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Peter Mathis - Photographer

Having worked internationally as a photographer, I can say that the Vorarlberg landscape truly inspires me.

Peter Mathis © Vorarlberg Tourismus
In the Vorarlberg I am inspired by:
The variety of the landscape. Within 100km you get everything, from lakes to the mountains of the Silvretta with their glaciers and peaks over 3000m. Amidst all of this there is architecture in all styles. Timber-framed, concrete or glass and steel buildings. Architecture that is designed to be durable, pointing the way ahead, modern, varied, stylish, suited to the landscape or simply just beautiful. Then there is the Rhine Valley and the Walgau, with urban areas offering the best in culture: cabaret, amateur theatre, satirical shows, music and top class classical festivals in dance or song such as the Bregenzer Frühling, the Schubertiade and the Bregenz Festival, plus exhibitions of the work of international artists in the Kunsthaus Bregenz.
 
My favourite activity in the mountains:
Most definitely mountain biking.  I don’t need a car, and can start from my front door. Doing a short or long circuit, just depending on the time available and my mood. Stopping off here or there, having a break at a mountain hut or a small hotel, before heading back down the valley.
 
A circuit that I always enjoy doing:
By train to Rankweil. From there in the direction of the Landeskrankenhaus Rankweil and then Übersaxen. Along the Netschelweg right up the Laternsertal to Bad Laterns, via Gapfohl and Furx to Batschuns, and along various cycle tracks back home.
 
My art and culture tip is:
To take a walk in the really early morning on the Pfänder with a view of Bregenz and Lake Constance. Afterwards, a visit to the vorarlberg museum, which gives its guests an idea of what it means to be a “Vorarlberger”. Lunch by Lake Constance and, in the afternoon, a visit to the Werkraum Bregenzerwald, specialising in architecture and crafts. This is my ideal day, combining rest with exercise in the countryside in the early morning. Body and mind are fit and refreshed for a varied programme, which will only end late in the evening with a glass of red wine.
 
The best regional product is:
Wild garlic and the cep mushroom. Both taste best when gathered by your own hands. Ideally I roam through the forest in early spring, but depending on the weather sometimes even as early as the middle of February. At particularly favourable warm spots the first green leaves of the wild garlic are peeping out. The really young leaves are best. Later on there is always a fine aroma of garlic in the air, the forest floor is covered with a sea of wild garlic leaves from which the white spheres with small stars blooming on them push through. Wild garlic is so versatile when used in cooking. In spreads, soups, risottos, sauces, etc. My preferred version is potato salad mixed with wild garlic.

In late summer or autumn comes the cep mushroom. Gathered oneself, of course. The good places are kept secret. Supper is the result of one’s searches. You either go hungry, or tuck into risotto with plenty of ceps. And if the year is particularly good, there is even cep terrine. The exciting thing is that one never knows what the result will be. Did other people get there before me? Am I too late or too early? Given the weather, has the cep been able to grow properly? The search develops into a hunt. And then the disappointment if, after hours of searching, there are only two cep mushrooms in the bag, or else, elation, joy and delight if the bag is full and friends can be invited to supper once again.
 
My favourite place for switching off:
A walk by the Old Rhine from Lustenau or Hohenems in the direction of Altach. I am right by the water, yet still have a constant view of the foothills of the Alps. A narrow track leads between old gravel workings. All along the way I witness nature at its best, a varied world of plants which changes colour with the seasons, from the white blossom of the bushes in spring, to the green plants in summer, and yellow, red and brown leaves and reeds in autumn. In winter there is the lustrous sandthorn on the dark, almost black twigs. On the water there are swans and ducks splashing about.
 
A circuit that I am fond of in the summer is to hike from the Alpgebiet Schuttanen on forest roads and tracks to the saddle of the Boxberg. The route leads through a sphagnum bog towards the Hinterberg Alpe and up a moderately steep grass-covered slope to the Wendkopf. There one has a magnificent panoramic view of the Alpstein massif, South Germany, Lake Constance and the Dornbirner Firstgebiet or Freschen and the Hohe Kugel area.

Peter Mathis, International Photographer