She was one of the first women in Kaltern to run a guesthouse on her own, and she did it for over 40 years. Back then, her guesthouse, which would later be renamed GIUS – La Residenza, was simply called “GIUS”. But who was this emancipated, smartly dressed woman with a distinctive aura and a ready wit that the whole village nicknamed “Glückweibi”?
Her name was Maria Glück Gius, born in Kaltern on 31 July 1932 at the old local hospital. Even as a baby, born prematurely in the seventh month, she already possessed a warrior’s heart. Maria survived – a bundle wrapped in cotton wool and placed next to the families bakery oven to keep her warm.
She spent her childhood with her parents in Kaltern, where they lived above their bakery in the village centre. During the Second World War, the Fascist regime invaded South Tyrol and forced the Italianisation of local names. Maria’s family were supposed to rename their bakery from “Glück” to “Fortuna” (both meaning “Luck”). Maria’s mother, however, refused – she had a fighting spirit that she passed on to her daughter. As a consequence, the family were forced to close the shop. It was just a temporary setback though: as theirs was the only bakery in the area that could provide the local population with vital bread, they were allowed to reopen a few weeks later.
They were hard times, and the Glück family tried to help the poverty-stricken families in Kaltern to the best of their ability, despite having to deal with financial problems of their own. Maria bore her share of the burden: when she was only eight, her parents had to sell her beloved zither to pay the grain supplier’s bill
Maria was 13 years old when she first met the love of her life. His name was Arthur Gius, and he was a farmer’s son who used to deliver milk to the Glück bakery. Arthur was also a great Schuhplattler (traditional Tyrolean folk dancer), which impressed the young Maria. The two were destined to become a couple and spend the rest of their lives together.
In 1956 her son Gerhard was born; six years later her daughter Gerda. In the 1960s, she also re-opened the Glück bakery with the help of her husband and parents. Around the same time, Maria took an important step for the future of her family.
She and Arthur opened their own guesthouse. “It was the first guesthouse in Kaltern with en-suite bathrooms, something she was particularly proud of” granddaughter Vera chortles. It was Maria who ran the guesthouse. Arthur worked as a farmer and Maria’s father supported her by looking after his grandchildren Gerda and Gerhard. As a family arrangement, it was ahead of its time – as was the mindset Maria Glück had inherited from her parents. In fact, she always was very open-minded and forward-thinking, as well as resolute.
Soon after retiring, just as Grandma Maria and Grandpa Arthur were finally starting to spend quality time together, Arthur sadly passed away. Maria had now lost her soul mate, but she carried on, always remaining a cornerstone of the family – a role she both demanded and enjoyed. Sisters Mara and Vera have fond memories of their grandma: “We used to call her at the stroke of midnight on every New Year’s Eve – she insisted that we did! We also had a permanent invitation to lunch at her place every Saturday. She was a great cook and baker! She also used to drop by at La nonnaglück every day, always on foot.” Maria contributed to GIUS until the very the end, charming the guests with her good tips, fun stories and friendly chats.
A profoundly sensitive person, Maria Glück also possessed and radiated incredible strength. Mara and Vera describe their grandmother as a fair, helpful woman who “always had the best advice”. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, quite the opposite! Maria Glück was known as one who didn’t mince words, though she had a very charming and polite way of making her point. This was why everyone liked her.
Honest, fair, diligent and helpful – these are the words that best portray Grandma Glück. A vulnerable yet steadfast woman with a strong sense of family and justice who was also a great listener. A quality that earnt her the love and appreciation of everyone she crossed paths with, and especially her family.
“As it happens, when we decided to name our boutique café “La nonnaglück” she was really unimpressed. Then it kind of grew on her, and she actually became quite proud of it,” Mara says, chuckling.
She might no longer be here, but her essence is still ever-present and extends far beyond the café’s name. She left her mark everywhere, especially in the Residenza – the place where she lived up until she passed away on 29 November 2021. When her family and the guests look at the Residenza, they still see Maria waving from her balcony in their memory.