The Museum Walser in Alagna

    The Museum Walser that represents very well the German/Swiss culture of the area reminded me of an open air museum we have in Germany not far from where I spend all my summers. In fact, the culture of the Almanac Museum called the Vogtsbauernhof and the Walser Museum have a lot in common: wooden self contained farm houses, stables of the animals in the bottom of the building, heat of the animals used for "central heating system" throughout the living quarters, dress, manufacturing of all goods and products for the every day life etc. One item, however, that stuck out -- and is not used in any other area in the German or non German speaking parts of the world -- are the wooden railings around the entire building. Although these do look like fences, they are actually used to hang up the grass for drying before it can be stored in the hay loft. This is necessary in this area because summers are very wet and the farmers would not be able to bring in dry hey to store for the winter months.
    Until today the houses are built in this fashion. The foundation is always built from stone, the rest from wood. First, they are very light brown in color because of the fresh wood. The buildings are built from larch which darkens over the years into a brownish, almost black color. One positive aspect of larch is that it gets very hard and no insects will infest the buildings.
    The language of the Walser is an old German language. A lot of words are similar to how people speak in the Almanac dialect area today. In Alagna people say Hus for Haus (house) just like in the very southern part of Germany. Also, on some older buildings you could see the German words written--another sign that this area once was inhabited entirely by German and Swiss settlers.


Sonja Hott