Emil Zangerl, 85, is the face of Paznaun’s smuggling past. For decades he smuggled goods over from Switzerland into the valley. On skis, too, and mostly when it was really dark. He tells Trisanna some of his best stories. Today: the telltale tights.


“When we were over in Samnaun, we didn’t just take the food which we didn’t have at home – coffee and saccharine. Because at some point the young women back in the village discovered there were pretty stockings over in Switzerland, too. They were very special, because they had a black heel and a black seam. We didn’t have anything like that at home at that time.

One of the women who I went to see at the time lived in the same house as some customs officers. And they of course asked her questions: “Where did you get those nice tights from?” and “Who’s bringing you the stockings?” She didn’t give us away, of course, and just answered that they were a present from a man in Germany.

If you could get hold of those particular stockings, you could really make a good impression on the ladies. That was fun for us. And if we had four or five extra packs of stockings in our rucksacks, it didn’t really make much of a difference.”

More interesting anecdotes from Emil’s smuggling past will be coming soon here in Trisanna.

For hundreds of years, when times were hard, the people of Paznaun brought their products into Samnaun in Switzerland, and bartered them there against other goods. But they had to watch out: it was a cat and mouse game with the customs officers. And where people used to smuggle in the past, there are today three ski routes crossing the border.

Would you like to follow Emil Zangerl’s path into Switzerland? Have a look here: the smuggler route.