A feeling of homeland, a sense of happiness. What makes their town such a special place for people – and why so few people want to move away from Lindau. A stroll through the town on Lake Constance. Text: Florian Kinast
Lindau: Dolce vita at Lake Constance
An October morning, as she looks south towards the lake shore from her house on the hill known as the Schachener Anhöhe. The colourful leaves on the trees, and behind that a billowing mist that casts a veil over the lake.
Above it all the lightly snow-capped mountain peaks, lit up by the rising sun. A chill in the damp air. “For me, these are special moments,” says winemaker Teresa Deufel, “this mood, this gentle melancholy, the light, the air. This is what my home region means to me.”
Lindau and the surrounding area, right on the edge of Bavaria, in its southwestern tip. Bavaria, Austria, Switzerland, three countries and one lake, Lake Constance. A truly distinctive region with truly distinctive people.
Locals who talk about themselves and their relationship with their homeland. About what makes Lindau so attractive. So charming. So unique. And why none of them ever want to move away.
Teresa and her Spannenlanger Hansel
Bad Schachen in the northwest of Lindau. Teresa stands in her winery, three hectares in size. She is surrounded by vines: Solaris, Johanniter, Cabernet Blanc. Avoiding all use of chemicals, they form the purely organic basis for the fruity and aromatic wines that are later bottled under attractive names such as “Spannenlanger Hansel” (=beanpole) or “Sprudeldicke Dirn” (=chubby girl).
Teresa's wines are called "Spannenlanger Hansel" or "Sprudeldicke Dirn"
Earlier, Teresa admits, there were of course times when she wanted to leave, go far away, emigrate, head off into the big wide world. But her plans changed with the death of her father, who had built up the winery in the mid-1970s. She completed her viticulture studies and now runs the winery herself.
She lives here with her partner and two small children. Now she is able to appreciate Lindau and the surrounding area. “I’ve come back home,” she explains.
Apple blossom and beach café
She loves meeting guests in her “Rädle”, the local name for a wine bar associated with a winery. And trips to the Scheidegg waterfalls or to Wasserburg, to Selmnau with its Antoniuskapelle and phenomenal panoramic views of the countryside, to the mountains, to the lake - whatever the time of year.
It’s always wonderful. On such an autumn morning, in the deep snow of winter, in spring with the apple blossom painting nature white and pink, and in summer. Teresa has a special place of well-being for summer days, down at the Lindenhof pool with its beach café, a leisure institution that has been much prized by local Lindau residents since the 1950s.
Teresa spent many happy days there during her childhood and still likes to go there on hot days. Occasionally she will also go there at sunset to enjoy a Currywurst in the beach café. A taste of home.
On the lake to clear your head
Alexander von Bronewski also loves the shoreline at the Lindenhof park, a strip of green that now stretches six kilometres to the Villa Leuchtenberg in the east, on the far side of the bay known as the Reutiner Bucht.
The lake as a source of energy, and of inspiration
Von Bronewski especially loves arriving early in the morning. In the first light of dawn, he paddles out on his canoe. Out on the lake, he is truly alone. “I use these moments to clear my head,” he says, “and charge my batteries for the rest of the day ahead.” The lake as a source of energy, and of inspiration for his work - in his leather workshop. Leather artist.
A large, white house on Schönauer Straße in the north of Lindau, Jugendstil, family-owned. This is home to the Bronewskis, with his sisters and mother above him and Alex in the basement. He has his workshop here, with long rolls of cowhide and horsehide leather stowed under the worktop.
His tools hang on the walls. Rulers and set squares, pliers and planes. Awls, irons, cutters. Plus some Russian ice hockey gloves and an old US mailbag. All made of leather, of course. His element.
When your homeland gets under your skin
Von Bronewski spent years searching, his life resembling the art of canoeing. As a beginner you happily lurch through the water. It takes time to find the right course. He worked in the IT sector as a software specialist until by some chance he started casting belt buckles. All that was lacking was the right belts.
He therefore taught himself the skills of leather manufacturing, travelling through the world, spending six months in South America then moving to Italy - but always coming home in between.
“I never thought I would ever leave completely,” says von Bronewski, “quite the contrary. The more I saw of the world, the clearer it became that I belong in Lindau. The quality of life and the culture here is truly unique.”
One of von Bronewski’s trademark products are his tote bags. The model “Greta” was named after his sister, for whom he used to make the prototypes. Nowadays, his order book is bursting at the seams, with a waiting time of around six months. If you want a Greta, you need to be patient.
Island here, mainland there
Someone who already owns one of his bags is Anne-Sophie Zapf, over on the island. The island with the historic centre that is often assumed, wrongly, to be synonymous with the whole of Lindau - whereas it actually only covers two percent of the entire town. The remaining 98 percent lies to the north.
“On the mainland,” as Zapf says, standing in the narrow Ludwigstraße, halfway between her two start-up shops. On the left: “Der Saftladen”, selling cold-pressed juices made from domestic fruit and vegetables, organic, green, regional and seasonal. On the right: “Die Werke”, a platform for local artists, designers and craftspeople.
Zapf grew up in Lindau, as she later explains over a cup of tea on the terrace of one of the many wonderful cafés and bars in Lindau’s harbour. After studying architecture in Liechtenstein she spent over 10 years on the other side of the lake, where she worked as an expert in sustainable development on various building projects in Vorarlberg, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, taught at universities and colleges and led a major European project.
Then she came back, bringing with her a wealth of experiences and values that she wanted to import into her homeland. Today she talks a great deal about sustainability, in terms of agricultural production as well as consumption for the end consumer.
As I stroll through the wonderfully twisting, narrow streets either side of the broad Maximiliansstraße I meet Angelo De Moliner, wood turner and carver. In his atelier in the Schafgasse, a thin stem of wood is clamped in his lathe. Painted white, it will soon have blue stripes wound round it.
A maypole, commissioned by the landlord of the hotel opposite. “It’s actually not typical of the work I do,” says De Moliner. His regular work can be seen in the gallery next door. Objects and vessels, all made of wood. Arolla pine from the Zillertal, horse chestnut from Lindau. Or ash from Berne. His homeland.
Lake Constance as a place that makes you happy
Five years ago, De Moliner moved with his wife from Switzerland to Lindau, and discovered this beautiful empty premises on the island. It soon became his new home, both for himself and for his craft.
“Lake Constance is a magical place,” he continues. “Seeing it and feeling it ..."
He talks of the warmth of the local people, the openness of the residents. But also of his work, of how he sources his trees, how he tries to understand them all in order to incorporate the character of each tree in its entirety.
“I want to read each tree,” he says, “so that after the metamorphosis to its new form of existence, its specific properties still live on.” And his new home? “Lake Constance is a magical place,” he continues. “Seeing it and feeling it, and even smelling it when the Föhn wind blows, that makes me very happy.”
Sundowners on the lake
In the mild early evening, I am drawn back to the lake to enjoy a sundowner at a small kiosk. The view over the water to the mountains, with tourists and day trippers in the foreground, having a wonderful time to the left and right of the two famous sights.
Lindau is both lion and lighthouse, but so much more besides. Above all, it is a place with a good vibe, which reveals itself in different ways to different people. The location by mountains and lake, the warmth of the people, the sense of homeland, the place of creativity. All these form part of the sense of happiness here. And sometimes a canoe. Or a Currywurst at the lido.