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TRUE LOCALS
Tessa Mellinger

von Tessa Mellinger

November 14, 2019

TRUE LOCALS

Region originals: Monika and Hansi Bantl

The Leutasch Valley has a population of 2,380. Two of them are Monika and Hansi "Bantl" Neuner. They stand for Leutasch like hardly anyone else: They are rooted here and do a lot to help others get to know this beautiful spot. Events such as the Leutasch Chapel Advent are thanks to them. Hansi told us about their life and work in Leutasch.

Hansi „Bantl“ Neuner

Hansi usually introduces himself as "Bantl Hansi" - although his real name is Hans Neuner. Confusing? No, on the contrary: He has been called "Bantl" since he was a child. Because if you search for "Hans Neuner" in the telephone directory in Leutasch, you will find more than 10 entries. To avoid confusion, Hansi was given the name of the farm where he grew up: the Bantl farm. That's where Hansi was born 70 years ago, grew up there and spent the longest part of his life in the "Luitasch", as the locals pronounce it. This is where his roots are - buried deep and solid in the soil of the Leutasch Valley. This has shaped Hansi as a person: He is a loyal person, honest, charismatic - and full of ideas.

Portrait of Hansi Bantl

He who rests, rests

Hansi's professional career was anything but a "straight path". First, he studied at the agricultural school. "At that time, it was taken for granted that you would go into agriculture," he says. "Besides, the school in Imst was quite good!". This was followed by an apprenticeship as a professional hunter. This profession even took him halfway around the world: he spent a year on an estancia, an estate, in Patagonia, Argentina. But at some point, hunting was over for him. But Hansi is a person who always has new ideas. So he started as a hiking guide in the summer, and in the winter he worked as a cross-country skiing instructor. A Tyrolean, as he stands in the book, you could say. With the professions as a hiking guide and cross-country skiing instructor, Hansi has found his true calling. Because he not only has a good feeling for people, but also knows (almost) everything about nature and its inhabitants.

HansiBantl-MonikaBantl-0118-06-2K-MP.mp4
Nature, a sacred spot on earth

Anyone who has ever been with him in the mountains knows: No one knows more than Hansi! He knows every leaf, every animal sound, and simply every stone in Leutasch. "I got that from my parents," he reveals. "My father knew a lot about the plants, what you can eat and what not - that saved his life in Russia." That's because he was a prisoner there during the war. "His knowledge went down quite well with the Russians," Hansi smiles. "They saved everyone from starvation, and so the Russians must have liked him quite a bit!". The father also passed on this knowledge to his children. Of course, Hansi did not know everything at the beginning of his work as a hiking guide. But if Hansi doesn't have an answer ready, he always says: "I don't know today. But go with me again tomorrow, then I'll know!".

Hansi Bantl's hands in the snow

Where nature, culture and history unite

16 kilometers long, the Leutasch Valley stretches in all its beauty. It counts 25 hamlets and borders directly on Germany, the next town over the border is Mittenwald.

Hansi and Monika say about the "Luitasch", their home: "There is probably no more beautiful spot on earth!". They also want to show this beauty to others and so they organize very special events three times a year. The first one starts in spring, which always arrives a little later in the mountains than in the rest of the world. In June, when the first alpine flowers are blooming, Monika and Hansi Bantl organize the Mountain Spring Days. A week is spent hiking, enjoying nature, learning and eating delicious food. It is the perfect beginning of a mountain summer. Exactly this they let end again in autumn: Hansi passes on his hunter knowledge at the Ganghofer Hubertuswochen. But one event perhaps surpasses these two by a small bit: The Leutascher Kapellenadvent.

Chapel Advent in Leutasch

An Advent tradition like no other: The Leutasch Chapel Advent

It has now been 16 years since Hansi and Monika started the Leutasch Chapel Advent. "At first there were more people from the music there than guests!" laughs Hansi. But they encouraged them to continue this very special tradition without fail. And today, every Friday and Saturday in Advent, up to 200 people come to Leutasch to experience the Chapel Advent.

It is a tradition that brings back the peace, reflection and the real Advent season. Only the torches and lanterns of the participants light the way as they walk from chapel to chapel through the Leutasch Valley.

Whoever trudges through the snow, watches the soft flickering of the torches, pauses at the chapels and listens to the soft sounds of the music, feels it: the arrival. The arrival of inner peace, reflection and peace with oneself.

At the chapels we pause and tell the story of the chapels. The oldest chapel in the valley, the Zenznkapelle in Unterleutasch, dates back to around 1660.

After the hike there is a "Hoangart", a stop at an inn. "The stop is just as much a part of the Advent season," says Hansi. He is happy that the inns in Leutasch often open up especially on these days for the guests of the Chapel Advent and always cook something special that is not otherwise available. Often these are almost forgotten, traditional and delicious recipes."

And also the Musi always makes me very happy!", Hansi tells. Music groups and singers from all over the Alpine region now ask Hansi if they can accompany the Kapellenadvent once. The joy and gratitude is written all over Hansi's face, who himself has been with the Musi since his younger years. His smile reaches over both ears, while he can sing along to every song of the choirs.

A faithful soul

Hansi has his heart in the right place. And with Monika, the organizational talent of the two, you can only like the duo. Their guests have also grown very fond of them over the years and have become real friends. "Over the years, you go through a lot together! And sometimes I'm also a little bit of a confessor," Hansi smiles. He enjoys nothing more than being able to welcome his guests again and again to beautiful Leutasch. For over 20 years, many of them have come to the region up to three times a year because of Hansi and Monika. "I still have a regular group from my time as a cross-country ski instructor," Hansi tells us. "I promised them after my retirement: as long as they live and as long as I live, I'll go cross-country skiing with them!". For 32 years, the troupe from the Waaterkant, from the far north of Germany, has been coming to Tyrol. For a long time the Nordlichter and Hansi were notorious in the inns. "Last winter, there were still four of the group. But I don't care!" says Hansi. "The date stands, and until the last nimmer comes, I'm sure there!".

Portrait of Monika and Hansi Bantl

You must also be able to indulge

"I don't really have a motto for my life," says Hansi. But one saying accompanies him through life: "Live and let live!". He means: "If I am happy, then others should also be happy! Hansi and Monika contribute a great deal to this. With their events they enrich the whole region. They not only bring people to us from afar, but also ensure that the people of Leutasch themselves experience and enjoy their valley and its culture. And how should it continue? "Yes, stay as it is, tuat's never!", says Hansi. "But I wish that the development goes more in the direction of sustainability and that we appreciate what we have in our beautiful nature."

Monika and Hansi Bantl in the snow

Hansi's and Monika's events: Chapel Advent and more

The chapel walks as part of the Leutasch Chapel Advent take place on the four Advent weekends every Friday and Saturday at 5 pm. Registration for the hike is not required. However, reservations are requested at the inns if you would like to join in the refreshments afterwards.

Also with the mountain spring days Hansi and Monika are pleased about old and new faces. There is hiking, learning, laughing and delicious food. At the Ganghofer Hubertuswochen you can learn more about hunting and culture in Leutasch and Gaistal.

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