Ingrid and the rebirth of Fai della Paganella Castle
Tuesday 4 August 2020
Ingrid, Baroness Craigher von Jachelutta, is an attractive lady with blue eyes, long blond hair, and an elegant manner that reveals something of the noble history of her family.
After being introduced I was immediately reminded of a description of my mother as a child. She was a tiny girl with blue eyes and blond ringlets and for two years in a row she was cast as baby Jesus in the Fai nursery-school Christmas play.
It is enjoyable listening to Ingrid talk about her years in the Castle, narrated in excellent Italian with the extra charm of a slight German accent and a French R.
Ingrid and her siblings lived in the Castle until 1962 when they moved to Germany, while their grandmother who was born in 1894, the Baroness Carla Unterrichter de Rechtenthal, continued living there until 1972.
Their grandmother came from an extremely rich and cultured Cividale family. She had studied at the best colleges, spoke six languages, and was one of the first European women in the early 1900s to graduate with a degree in art history and figurative arts, specializing in painting and sculpture. She passed on her enthusiasm to Ingrid, which is testified in every corner of the castle.
In 2017 Ingrid started renovating the ground floor with the support of her husband Andreas Hahn and her sons Luca and Ben. Then together with her cousins she began restoring the building facade, personally overseeing the works. Her aim is to keep alive the history of her family, among the most important in Tyrol and dating back to the 13th century (for example, Gianmichele Spaur-Altmetz was Prince-Bishop of Trent from 1696 to 1725).
“Such an important history,” explains Ingrid, “deserves to be brought back to life and shared again with the inhabitants of the entire Paganella community, who were very proud of their 'Ciastel', and also with visiting tourists who love historic dwellings”.
Her grandparents always had strong ties and a special interest in the village of Fai della Paganella. During the bleak years of the last war, when the local inhabitants were short of food, her grandfather, Baron Eugenio de Unterrichter and son of the last Countess Spaur, arranged transport of flour and fruit cultivated in the gardens of their Castle of Mezzolombardo, property of the family up until 1940. This was the year they moved definitively to Fai della Paganella, living in what had until then only been used as a hunting lodge.
During the visit we stopped to admire the great hall with its perfectly conserved 1700s furniture, restored frescoes, and portraits of the female figures who had often played very important roles in the Spaur and de Unterrichter dynasties, so much so that the right wing of the building is dedicated to them.
A very nostalgic memory emerged for Ingrid during our visit to the garden, framed with a gorgeous crenellated wall. The ripe red fruit on the currant bushes and the peace that filled the air reminded her of long afternoons spent with her grandmother picking fruit and making jams.
“There is a special light and atmosphere here”, Ingrid added, “my family and I are strongly attached to this place, and we come back as often as our commitments allow”.
Her grandfather, Baron Eugenio de Unterrichter, was more closely involved with the inhabitants of the village, helping them translate German documents, and as a lawyer also dealing with legal issues. The grandmother was much stricter and more severe than he was, a strong little woman who demanded order and discipline if you wanted to avoid being punished.
Ingrid still remembers with simultaneous embarrassment and amusement, how on the first pew of the church her grandmother scolded any children who did not pay attention to the mass, hitting them with the heavy prayer book or the end of her umbrella. Nobody in the village dared to challenge her.
Our visit continued with all the surprise and charm of an important history of culture, wealth, and humanity, along with a rediscovered sense of pride of a village that, in its simplicity, has been able to conserve its tradition and natural setting.
Built in 1620 as a summer residence and hunting lodge by the family ancestors, the Counts Spaur-Altmetz. The Fai residence has always remained a family property.
In the middle of the 1800s the male Spaur-Almetz line died out with the death of the brothers Johann Nepomucene and Carl Franz Spaur. The entire inheritance including Fai Castle in Fai della Paganella and surrounding grounds, and the main residence of Spaur-Altmetz Castle in Mezzolombardo passed to their sister Elisabetta, who married Count Eugenio Welsberg. The inheritance then passed on to their daughter Giovanna Eugenia Welsberg, who married Baron Alfredo Unterrichter de Rechthental of Caldaro.
Ever since the Fai residence has also been known as “Castle Unterrichter”.
the residential wing
TORRE DEL BARON
The left wing is dedicated to the Unterrichter family. As soon as you enter, on the wall above the bed is a life-size portrait of Alfredo Unterrichter, the husband of Eugenia Spaur. It dates back to 1915 and depicts Alfredo at the age of 62 as a retired army officer and President of the Arco Casino, formerly a popular meeting place for 1800s European society. Two old photographs in their original frames show Alfredo with Eugenie and their son Eugenio Karl Franz.
On the northern wall there is a representation of the entire Unterrichter family tree.
Franz Sales was probably the best known family figure and the Unterrichter owe to him their elevation to baronship in 1836. He was a poet, lawyer, politician, and a member of the Frankfurt Parliament. He had very liberal views for his times.
RESIDENZA DELLE CONTESSE
The wing to the right of the entrance is dedicated to the family ancestors, the Counts Spaur-Altmetz. The two bedrooms have portraits of the Spaur ladies of the 1700s. In the corridor there are portraits of Elisabetta Spaur's parents. The marvellous Spaur-Altmetz coat of arms is hung alongside: a red lion rampant with paired goblets in the first and fourth quadrants and the second and third quadrants coloured silver blue depicting a staff with red band.
The restored ceiling fresco in the great hall shows the coat of arms of the Spaur-Welsberg alliance of Elisabetta Spaur and Eugenio Welsberg, surrounded by the insignia of the Spaur, Welsberg, and Unterrichter families.
Photos by Ben van Skyhawk
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