Home-made bread is an expression of wealth and the joy of living in the Lesachtal valley in Carinthia.
In this romantic upland valley, where the river Gail flows, and on the heights above it, with broad and steep slopes, fields and farms that are home to the mountain farmers (the highest being at 1,427 metres above sea level), being self-sufficient has always been vital for survival. That explains the many mills alongside the waterway and why the planting of grain for bread, particularly wheat, has survived. The fact that a bakery
from the Lesachtal Valley
was reconstructed as a working model in Tokyo in 2008 serves as the definitive confirmation of the residents of the Lesachtal in their way of life, handed down from generation to generation
. The Japanese journeymen, who are today baking bread in the style of this valley in Tokyo, even took an apprenticeship with a master baker in the area to learn their trade.
In Maria Luggau, a pilgrimage site some 1,179m above sea level, there are five water-driven mills, regularly operated by their owners for the milling of grain. With expert care, slowly and delicately, the grain is milled between the millstones. This gives the flour the right start in life, and the Lesachtal bread its rich, fruity taste
. Travelling the mill walking route, visitors can track the path from corn to bread and, to complete the tour, bite into this delicacy in a Lesachtal farm shop. It's particularly exciting to take the guided tours with local experts
, who can talk not only about the mills but also the related museum and life in this upland valley.
At the annual festival, all five mills are in operation, their paddles splashing delightfully in the mill stream. Those visitors opting to holiday on a farm
usually experience the breadmaking at first hand - from preparing the dough through to the cutting, before which the cutter's hand still marks out three crosses on the loaf, in thanks and as a blessing that the bread should never run out.
In Liesing in the first weekend in September, bread is prepared at the Lesachtal Bread Festival
(exhibition breadmaking). Regional specialities are offered to accompany the bread at a farmers' buffet. A run of wine stalls with top Austrian wines and a craft area with products made in the valley invite visitors to enjoy further pleasures. And a series of events for children will convince even the youngest of the fascination that is bread.For further information on the Lesachtal Valley, please visit: www.lesachtal.com