Europe

The Sound of Music

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There’s no pergola where Rolf promised to protect Joanna and the Baron declared his love for Maria. The modest main staircase is a creaky Austrian walnut without a hint of a grand spiral. The main sitting room would never accommodate more than a few dozen of Hollywood’s most glamorous bit players.

A train runs along the back of the property to Aiglen station, from which the von Trapps left on a well-publicized Italian-American tour—with no nun subterfuge and no night time flight over the alps. And the wall around the house comes courtesy of Nazi Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, who turned the villa into a private resort after the family declined to return.

And yet… The minute you enter, you hear The Sound of Music, even if it echoes from inside your head. The family wasn’t particularly fond of the movie with its light-hearted American twist on personalities and events. But the movie runs throughout the place, alongside and intermingled with the brave and bold Austrian reality. It’s all rather spooky in a way—not one, but two lost worlds here, precarious1930s Austria and fresh-faced 1960s America.

The last of the von Trapps passed away in 2016. We stayed in the room of the younger Maria, the second daughter who inevitably grew up and died too soon in childbirth. In the breakfast room, the children sang madrigals from an ancient player in an old recording. It was all rather nice and sad at the same time.

Categories: Europe

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