Deserted and majestic: photographer Stefano Paterna in the L!VE I in Berchtesgadener Land

From Tuscany to the Bavarian foothills of the Alps, from the BOXSTAR to the L!VE I: for his new tour in the KNAUS, landscape and travel photographer Stefano Paterna not only changed location, but also his vehicle. Instead of travelling through sunny Italy in a compact CUV as he did in 2019, he headed to the wintry Berchtesgadener Land in the spacious and fully‐integrated vehicle. An exciting travel story between the Watzmann and Lake Chiemsee – and one of freedom and lockdown.

Welcome dear readers, I am Stefano Paterna, a travel photographer from Cologne. Some of you have probably followed my first trip in the KNAUS BOXSTAR, which I took to Tuscany in 2019. For this year’s tour, I decided to stay in Germany – partly because I was obliged to under the COVID‐19 restrictions, but also because it is a beautiful country. There is no need to go far afield!

As a fan of the mountains, I chose the Bavarian foothills of the Alps; more precisely, Chiemgau and Berchtesgadener Land. The region not only boasts winters worthy of the name, but also picturesque lakes and stunning peaks as far as the eye can see.

This time, I was accompanied by the KNAUS L!VE I – actually, I should say accommodated. The L!VE I is not just a holiday companion on four wheels. It provides spacious and comfortable accommodation while allowing you to drive elegantly through the mountains. Two years ago I was impressed by the compact dimensions of the BOXSTAR, but this time I am thrilled by the ample interior of the fully integrated motorhome and the exceptional view through the huge windscreen. The mountains pass by like in a panoramic cinema. Thank you very much for this ingenious vehicle, dear KNAUS team. It was a great pleasure!

Now let’s get to the tour and the photos, of course!

As always, I set off from Cologne. Winters here are usually uncomfortable, cold and damp low‐pressure areas that make the whole city a little greyer than it is already. Snow is rare here – if we do get some, no one knows what to do with it.

The picture is entirely different in southern Germany. Even though there was no sign of winter or snow when I picked up my vehicle, it was sunny and almost spring‐like in Jandelsbrunn. However, that was to radically change in the course of my journey!

I make my first stop in Berchtesgadener Land. Ramsau is the name of the little village that became famous as a motif for landscape painting with its picturesque church, stream and mountains. Naturally, word of this idyll has spread among us photographers as well.

After driving on for a while, I reach Lake Hintersee. The atmosphere here is very special, almost mystical. The mist falls lightly onto the water, reflecting small islands on its smooth surface. Right next to the lake is the enchanted forest, where hiking trails wind their way close to landslide debris. There is a stillness in the air and despite a few small hotels, the lake seems somehow deserted. No wonder, as overnight stays at the hotel are currently impossible. How wonderful that I can travel at liberty in the L!VE I!

The following day, I head off to the next lake which you have probably already heard of: Lake Königssee! I will be staying there for a few days, exploring the small villages, hiking around the lake – and greeting the Watzmann, of course. Berchtesgaden is just around the corner. The town is not just a household name among tourists: its salt mines are still adding flavour to your favourite soup today.

There are numerous hiking trails leading around the mine and Lake Königssee, offering magnificent views. However, you should have a head for heights if you want to enjoy the impressive mountain and lake panorama from above. In my opinion, every metre of the ascent is well worth the effort. The view over the lake and of the Watzmann or the small island of Christlieger in Lake Königssee is a must on every tour of Berchtesgadener Land!

Slowly but surely, I reach greater heights with the L! VE I. As the snow line steadily approaches, I suddenly find myself surrounded by white splendour. I follow the Rossfeld panorama road, which winds its way up the mountains to an altitude of 1570 metres, and enjoy the magnificent view over snow‐covered landscapes deep into the heart of the Salzburger Land, which borders onto this region from the Austrian side.

My last stop in Berchtesgadener Land is the spa town of Bad Reichenhall where modern medicine meets Bavarian customs and traditions. This town also made a good living from salt, as you can see from the picturesque town hall square. By the way: Bad Reichenhall is also nicknamed „Bavarian Merano‟.  Spring always arrives a little bit sooner here and the climate is somewhat milder than at nearby Lake Chiemsee.

This is exactly where winter catches me by surprise. While it was still a sunny 15 degrees in Reichenhall, the temperatures drop far below freezing here within just a few days. This sudden change in the weather is accompanied by fascinating lights and cloud formations, creating a very special atmosphere at Lake Chiemsee.

The jetties reach far into the „Bavarian Sea‟,  and it is easy to imagine how the boats and ships create a tumultuous water spectacle here in summer. You could almost think you were at the seaside if it were not for the picturesque Alps towering as a beautiful backdrop on the other side of the lush reed banks.

Close to Lake Chiemsee, at Lake Klostersee, the so‐called monastery lake, lies Seeon Abbey. It was founded over a thousand years ago by Benedictine monks on a small peninsula jutting into the lake. Today it is a well‐known cultural and educational centre that captivates visitors with its impressive architecture.

While I am still revelling in the history of the islands and monasteries, winter descends on Lake Chiemsee overnight. With icy temperatures and an abundance of snow, it paints a completely new picture of the lake and its shores – and not least of the L!VE I, which remains unscathed by the thick layer of ice and snow. Like a grim mountain giant, it defies the elements and slowly has to start taking me home again.

After the wonderful days spent at Lake Chiemsee, my journey through the foothills of the Alps is almost over. On the way back to the factory, I capture a few highlights such as the Josefsthal Waterfalls, which meander through the forest and rocks at Lake Schliersee.

The days spent in the L!VE I were just amazing. Due to the pandemic‐related restrictions, I was not always able to proceed with my trip as planned. Yet perhaps that is what made it so special. I had not expected the mountains or lakes to be so deserted. There was a very special atmosphere lingering over the landscape, a sense of peace, slowness and vastness that I, as a photographer, found very inspiring – and in which I felt particularly at ease in the majestic L!VE I.