The Saltner is a traditional, but real character which watched over the vineyards in the area of Lake Caldaro for centuries.
Every year the Saltners were chosen among the young and unmarried men of the village: their task was to chase away and scare off birds and thieves from the vineyards from the St. James’s Day, the 25th of July, or from St. Lawrence’s Day, the 10th of August, until the grape harvest. Moreover they also used to lend a helping hand to the winegrowers. Usually the Saltner had its own tower, called Saltner Tower, in order to protect the vineyards night and day.
So if you speak about the Saltner, you actually speak about the protectors of vineyards, wearing leather spats and leather trousers as well as a broad embroidered belt. Round their neck, they used to wear chains with wild boar teeth and teeth of several rodents, as well as a hat decorated with peacock and black cock feathers. Also fox tails were used as decorative elements for the outfit of the Saltner. His main working tool was a halberds-like pike.
Today the character of the Saltner can be admired in the South Tyrolean Wine Museum in the centre of Caldaro, in different local museums and in several festive occasions. Around 1950 the profession of the Saltner died out in this form, but still today in the area of the Alpi di Siusi the shepherd, who takes care of the cattle on the alpine pastures, is called Saltner.