The Squire Farms of Val Passiria were stone dwellings resembling a small castle and hosting noblemen. These noblemen, appointed squires by the Earls of Tyrol, had both privileges and duties. From 1420 the farms lost their function. Tourists can visit them with a walk of about two hours.
During the Middle Age, stone dwellings were built in the strategic sites of the valley, partly for the noblemen who wanted to be near Tirolo Castle, and partly for the locals that served the Earls of Tyrol. Nowadays these houses are often covered with ivy, but you can still see the frescoes and sundials that embellished their walls.
In 1317 eleven noblemen were awarded for their loyalty by the earls with the freedom letter, granting them lifelong tax exemption and the right to fish and hunt freely, in exchange of some favors: serve the regent inside the region of Tyrol, provide supplies with their hunting, and guard the castle during celebrations.
In 1420 the Earls of Tyrol left Merano and went to Innsbruck, thus the Squire Farms lost their function. Nowadays you can visit them with an easy two hour walk through forests, meadows and panoramic viewpoints.
The 11 farms of the shield
There are 11 farms in the Val Passiria. Seven of them are located in San Martino in Passiria: Gereuth, Baumkirch, Kalm, Granstein, Haupold, Saltaus and Steinhaus. Four are located around San Leonardo in Passiria: Happerg, Ebion, Buchenegg and Gomion. The latter boasts a noteworthy pointed arch door and stone coat of arms.
The shield farms trail
Today they can be visited on an easy two-hour walk through woods, meadows and vantage points. It starts in the village of Saltusio at the Saltaus shield farmstead, where there is information and interesting facts about these special structures. Continue via the Haupold farm to the Granstein farm. The route then returns to Saltusio along the Passirio river.