Every region is influenced by the people who live there. Trisanna meets the mayor of Galtür, Anton Mattle. He’s a man who’s always on the move, and feels supported by the community and his family. Here’s the interview, with photos by Philipp Horak.
55, born in Zams
Place of residence
Entrepreneur, mayor, state parliament vice-president
Married to Daniela since 1985. Son Philipp (born in 1985), daughters Sarah (born in 1987) and Alexandra (born in 1989)
You’ve been mayor of Galtür for many years. What characteristics are typical of your village?
Our great optimism. Or our confidence and the realisation that there are limits to our success.
Where does this optimism come from?
People are influenced by their environment as well. During the centuries of poverty, the people here always believed that the hardship would come to an end sometime, and so they stayed here. It was worth it – the poverty is no more, the optimism has remained.
How much is life in Galtür changing?
Very noticeably. For example, the tradition of drinking a morning pint, which used to be a must for the men, is almost no more.
Partly it could be because of work, partly because family is the most important factor for more and more people. I notice it myself, I’m also happy when I can spend some time with my family.
Does the village community suffer as a result?
No. Galtür has a strong programme of village and club activities. There are 30 clubs, from the sports association to the rifle club, music, the library and the Alpinarium association. The people of Galtür are well connected to each other.
What does this mean for the community?
It leads to encounters and friendships. Everyone is responsible for everyone else.
Do enough people still get involved with music (and the village band)?
8% of the population. That means that one in twelve residents is involved with music. The village band is delighted to have so many members (64 musicians). Anyone who’s interested in music is signed up as early as primary school, and then trained over the years. The high points of the musical year are the New Year’s Concert and the Spring Concert.
Are the villagers in the valley also coming closer together through better infrastructure and new media?
Yes, technical and digital mobility make it easier to make contacts, build friendships, and organise yourself. In football we even play as a Paznaun community team nowadays; there are training communities for skiing, too. The shared tourism association and the communal planning association are good examples. The first big step for a greater sense of community in the valley was taken when the high school for the whole of Paznaun was built fifty years ago.
A new building, with a new primary school built next to it.
Yes. There’s a good architectural balance between the two buildings now.
At the Leipzig Book Fair, a book was presented by the author Barbara Aschenwald, with stories which were written here. What’s the background to this?
We invited Barbara Aschenwald here for two months on the occasion of the 111th anniversary of the Society for the Improvement of Galtür (the predecessor of the tourism association) – she had already set her story “Tales of the living and the dead” in Galtür. She wrote up what she had heard and experienced here in a literary work, in 11 +1 stories. The aim of the book is to bring pleasure to the people of Galtür, our current and also our future tourists, and to remind everyone of the start of organised tourism here in our community.
Barbara Aschenwald doesn’t romanticise life in Galtür. Is it difficult to communicate it?
It’s not necessarily difficult. The book is deliberately not autobiographical. It is written in exciting language, very much in the Aschenwald style. “Lights on the mountain” should appeal to book lovers and perhaps also win them over to Galtür.
Is it difficult to stop institutions like the post office or the banks from moving away?
You have to try. It can work. For example, we have taken over the post office as a community, which has been very well received. What’s important is that the same level of service remains as far as possible. Every business that’s empty is one too many. Of course I realise new technologies are changing our present reality. We need to strengthen awareness of regional systems, alongside the changes.
What’s your favourite expression in the Paznaun dialect?
Brinta (damp mist from Lake Constance)
Your favourite meal?
Roast beef with onions, with our own Tyrolean yearlings
Cooked by whom?
My wife Daniela.
Your favourite place in Paznaun?
Vergaltsch (Sonnberg above Galtür)
Describe the people of Galtur as a race:
If Galtür were an animal what would it be?
A snow grouse
With what drink do you toast to a successful season?
Enzner (Galtür gentian schnapps)
Your favourite colour in winter?
Describe the Silvapark ski area in one word?
Skiing where the landscape and the piste are one and the same
What’s your favourite language during the season?
Where do you find a moment of peace?
In the mountains
Your favourite song with a Paznaun connection?
“I’m from Austria” by Reinhard Fendrich
(season’s opening concert, December 1999 )
The most important winter accessory?
Your favourite time of day?
Six o’clock in the morning.
The most important changes in the last ten years?
Personally, going from being a father to being a grandfather. In the village, well, Galtür is characterized by its mountains. They haven’t changed, and that’s good.