Travel to Austria : Rattenberg
What do you do with a town that centuries ago lost its strategic value? Answer: hope that it became so poor and neglected that nobody spent a dime modernizing the place before the tourism-development folks came along.
Rattenberg's a good illustration of a town fortunate enough that people left it alone for centuries--doubly fortunate in that it was stoutly enough made to endure neglect. Here, the Spazierweg promenade, with the Inn on the left. There's only one other street in town; it's parallel to the river and off to the right one block.
Here it is, Sudtiroler Strasse, tidily blocked off for pedestrians to stroll.
The Tyrol is full of houses linked to barns by bridges like this.
A house set into a cliff and now partly developed as a museum.
View from the museum window; the view is over the Inn.
There's a respect, even a veneration for craftsmanship of many kinds. Here, a plate rack.
A pottery colander.
The workman's tools: adze and hatchet.
Not far upstream, there the Tyrolean vocational school for dairying. It's a craft itself, and one that sustains a landscape of farms far into the alpine heights. Agriculture, however, contributes only slightly more than one percent of Austria's gross domestic product. and that number is declining. Forty percent of all Austrian farmers are deemed disadvantaged and are therefore eligible for special subsidies. Those subsidies allow dairying to continue, and it now generates more money in Austria than any other agricultural activity. Still the business is threatened by imports from the new members of the European Union, whose land resources are more generous than those of mountainous Austria. One possible edge for the Austrians: most of the milk they produce is organic. Another: most of the dairy farms are part-time, with families relying more on other jobs.
Inside a barn at the school: a devotion to craft doesn't preclude a willingness to adopt modern machinery.
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