My thanks to Otta Wenskus for the following tips. They offer practical advice if you are looking for a flat or house near Innsbruck… And entertaining clues if you are not.
“When flat-hunting near Innsbruck, a colleague advised me to avoid villages the etymologies of whose names are immediately transparent and instead opt for one only someone versed in historical linguistics would understand, i.e. a very old name.
Why? Because old names are a sign that you are in an area protected from most natural disasters, or at least in an area which is safer than most.
Most of Tyrol is totally unsuitable for permanent settlements, so the few places which are were snapped up before the start of the great migrations when German-speaking tribes moved in, and if you find a nice place close to the centre of a village with a really old name and lots of old houses, you ought to be on the safe side.
But, before signing the contract on a sunny day in June, my colleague continued, make sure you get some sun the whole year round. For me, this meant: look at the vegetation. Are all the plants shade tolerant? Chances are you will not get a single ray of sunshine for up to four months, during which you will look at the dazzlingly blue sky above you and kick yourself for having been so stupid.
So, when I was offered a flat in Mutters (which proved on linguistic analysis to mean “on a moraine”, not what it sounds like), a charming place with great public transport and apricot trees on trellises I moved there and stayed there.”
Some notes from Otta Wenskus on the picture above:
“On this postcard we are facing in a south-south-westerly direction, and
the shadows plus the vegetation (that is corn, in the sense of zea mays,
between the little train and the village; I suppose so, at least – that
is what they usually plant there) show that it is the middle of the
morning in summer. Now, having a substantial mountain in the south south
west means there will be shadows later in the day, but when? In summer
the shadows reach the village in the evening, in midwinter around noon.
You may also notice that the top part of the mountain (the Saile or
Nockspitze) looks prone to avalanches, which it is, but they do not come
far enough to endanger the houses.”