The municipality of Kappl near the entrance to the Paznauntal Valley is divided into 90 tiny hamlets - more than any other in Austria!
Many years ago children in primary schools had to learn by heart the names of the villages and hamlets in their valley. If the teachers in Paznaun subjected their pupils to this particular form of mnemonic torture, then the youngsters would have had to concentrate pretty hard to memorise the 90 (!) settlements in the Paznauntal Valley, from A for Angerhof to W for Wiese! In fact, there is no municipality in Austria with such a high number of separate hamlets and villages.
Long before people settled in the Paznaun Valley, local farmers would drive their cattle up onto the lush high-alpine meadows to graze in spring and summer. Traces of Alemannic dialect brought to the area from the province of Vorarlberg to the west can still be found, for example in the word “Alpen” (“pastures”) which most other Tiroleans refer to as “Almen”. The earliest record of a permanent settlement in the valley dates back to the 13th century. During the following centuries the residents of this far south-western corner of Tirol struggled on a daily basis to make ends meet in this harsh alpine environment. Many chose to leave and seek a better future elsewhere. Things changed, however, in the middle of the 20th century when a road was built connecting the valley to the outside world. Agriculture and tourism are the two main industries here, and attentive skiers and hikers will spot plenty of traces of the region’s old farming traditions.