Friday, December 07, 2012

Ramsau—Our new hiking tour in Germany and a painting by Thomas Fearnley




Now here’s a nice painting.

The work is called Ramsau, and it’s an oil on paper, painted en plein air and laid on canvas by Norwegian artist, Thomas Fearnley (1802-1842). 

Ramsau holds a lot of meaning for us because it’s a picturesque stop on our new Alpino Wunderbar hiking tour. Located in the Berchtesgaden National Park, just outside of Berchtesgaden, Germany, Ramsau is a quintessential southern Bavarian village.

This particular sketch is dated 1832, but like so many fairytale villages in the Alps, the Ramsau of today looks virtually identical to the tranquil hamlet that Fearnley painted 180 years ago. While, admittedly, the simple dirt track is now a modern road, tradition lives on in Ramsau. Women still rake hay in traditional dress, cows gather on the hillside and thin wisps of woodsmoke promise home cooked Bavarian meals and a warm bed. 

The Gasthof Oberwirt, the prominent building in the foreground, is a Bavarian inn that has been welcoming travelers for 500 years. The church in the background, with its onion-domed steeple that is characteristic of the region, is called Pfarrkirche St. Sebastian, (literally translated—parochial church St. Sebastian). The church was built in 1512. 

The mountain in the background is called the Hoher Göll (2,522 meters). With an elevation of just over 8,000 feet, the Hoher Göll is not a particularly tall mountain by Alps standards, but it is significant because it straddles the border between the German state of Bavaria and the Austrian city of Salzburg. The Hoher Göll is also a pleasure to admire and photograph, as evidenced by Fearnley’s work. 

Did Thomas Fearnley stay at the Gasthof Oberwirt during his sejour in Ramsau? We don’t know. What we do know is that Thomas Fearnley and his traveling companions, Wilhelm Bendz and Joseph Petzl, spent one week in the village during their 700-kilometer (435 mile) walk to Italy. (Climbers—Note Joseph’s last name!) According to diary entries by Bendz, the date of this painting, September 20th, 1832, was the last day the trio stayed in the village before continuing their hike across the Alps and into Italy.

If you’d like more info on Thomas Fearnley, or the history of this work, then head over to My Daily Art Display. The site's author, Jonathan, wrote a nice piece about Fearnley and Ramsau, so we won’t replicate the story here. Just give Jonathan a visit, and then check out our new Alpino Wunderbar hiking tour. We spend three days hiking in the vicinity of Ramsau and Berchtesgaden, Germany before moving across the border to Kitzbühel, Austria. We finish our week-long, transalpine hiking tour in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, famous for its stunning location in the heart of the Italian Dolomites. 

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