Salzburg – the hills are a lie

To Salzburg, where the hills are alive with tourist guides giving Hollywood a right telling off for taking liberties.

The small city makes its living from tourism, and everyone in tourism has to know about The Sound of Music, especially if they want to work with the Brits and Americans.  One of the most popular sightseeing tours is the Sound of Music tour (only in English).

We did a half day walking tour of the old city, but there were times when I wondered if we were on a Sound of Music tour by mistake.

The film is really not very accurate at all, our guide said sternly, as we made our way from the hotel towards the old city on a hot morning.  There were in fact two films made in German in the 1950s which were much more truthful: the Von Trapp Family and the Von Trapp Family in America. These films inspired the Sound of Music – Broadway musical, followed by Hollywood musical.

The Benedictines did not want filming in their graveyard. The wedding scene was not filmed in Salzburg.  Maria could not possibly have made it back to the city in a few minutes from the mountain where she ran about, singing her head off.  And that mountain over which they are supposed to have walked to freedom in Switzerland in fact marks the border with Germany – so they would hardly have walked that way. Salzburg is nowhere near Switzerland.  In fact they went by train to Italy.  The grand house used for filming was not the von Trapp home. None of this comes as a great surprise, to be honest.  It’s only a movie. 

mozartEventually Mozart forced his way into our tour – a green statue outside the Salzburg museum.  A crowd of non-British tourists packed the narrow street outside the house where Mozart was born, queuing to have their pictures taken with a man in a wig and frock coat.  We moved swiftly on.

After crossing the river which somehow looked less blue than in the film we passed a puppet theatre where The Sound of Music was scheduled for that evening. How would they deal with the puppet show scene, in a puppet show, we wondered, but our guide was too busy preparing us for the excitement of seeing the fountain where Maria and the children actually danced in do-re-mi.

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After the walking tour we felt we had just enough energy for one museum visit, and chose the Panorama museum where a beautiful 18th century wraparound landscape painting of the city is displayed, in the round, with telescopes.

It was a pleasantly low impact sightseeing experience, and we were glad we chose it.  Would we have done so if the Panorama Museum had not had a temporary exhibition dedicated to the true story of Maria and the Von Trapp family?  Probably not.     

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