Rural Life in South Tyrol
Blossoming apple orchards, vineyards and stately farmhouses in the valleys, as well as impressive mountain farms at the highest elevations amidst steep ridges – these are the direct contrasts that characterise South Tyrol. Reflect on this diversity whilst enjoying famous South Tyrolean smoked ham along with a glass of wine served on a handmade wooden table. South Tyrolean agriculture shapes the landscape, creating unique culinary experiences and protecting valuable customs.
There are 20,000 farms in South Tyrol, 80% of which are family-run. Many farms are smaller than five hectares. There are over 13,000 ‘closed farmhouses’, which is a term used to distinguish a farm capable of supporting a family of four and that will be passed on to the next generation in its entirety.
Livestock, apples & wine
About half of South Tyrol’s farms have livestock, mainly cows whose milk is used to produce delicious dairy products. Farms for apple and wine production account for the second half. The cultivation of vegetables, grain, herbs and berries decreased in the last few decades and many farmers specialised in apples. Now, however, the production of these valuable food products has increased again in the last few years. This goes to show that regionalism is important to many in South Tyrol.
The sense of regionalism and the values of preservation are also embodied in the maintenance and rediscovery of local specialities. Old races such as the Villnöss sheep and the Tyrolean grey cattle are being valued (once more). Fruits like Palabirne pear and Vinschgau apricot are especially rich in taste and aroma and enrich the menu. In the south, the Anterivo coffee bean is experiencing a renaissance and can be enjoyed as a beverage or processed as part of a delicious dish.
Life on the mountains
The life of the mountain farmer is fraught with a great challenge. 65% of farms are located above 1,500 m elevation. Managing a farm on such steep slopes makes things considerably more difficult. Two factors, the strong sense of regional identity in South Tyrol and the desire of its farmers to stay and work here and nowhere else, have meant that very few have left farming. The percentage of abandoned farms is therefore lower than in most regions of Europe.
Holiday and enjoyment on the farm
More than half of the farms cannot manage from agriculture alone. As a result farming families also earn money by offering tourists holidays on the farm and by operating Buschenschänke farmhouse inns. This is good for guests because enjoying rural and regional specialities direct from the source has never been easier. 1,600 farms offer holidays on the farm and insights into the rural way of life.