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 found at 1427m 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 Lesachtal Valley bakery was reconstructed in Tokyo in 2008 is a tribute to the Lesachtal residents and their way of life, handed down from generation to generation. The Japanese journeymen, who today bake 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 1179m above sea level, there are 5 water-driven mills, regularly operated 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. Along 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 hikes with local experts, who can talk not only about the mills, but also about the related museum and life in this upland valley.
At the annual festival, all 5 mills are in operation, their paddles splashing delightfully in the mill stream. Those visitors opting for farmstay holidays 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. Regional specialities are offered to accompany the bread at a farmers' buffet, and a run of wine stalls with top Austrian wine and a craft area with products made in the valley invite visitors to enjoy further pleasures. There is also a series of events for children that will convince even the youngest that breadmaking is indeed a true art.
For further information on the Lesachtal Valley, please visit:
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