Strictly speaking, the Lower Inntal Valley begins a few kilometres west of Innsbruck, where the Melach drains into Tirol’s main river. But then again: try telling someone from Innsbruck or Hall that they are an “Unterinntaler” (from the Lower Inn Valley)! The greater Innsbruck area, with its two cities and several villages is, so to speak, no man’s land. The Lower Inn Valley, often wrongly described as “Unterland” (lowland), begins at the very earliest, east of the old salt-mine city of Hall – and even that is not certain. Someone from Schwaz or even Zillertal, for example, only profess to entering the lowlands when they travel much further eastwards, towards Kufstein.
The purported gnarly and taciturn nature of the “Oberinntaler” (highland dwellers) is more than made up for by the “Unterländer” (lowland dwellers – those that live in the Lower Inn Valley and its tributary valleys) and their notorious frivolity and, quite disconcerting for the Oberländer, vivaciousness. This is evident, even for non-locals, in the clearly perceptible differences in regional dialects. Here, an example from everyday life: When an Oberländer demands an “Oa“ (egg) for breakfast, the “Unterländer” will cheerfully order a “Goggei“. Any more questions on the idiosyncrasies of the Tirolean vernacular?
The Lower Inntal is bordered by no lesser mighty mountain ranges as the headwaters of the River Inn. It is, however, flatter and wider than the Upper Inntal, gentler, less oppressive and therefore less threatening in its appearance. In many respects, this is where it all happens. Almost half of the 800,000 Tirolean populace live in the Lower Inntal and most of the province’s large industrial enterprises have settled in this region. There is still room left over for farms that are large enough, and therefore profitable enough, to be operated by families as their main occupation. Furthermore, the main road and rail routes run through this part of Tirol. Anyone travelling from east to west within Austria, or heading south from the north via Rosenheim in Germany, will pass through the Lower Inntal. Rather than driving through the Lower Inntal, however, it is always worthwhile to stop and stay for a while – in a lovely area with friendly people.
This summer, I wrote about the various Tirolean valleys and told stories of so much life in so little space in the series “Valley Life“. I want to introduce visitors from all over the world to Tirol and open local people’s eyes to the very special aspects of their otherwise familiar environment.