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An elephant in Andrian – a profile

Haus Elefant. What a strange name. Especially for a holiday flat in Andrian, this village in the midst of green countryside. Whoever calls a house surrounded by orchards and vineyards after an exotic animal? This is what I aim to find out. Today I and my boyfriend are going to spend a weekend in this house.


Above the little village of Andrian – on a gravelly, green hill at 284 metres above sea level between Bozen and Meran – is this Klimahaus A Gold. The hosts are already waiting in the doorway when we get out of the car. Johann Peter Paul Unterkofler, hair flecked with grey, in a shirt and tank top, and his wife Annemarie, wearing a friendly smile and delicate spectacles. “Come on in“, they say.

'Small things count, too...'

The names 'Eppan' and 'Bozen' are on the doors right behind the entrance. Both have been allocated four suns. The latter on the left-hand side is to be our accommodation. It is bright. Friendly. A bottle of local apple juice is there on the table to welcome us. As with each guest. The Unterkofler family places importance on real quality – which may be seen in the little things in particular.

Besides the bright, heated tiled floor, curtains the colour of passion fruit bring warmth to the grey January day. The living room with its modern kitchenette and flat-screen TV leads onto the sunbathing lawn. Unfortunately, this is not the season for sunbathing, but the view across Andrian and the surrounding mountains is still fantastic in winter, too. We admire the famous Rosengarten massif reaching up to the sky. The bathroom is modern, like the furnishings. Everything is very clean. Annemarie says that this is important to her.

Definitely no thick-skinned creature

Now I would finally like an answer to my burning question as to why the house goes by the name of of that thick-skinned creature, the elephant. Johann Peter Paul explains: “Up here are my vines“ and points to the small sloping vineyard above the house. “The land is described as being like an elephant trunk in the land registry, because it is narrow at the top and broad down here.“ Ah, that's where the name 'Elephant' comes from!

In 1900, Lorenz, the grandfather, bought the former Gasserhof with its three hectares of land. Johann Peter Paul inherited the land in 1980. He has lived there on the top floor together with his wife Annemarie since its completion in 2013.

It's quite surprising that someone should choose to start a new project in their retirement. “I just need people around me“, says the pensioner, laughing. Their three children are grown up and that's why the couple are happy to have guests staying in their holiday flats. Johann Peter Paul goes on walks with them, tells them stories about the olden days and on the regular barbecue evenings he has been known to pick up and play his clarinet and saxophone. He used to play in a band, after all.

Contagious Enthusiasm

Annemarie spoils her guests with eggs, jams and delicious-smelling filter coffee for breakfast if they request it. Like her husband, she doesn't do things out of a sense of duty, but for pleasure and with enthusiasm. We look forward to the next day after getting a good night's sleep.

Thanks to the comfy bed our night's sleep is particularly restorative. We are woken by the warming rays of the sun knocking on the window in the morning – Andrian is famous for its morning sun – our host assured us of this right at the start. After breakfast, which lived up to expectations, we get an exclusive guided tour of the house: Johann shows us the cellar with old photos on the wall, his considerable wine collection and the boiler room – the heart of the house – as the whole building is heated with geothermal energy! Then he hands us a bottle of his house wine from his vineyards with the name of 'Elephant Blood' – how fitting.

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