inspector all rolled into one. He’s been part of the furniture here for decades. His place of work, the Gitschberg Jochtal ski & holiday area, lies at an altitude of between 1,300 and 2,500 metres and has more than 55 kilometres of slopes. He grew up on his parents’ farm in the nearby village of Weitental/Vallarga and was fascinated by tracked vehicles and diggers even at a young age. The day has dawned and the snow clouds have blown over. The sun is shining and Konrad is beaming. He’s swapped his snowcat for a pair of skis. If you were to watch him weaving his way down the slopes, you wouldn’t think that he was hard at work. He explains that he’s performing his daily slope inspection, which requires him to test the snow conditions on each downhill run in person. Konrad takes off his skis in front of the Gitschhütte mountain lodge, which his son Meinrad has been running for 15 years. Today, an après-ski party will be held on the terrace. Konrad is not only a slope manager, but a trained chef as well, and he helps

out wherever he is needed. He knows a lot of people up here and greets everyone with a friendly smile. A popular German song with the lyrics “Above the clouds, freedom must know no bounds” can be heard playing through the speakers. Meinrad rushes into the kitchen from the bar, while his father serves traditional cheese dumplings, omelettes and goulash to the waiting guests.

2:11pm Konrad checks over the snowcat, which he has parked behind the Gitschhütte in the morning. The behemoth of a vehicle goes by many names, including snow groomer, piste machine, trail groomer and piste basher. “In the South Tyrolean dialect, the word for snowcat is Schneakåtz,” says Konrad. You need a category C driving licence and additional training in tracked vehicles to drive a Schneakåtz. Konrad has been riding around in vehicles like this since the early 1970s and does so almost every day in winter. He has enjoyed operating each and every one of the 12 models he has used over the decades: “Machines like this are so much fun to drive. But it takes an age to learn how to master them.” Including the tiller, Konrad’s current vehicle measures almost 10 metres in length, weighs in at a staggering 14 tonnes and costs half a million euros. It has an output of 530 hp, two drive motors and a working width of 6 metres. The vehicle needs to be inspected every day to check its water →

Did you know... ... that the word “ski” comes from the Old Norse word skíð, which means “stick of wood”? ... that archaeologists in China have found 5,000-year-old paintings showing our ancestors on skis? ... that there are more than 2,000 ski resorts with a total of around 27,000 lifts worldwide? A third of these are in the Alps. ... the fastest skiing speed ever recorded is 255 kilometres per hour? The average skiing speed is 50 kilometres per hour.

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level and to make sure there is enough fuel in the tank. Konrad also looks at the hydraulics and engine oil level. Only after all of these checks is he satisfied that the snowcat is ready to roll.

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“You need to know the terrain inside out,” says Konrad Unterkircher, “so that you can control the vehicle in fog or other challenging weather conditions.”

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The Gitschlift chair lift has stopped for the day. The last skiers are winding their way back down into the valley. The mountain is slowly becoming deserted again. Konrad radios his two colleagues. All three machines are raring to go – and so they set off once more. With the sun starting to set behind them, they work together to prepare the slopes around the summit, their practised movements back and forwards resembling a synchronised dance. The purr of the snowcats is surprisingly soft. Before his last descent on this section of the mountain, Konrad makes a detour to the viewing platform. From here, the panoramic view extends in all directions and you can gaze out at more than 500 summits, including the Pfunderer mountains, the Dolomites and the Plose ski resort. “Spectacular, isn’t it?” he says, pausing for a moment, looking pensive. Then it’s back to work. There isn’t much space to reverse the snowcat. Konrad concentrates hard as he manoeuvres the vehicle along the steep precipice. “Visibility is good today so we can find our way without too much trouble,” he explains. The driver’s cab is comfortable and the on-board computer makes the machine easier to drive, continuously providing data on the depth

of the snow being flattened. “Even so, you still need to know the terrain inside out,” says Konrad, “so that you can control the vehicle in fog or other challenging weather conditions.”

5:15pm Konrad radios one of his colleagues. “Alfred, there’s nobody left up here apart from the lodge staff.” All 15 of the skiing area’s cable cars have closed for the night and the three slope workers are the only ones still out on the snow. They discuss which area each of them should take care of over the radio and will warn each other if they should unexpectedly happen to come across any skiers returning to the


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Across South Tyrol there are around 30 skiing areas with approx. 1,211 kilometres of slopes that need to be groomed every day.

valley station. Today, Konrad is taking care of the Segerwiese and Nesselwiese slopes, where the gradients are as steep as 37 percent. That means it’s time to deploy the winch in order to secure the snowcat. Usually, the winch is easy to control remotely but it’s playing up this evening. “It’s the batteries,” suspects the slope manager, jumping out of the driver’s cab to check the winch. He’s right. The batteries are indeed on the blink. He winds the winch out manually, pulls out the metal cable with its heavy metal hook by a few metres and attaches it to a special cement post. This will now serve as a fixed anchor for the snowcat as it works on the steep slope.

5:52pm On steep terrain, the roughly 1,200-metre-long cable supports the snow groomer, especially as it is driven uphill. “When the cable pulls tight, you absolutely need to keep your distance because it can be very, very dangerous,” says Konrad, pointing upwards at the very moment that the winch pulls the cable in again. The increased tension on the slope causes the rope to shoot suddenly across the snow as fast as a whiplash. This is exactly why the snow grooming team only gets to work once the slopes have closed for the day. The lodges are open in line with the cable car operating times, while designated areas are bordered off once a week to make them safe for night ski touring enthusiasts. The slope workers conduct regular drills to make sure they are properly handling the winch. These training exercises are even important for experienced drivers like Konrad. He’s been doing this job since 1972, just two years after the skiing area was first opened. “Back then I was the only slope worker. I had to teach myself how to do everything,” he says. He

later became responsible for training his future colleagues. What does he love most about his job? “Being able to see the beautiful slopes I leave behind me,” he replies without hesitation. And what doesn’t he like? He merely shrugs his shoulders and smiles happily.

8:45pm Little by little, the undulating slopes are being transformed into flat, uniform expanses of snow. “The snow is soft and easy to smooth down today,” says Konrad. This means that he only needs to drive the snowcat over each slope once. There’s enough real snow here this evening that there is no call for any artificial snow, which tends to be more stubborn. “When this isn’t the case, we might have to roll over it three times a night until it’s right.” Precision is key. Konrad takes particular care at the crossing points to ensure that the edges of the groomed areas merge seamlessly into the bordering regions. “We don’t want any lumps to form and harden overnight,” he says. He doesn’t take a break and shows no signs of fatigue. He’s also never bored: “I just love the panoramic views here, in any light and in all seasons. There’s always a new angle to discover.”

“I love the panoramic views in any light and in all seasons. There’s always a new angle to discover.”

9:00pm The favourable temperatures which have left the snow so soft and smooth allow the team to clock off earlier than is sometimes the case. Konrad and his colleagues eat dinner together, all the while keeping a close eye on the latest weather report. The sky has clouded over again, it looks like more snow is going to fall overnight. That means another bright and early start: in just a few hours, it will be time to do it all over again.

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A Beginner’s Guide to South Tyrol PART 2:

Coping with all the outdoorsy stuff

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ack when I was a translator, That was when the lodge started offering snowmobile one of my jobs was respondpick-ups. ing to English-language reNow, it’s not that those tourists were uncoordinated. Or views for a mountain lodge. even in bad physical shape. My husband Lorenzo did the They just weren’t South Tyrolean. Italian ones. The lodge was In fact, the sheer number of similar reviews revealed to ski-in, ski-out and situated me a universal truth: the average South Tyrolean is in at nearly 3,000 meters. But ridiculously good physical shape in relation to the rest non-skiers could walk there of us mere mortals. And is thus utterly unreliable when from the cable car as well. it comes to communicating to outsiders the difficulty of The ownany given hike or bike ride or ski run. ers had described the route: “We’re My visiting American friends often located just a short, pleasant walk get inspired by locals to take this or from the top of the ski lift. The trail that “not-steep-at-all, easily-manis well marked, and not too steep. aged-before-lunch, you’ll-be-so“The average South Walking time: 20 minutes.” glad-you-did-it” hike. Tyrolean is in After a while, a review from a MilBut after being blamed for some anese tourist described the trail as rather unfortunate experiences, I’ve ridiculously good a “nearly life-threatening” vertical learned to dispense dire warnings, physical shape.“ climb. He likened the undertaking along with speck sandwiches, to of reaching the lodge to that of Sisythose I can’t dissuade: “After the first phus in Greek mythology, who was five or so hours, your lungs will feel forced to roll a huge boulder uphill, like they’re on fire. Then a vile feelonly to have it roll back down, for ing of nausea will overtake you. At all eternity. a certain point it’ll seem like your brain cells are dying A woman from New York was less poetic: “Not short. from lack of oxygen. A lot of them will be dying, actually, Not pleasant. Not a ‘walk’ at all, in fact. Yes, too steep. but we have a lot more than we need so don’t worry. It is Climbing time: 60 minutes. If you’re an Olympic athreally pretty up there, though. See you tonight!” lete.” Of course you have to concede that South Tyroleans After that, we changed the text for the foreign markets: have an unfair genetic advantage: their ancestors would “For non-skiers, reaching the lodge on foot is possible. drive large herds of animals straight uphill for six or But be warned that it’s a long, very steep hike at altiseven hours before sitting down to a leisurely noontime tude.” meal up at the Alpine pastures. A little while later, a British hiking enthusiast described Whereas my ancestors … well … repeatedly lifting that his “pure horror” as his wife slid on her belly down a mug full of Guinness beer from the table all the way up snowy hill, landing not-so-gently in a snow heap. to their mouths must have been exhausting.

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A Short Dictionary of South Tyrolean Understand what the locals say

pippln And so I leave every visitor to South Tyrol with this very practical piece of advice: Doing all the outdoorsy stuff is worth it. I promise. But always, always, always ask a local how far it is to the peak and how long it will take you as an unexperienced hiker. Then triple the estimate they give you. And plan the rest of your day accordingly. Or, even better: Tell staff at your local tourist office which hike you’re planning. And ask them to convert its description from South Tyrolean Standard Time to Normal People Time. You’ll thank me.

[ˈpɪpln̩ ] ... is what South Tyroleans say when someone drinks like a fish or has one drink too many.

Schellrodl [ˌʃɛlˈʁɔ͜ ʊdl̩ ] Someone who “is always on the Schellrodl”, a word that roughly translates as “sledge with bells”, is not a tobogganing enthusiast but rather someone who is never at home and loves being always out and about here, there and everywhere.

Hosch Fiffa? [hɑʃ ˈfɪfa]

Cassandra Han Born and raised in the US. In 2008, she moved to South Tyrol, where her husband Lorenzo’s mother is from. In this column, she writes about how she learned to love South Tyrol’s quirks and peculiarities… and how she herself slowly became a true South Tyrolean.

... is what South Tyroleans ask someone who is standing at the start of a black run but isn’t sure if they have the nerve to ski down it. In Italian, “fifa” is a colloquial word for “fear”, so the question roughly translates as “Are you scared?”

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Up Among the Clouds Slopes you had to flatten with your own skis before making your descent. Wobbly basket lifts with the icy wind whistling around your ears. And chic sun terraces and brightly coloured fashion statements. Hop on for a journey back in time to the early days of skiing

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The Pfannspitz chairlift – the first chairlift on the Plose massif – pictured against the backdrop of the Geisler massif on a postcard from 1965.

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Up and down No ski lifts, no functional clothing – and no groomed slopes. Skiing in the area around Brixen/Bressanone was a true adventure when the sport was still in its infancy. Often, skiers found a snowy hill and trudged up it with their skis strapped to their feet, before sliding down through ankle-high snow. And if you wanted a smooth descent, you had to trample down the snow yourself. It quickly became apparent that the telemark skiing technique originating from Norway was not suitable for the steep slopes found in the Alps. Instead, skiers here developed their own techniques, bindings and skiing styles – and Alpine skiing was born.

Dry training A group of skiers in the foothills of the Gitschberg mountain in Meransen/ Maranza make their way towards the slopes on foot in March 1946. At that time, skiing was a spartan affair and there was hardly any infrastructure on the mountains. There was just one cableway, which took people from Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria to Meransen starting in 1957. A few resourceful South Tyrolean farmers had already turned their mountain huts into ski lodges in the 1920s and the first simple lifts had been constructed in the 1930s, but tourism only began to take off after the Second World War. Ski lodges, mountain hotels and lifts appeared across the region, saving skiers from having to make long climbs on foot.

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A basketful of skiers The turning point was a simple surface lift built in 1950 – but skiing on the Plose massif really began to progress towards the end of the decade when a cableway was constructed to connect Brixen with the village of St. Andrä/S. Andrea, from where a second such structure continued up to the mountain. The legendary basket lift to the summit of the Plose was opened alongside the mountain station in Kreuztal/Valcroce on 8 December 1964, remaining in service until 1985. Each basket could accommodate two passengers standing up and there were often huge queues of people waiting to board. At times, an icy wind whistled around the occupants’ ears, which is why on particularly cold days skiers were given a woollen blanket to help them keep warm. These were handed back in on reaching the top.

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Fun in the sun “On the Plose – oh, what fun! Plenty of snow and lots of sun.” This is the English translation of a 1970s advertising slogan for the skiing area. This promotional poster for the Plose with the famous Peitlerkofel mountain in the background appeared in 1971. The seventies were a particularly important decade for winter tourism in the Eisacktal valley: the first four ski lifts on the Gitschberg mountain were built in 1970, and the Jochtal ski area opened in 1976.

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A question of price During the 1968/69 ski season, a day ski pass on the Plose on Sundays cost 2,200 Italian lire, which is around 20 euros in today’s currency. 7,500 lire (approximately 70 euros today) could buy you a whole week of skiing during the peak season. Back then, skiers only had access to four slopes and four lifts – there was no connection to the Pfannspitze peak, which forms part of the skiing area today.

Chic Kreuztal The Erlers, an entrepreneurial family from Brixen, built a hotel in Kreuztal at the foot of the hill on which, years later, the cableway’s mountain station would be constructed. The hotel’s wooden sun terraces became a popular meeting place for skiers and the hotel even had its own adjacent surface lift, known as the Erlerlift, from 1953. Today, this site marks the start of the modern Schönboden four-seater chairlift. The hotel, in contrast, is no longer standing, after being destroyed by fire in 1990.

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Insider tips from the locals

Favourite Places in... Winter

1 Sitting next to the stove “For me, winter is an exciting, action-packed time. My role as Il Cavaliere, a charming ski guide, sees me looking after visitors of all ages to the Gitschberg Jochtal ski & holiday area. I spend all day working as a concierge on skis and a walking tourist information office, joking with skiers and assisting them through my neck of the woods. I love my job, meeting other people and being outside in the sunshine and fresh air. But even I need a quiet, cosy place to retreat to on my days off. My safe haven is a spot beside the warm rustic stove in the Zingerlehütte mountain lodge in the Alpine hamlet of Fane Alm. I hike from Vals/ Valles up to the hamlet and have something to eat and a small shot of schnapps, before lying down on a bench next to the stove and taking a nap – or a Naunggerle as the South Tyroleans say. Then I’m ready for whatever my job throws at me.” Tiziano Stimpfl, 33, Il Cavaliere ski guide in the Gitschberg Jochtal ski & holiday area

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2 The joy of skating “In cold winters whenever the small pond in the Laugen biotope in Natz-Schabs/ Naz-Sciaves freezes over, my two children can’t wait to go ice skating. The biotope is a protected conservation area so there are no taverns, skate hire facilities or changing rooms here. But the crunchy ice crystals among the reeds, the abundance of sticks and stones that can be used as hockey goalposts and the small wooden bridge from where I can stand and watch more than make up for this. And when my two little ones trudge off the ice, their noses red from the cold, I have biscuits and a thermos flask of fruit tea waiting for them.” Evi Überbacher, 36, hotelier

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3 My place to recharge “For 25 years now, I have been leaving my footprints in the snow-covered Alpine landscape of the Lüsner Alm Alpine pasture. My path usually leads

me past the tiny Jakobsstöckl chapel and over an easy ridge to a viewpoint called Campill. From there I have magnificent views of the snowy Alps and the Dolomites. Snowshoeing in this peaceful, remote place helps me contemplate life and recharge my batteries after a busy week.” Franz Hinteregger, 59, hotelier


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in preparation for spring. I love the spectacular panoramic views as well as the comforting sense of tranquillity exuded by the chapel.” Anita Gasser, 42, farmer

4 Warm and relaxing “When it’s bitterly cold outside and there’s snow on the ground, or light snow is falling, my absolute favourite place to be is the salt water pool in the Acquarena in Brixen/ Bressanone. After doing a few lengths to warm up in the large indoor pool, I jump into the salt water pool, swim outside and lie back in the whirlpool. As the blissfully warm water massages my back, I float and watch the steam rise from the illuminated pool. With dusk falling around me, I can’t imagine anything more relaxing!”

called ‘Ronegga Platzladvent’ has been held on the village square here in Rodeneck/Rodengo for the past few years. Unlike the hustle and bustle of larger markets, here you can listen to peaceful music between trees decorated with Christmas lights, sipping on mulled wine or tea, and treating yourself to home-made biscuits and traditional Stollen or South Tyrolean Zelten fruit cake. You can buy handmade gifts and Advent wreaths, with some of the proceeds being donated to charity.” Marion Pitscheider, 23, nurse

Vera Profanter, 30, staff member at Brixen Tourism Association

7 Out in the peaceful snow “I love hiking on the Villanderer Alm Alpine pasture, taking in the unspoilt nature far away from the ski slopes and cable cars. Trudging through the snowy meadows in winter is particularly relaxing. It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the panoramic winter views. Plus, what hike would be complete without taking a break in one of the many cosy mountain lodges to drink a hot spiced punch and tuck into some traditional shredded pancakes known as Kaiserschmarrn?”

8 Hello, spring! “As winter draws to a close, I always feel a strong urge to leave the days stuck indoors by the radiator behind and venture outside into the fresh, clean air. My favourite place to fill my lungs with the first breath of spring is an old bunker in Spinges/Spinga near Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria, which has been transformed from a relic of war into a peaceful play area and recreational space. A wooden observation tower on the roof of the bunker is the ideal spot for me to practise my breathing exercises – and the scents of reawakening nature, from the spicy forest to the damp ground, help me to re-energise.” Gabi Stolz, 44, office worker and wellness trainer

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Rupert Steiner, 42, farmer and trail keeper

5 A time for reflection “I love Christmas and all its traditions – lots of time to spend with friends and family, twinkling candles, woolly gloves, steaming mugs of tea and fir tree branches. A small yet charming Christmas market

6 Soaking up the sun “On sunny winter days when others head to the slopes, I prefer to hike to Kirchbühel in Schnauders/Snodres. From the village of Feldthurns/ Velturno, it is just a 20-minute climb along the Sonntagsweg path to the hilltop with its small, late Gothic St. George’s church. On reaching the top, I sit down on a bench in the sun and take a break – feeling at one with nature as it, too, rests

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The Perfect Snapshot... in Winter South Tyrolean photo bloggers Judith Niederwanger and Alexander Pichler share their tips on how to take better photos – whether you are out and about with a professional camera or just your smartphone

Autumn in Verdings/ Verdines near Klausen/ Chiusa, Instagram photo by Annelies Leitner (@wiesnliesl)

TIP #1

THE BEST READER PHOTO “The picture gives you a wonderful sense of calm and the lighting is amazing. You wish you could just magic yourself there for the day!” Judith and Alex

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CHANGE PERSPECTIVES Sometimes this requires you to twist and contort your body into new, acrobatic angles, but unleashing your creativity is definitely worth it. Instead of always taking photos at eye level, switch things up and try capturing some images from a bird’s-eye or worm’s-eye view. This lets you see things from a whole different angle and is often the secret to the perfect shot. It’s a brilliant way of helping your photo to stand out from the crowd on Instagram, especially if you’re photographing popular subjects.

TIP #2 ADD A NATURAL FRAME To add more depth and three-dimensionality to a photo, use elements in the foreground to serve as a frame for the main subject. Examples include snow-covered branches jutting into your shot, a cloudy sky, long afternoon shadows or even an architectural object like an archway. The frame can be in or out of focus, round or rectangular. Just let your creativity run wild!

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Send us your best shots!

TIP #3 LOOK AROUND YOU When taking photos on a winter walk, it is important to do more than just fix your gaze – and your lens – on the magnificent panoramic views

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Judith Niederwanger and Alexander Pichler run a successful blog called Roter Rucksack (German for “red backpack”). Their Facebook page of the same name has 13,000 likes and they have racked up almost 9,000 followers on Instagram. In 2019, they released a German-language book showcasing the most beautiful tours and photo spots in South Tyrol.They also regularly publish calendars featuring stunning imagery.

out in the distance. Otherwise you run the risk of creating a monotonous set of pictures. Take a closer look around you and you’ll discover lots of beautiful objects on the side

of the footpath. Taking photos up close allows you to capture intricate details and produces exciting, almost abstract compositions.

Post your pictures from Brixen/ Bressanone, the Gitschberg Jochtal ski & holiday area, Klausen/Chiusa and the surrounding area with the hashtag #cormagazine on Instagram or Facebook (or send them to info@cormagazine.com). We will select another reader’s photo to print in the next issue of the magazine.


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COR - The Local Magazine (EN Edition 2/2019)  

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