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A heritage holiday - heritage farms in the Kitzbüheler Alpen

A HERITAGE HOLIDAY - Heritage farms in the Kitzbüheler Alpen have been family-owned for at least two hundred years.

If walls could talk – the heritage farms in the Kitzbüheler Alpen really would have a lot to tell. The definition 'heritage farm' can only be borne by farmhouses which have been in the possession of the same family for at least two hundred years, without a break. The unity which occurs between the farm and the family over the centuries exudes a serenity which fascinates every visitor. The Kitzbüheler Alpen are one of the biggest alpine regions in Europe, and accordingly, many of the alpine inns and farms can be found here.

Yet only 82 of them are able to bear the designation 'heritage farm', which certifies that the farm has been in the ownership of the same family for at least two hundred years, without a break. Those of you who spend your holiday in a real heritage farm, are also booking a holiday featuring the heritage, customs and traditions of eight or more generations. Heritage farms in the Kitzbüheler Alpen are far removed from the lifestyles of the city of Kitzbühel and preserve old knowledge and traditional ways of life. To share in this centuries old experience, understand it and experience it, is what makes a holiday on a heritage farm special. These days sustainability is the word on everyone's lips in. On heritage farms the farm people have for generations been living according to these economic premises and this foresight has secured the survival for the coming generations.
From creaky wooden floors and genuine farm produce, heritage farms are not just museums, into which the conveniences of the twentieth century have found their way. Heritage farms do not dwell in the past, rather they develop from it. However, a great deal of emphasis is placed upon tradition in heritage farms – whether that is in the production of own farm produce, or in looking after the cows.

Christine Ehrensberger from Erbhof Thumerhof, built in 1580, above Westendorf, is a dab hand at excellent, farmhouse cuisine, handed down from generation to generation. She prepares fruit jams using her grandmother’s recipes and gathers honey from her own bees. The little museum in the Thumerhof whisks you off into agricultural life of long, forgotten days – shearing sheep, butter churns, mandolins and the like give us an idea of how strenuous life on the mountain farm was, even just a few decades ago.

Guests in Erbhof Zinting above Brixen im Thale will be particularly indulged by their hostess Elfriede Landegger. As a passionate cook, who is happy to try out new things, she likes to combine traditional Tyrolean fare with new, contemporary elements. The ingredients for her delicious meals come predominantly from her own farm; the tender meat from her own Galloway beef herd, beef olive, roast joints and prime boiled beef provide an especially sophisticated note. The traditional interweaved with the contemporary.

Erbhof Fragenstätt run by the Schipflinger family above Kirchberg is home to beef cattle, pigs, sheep and Haflinger horses. Hans Schipflinger has a particular interest in the old machinery and techniques of his forebears. With hours of work by hand he got the old threshing machine working again for the grain and proudly presents it to his guests. He also serves his guests home-brewed schnapps, and also his speciality bacon. His wife Herma contributes with her home-baked spelt bread and home-made jams. Mentioned for the first time in 1428, the Fragenstätt-Hof is the oldest heritage farms in the region. Yet guests don’t have to relinquish the comforts of a contemporary guesthouse, the few rooms there are were recently renovated. The creaky wooden floors and the little chapel in the garden contribute to the wonderful, genuine ambience of the farmstead. After a few hours at the farmstead you will have adopted the tranquillity and serenity of your landlord. A good talk with Hans helps you put things in perspective and review your priorities.

In the tracks of history – on the Aurach heritage farm trail Starting from Bichln you get to see the wide alpine meadows in the Kitzbüheler Alpen. The clear view to the mountains, the fragrant pastures and the tranquillity of the natural surroundings are constant companions to visitors to the Aurach heritage farm trail. This moderately difficult hike passes numerous heritage farms and provides an impressive insight to the centuries-old history of heritage farms.

The organic farm built on the Niedernberg in 1569 by the Erber family, is your first station. Yoghurt, bread and schnapps are produced here. Erbhof Buchau has been in the ownership of the Mitterrer family since 1759 and is the second station of this hiking trail. The route continues to Erbhof Trategg, a real gem among the old heritage farms in the region. Bread is still regularly baked in the farm’s own bakehouse and smokehouse. There is even a disused wash-house right next to the farm. On wash days, the little stream was simply diverted and the water was heated up in the wash house.

Branderhof is the biggest farm in Aurach. The grand-father of the family who own it was a pioneer of his era and was the first to bring the Haflinger breed to the town from South Tyrol.

The last station of the hike is Erbhof Hallerwirt, which is over 300 years old and is constructed entirely from wood and elaborately embellished. The Hallerhof has been run as a guesthouse for centuries. On the menu are numerous dishes which are prepared using produce from the surrounding heritage farms. The landlords, Monika and Jürgen Stelzhammer, make traditional Tyrolean meals for their guests. The light potato soup, roast beef with serviette dumplings and Kaiserschmarrn for dessert, are three of the many specialities they offer. The ambience of this, the oldest wooden block house in the Kitzbühel area, has a crucial role to play in the culinary experience. The old wooden floors in the Zechstube, the Wildererstube and also in the rural ballroom creak. In Erbhof Hallerwirt you become aware that you are but a blink in time. Setting for romantic scenes The Kitzbüheler Alpen have long been an insider tip for film productions. The wonderful scenery and the many old farmsteads with flower-bedecked balconies are especially suitable for regional films. The two-hundred year old Griesenau guesthouse and heritage farm at the entrance to the Kaiserbachtal is one of these much sought-after filming locations. In the picturesque Kaiserbachtal, in the middle of the Wilder Kaiser conservation area, it is predominantly romantic scenes which are filmed.

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