A holiday with a hint of history - heritage farms in the Kitzbüheler Alpen
A HOLIDAY WITH HISTORY Heritage farms in the Kitzbüheler Alpen have been in family owenership for at least two hundred years. If walls could talk, the heritage farms in the Kitzbüheler Alpen really would have a great deal to say. The designation ‚heritage farm‘ can only be used by farmhouses which have been owned by the same family for at least two hundred years, without any interruptions. The unity between farm and family which has developed over the centuries radiates a serenity which allures every visitor. The Kitzbüheler Alpen are one of the biggest alpine regions in Europe, and a lot of the alpine lodges and farms are located here. Yet only eighty two of them can use the designation ‚heritage farm‘, which proves that the farm has been owned by the same family for at least two hundred years, without any interruptions. So whoever enjoys a holiday in a genuine heritage farm, is also booking a holiday which features the history, customs and traditions of eight or more generations. Heritage farms in Brixen im Thale and the Kitzbüheler Alpen are far removed from the ‚lifestyles‘ of the town of Kitzbühel and demonstrate old knowledge and a traditional way of life. Being a part of this centuries old experience and understanding and witnessing it is what makes a holiday on a heritage farm special. These days sustainability is the catchword on every one’s lips. For generations farm people have been living according to these economic premises on heritage farms and it is this farsightedness which will safeguard their survival for the generations to come.
From creaky wooden floors and real farm produce Heritage farms are not museums; twentieth century comforts have found their way here too. Heritage farms are not stuck in the past, they develop from it. However, tradition is very much emphasised in heritage farms – be that in the making of the farm’s own produce or in looking after the cows. Christine Ehrensberger from Erbhof Thumerhof – constructed in 1580 – located above Westendorf, is very much a dab hand at the art of farmhouse cooking, handed down from generation to generation. She prepares jams using her grandmother’s recipes and gathers honey from her own bees. The little museum in the Thumerhof whisks you off into a rural life of a time long past – sheep shearing, butter churn, cabbage planer and the like give an idea of how demanding life was on a mountain farmstead just a few decades ago. Guests in Erbhof Zinting above Brixen im Thale are particularly indulged by host Elfriede Landegger with fantastic foods. As a passionate chef who is happy to experiment, she is happy to combine traditional Tirol fare with new, contemporary elements. The ingredients for her delicious meals come, for the most part, from her own farm, which lends a particularly wonderful taste to the tender meat of the her own Galloway beef herd; beef roulades, roasts and prime boiled beef. Tradition interwoven with the contemporary Fragenstätt heritage farm owned by the Schipflinger family and located above Kirchberg, is home to cattle, pigs, sheep and Haflinger horses. Hans Schipflinger has a particular interest in the old machinery and techniques of his forebears. It took many hours of work by hand to get the old threshing machine for the corn working again and he proudly presents it to his guests. He also serves his guests home-distilled schnapps and also speciality bacon. His wife Herma chips in by making home-baked spelt bread and home-made jam. First mentioned in writing in 1428, Fragenstätt Hof is one of the oldest heritage farms in the region. Guests do not have to relinquish any of the amenities of a contemporary guesthouse, the few rooms there are have been recently refurbished. The creaking wooden floors and the little chapel in the garden help make a really wonderful ambience at the farm. After just a few hours at the farm you will adopt the landlord’s relaxed demeanour. A good talk with Hans also helps many guests to rethink the way they look at things and their priorities. In the tracks of history – on the Aurach heritage farm trail Starting from Bichln you get to access the wide alpine pastures in the Kitzbüheler Alpen. The clear view to the mountains, the fragrant meadows and the tranquillity of the natural surroundings are constant companions for those visiting the Aurach heritage trail. This moderately difficult hike proceeds past a variety of heritage farms and gives you an idea of the impressive centuries-old history of the farms. The organic farmstead on the Niedernberg which was built in 1569 and is owned by the Erber family, is the first stop-off point. Yoghurt, bread and schnapps are produced here. Erbhof Buchau has been in the ownership of the Mitterer family since 1759 and is the second stop-off on the hiking trail. The route continues to Erbhof Trategg, a particular gem among the old farms in the region. Bread is still regularly bakes in the farm’s own bakehouse and smoke house. There is also a disused washhouse right next to the farmstead. On wash days, the little stream was re-routes and the water from it was then heated up in the washhouse. The Branderhof is the biggest farm in Aurach. The grand-father of the family which owns it was a pioneer of his time and was the first person to bring the Haflinger breed from South Tirol to the town. The last stop-off point of the hike is Erbhof Hallerwirt, which is over three hundred years old and built entirely from wood and elaborately decorated. The Hallerhof has been run as a guesthouse for centuries. There are a number of dishes which feature on the menu which are prepared using produce from the surrounding heritage farms. Landlords Monika and Jürgen Stelzhammer make traditional Tirol cuisine accessible to their guests. The light potato soup, roast beef served with serviette dumplings and Kaiserschmarrn pancakes to finish are just three of the many specialities here. The ambience of the oldest wood-block house in the Kitzbühel area adds significantly to the culinary experience. The old wooden floors creak in the Zechstube, the Wildererstube and also in the country-style festival hall. In Erbhof Hallerwirt you become aware that you are but a blink in time. Places for romantic scenes The Kitzbüheler Alpen have long been an insider tip when it comes to film production. The fantastic landscape and the many old farmsteads with their flower-decked balconies are especially suitable for films about the local area. The two-hundred year old guesthouse and heritage farm, the Griesenau, situated at the entrance to Kaiserbachtal is one of these sought-after filming locations. In the picturesque Kaiserbachtal, which nestles in the Wilder Kaiser nature conservation area, predominantly romantic scenes are filmed. The Branderhof which is filled with tradition, is very well-known in Aurach and is the filming home of Hansi Hinterseer. A list of all twenty-four heritage farms which have rooms or holiday apartments available to let can be found at www.kitzalps.com/erbhof.