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Notes on the Geography of 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.

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Austria : Rattenberg picture 1

Rattenberg fits the bill and was doubly lucky because it had been built stoutly. Here's 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.

Austria : Rattenberg picture 2

Here it is, Sudtiroler Strasse, tidily blocked off for pedestrians to stroll.

Austria : Rattenberg picture 3

The Tyrol is full of houses linked to barns by bridges like this. 

Austria : Rattenberg picture 4

A house set into a cliff and now partly developed as a museum.

Austria : Rattenberg picture 5

View from the museum window; the view is over the Inn.

Austria : Rattenberg picture 6

There's a respect verging on veneration for craftsmanship, applied in this case to making a plate rack.

Austria : Rattenberg picture 7

A pottery colander.

Austria : Rattenberg picture 8

The workman's tools: adze and hatchet.

Austria : Rattenberg picture 9

Not far upstream, this is the Tyrolean vocational school for dairying. It 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 having other sources of income. 

Austria : Rattenberg picture 10

Inside a barn at the school: a devotion to craft doesn't preclude a willingness to use modern machinery.


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