I discovered stone huts like this one first a bit north of Palatinate, in Rheinhessen to be precise. Since the huts there look very much like the ones down south in Italy, in Alberobello, I did a bit of research and found out that they have most probably been built by Italian immigrants who came up north to help in the quarries. Obviously this kind of round stone hut became popular later on, used as storage and as a place to have lunch in the shade. This one east of St. Martin looks especially cute, with all the bushes overgrowing it. And it is cool inside, so it makes a perfect place to sit and get some fresh air during hot summertimes.
© Ingrid D., April 2010 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)
Madonna statues are quite popular in regions with Catholic population, especially in bishoprics which were or still are very dominant. (In case of St. Martin it is the one of Speyer.) But in St. Martin it is not only Madonna statues who protect the houses but also other very cute ones. I still have to find out what the first one means. The inscription says something about St. Antonius (literally "St Antonius over winter, the heretic"), but I fail to understand the term. Maybe he tries to convince the guy that it is better to drink the wine? And the little pig, what I realised now more than a year after I wrote the above, is one of the saint's symbols (shame on me that I didnt know it, especially since I have a special relationship to Sant'Antonio).
Many of the little wine villages in Palatinate have what is called “after work vintners”. This means that regular vintners rent rows of vine to locals who then take care of the plants during the season. They harvest them and bring them to the vintners who to make wine. This must be one of the best ways to do “gardening”!
Another typical feature for wine villages like St. Martin is this little gazebo in the vineyards. It is meant to be transformed into a testing booth as soon as the wine season starts.
Especially in spring, summer and autumn the plant decorations on houses and balconies and in gardens are overwhelming. I especially loved the balcony in my second photo – it must be most magic to spend the evening time there with a good book and wine of course. This balcony belongs to the former vicarage of the church which is now a yard restaurant, but open only Wednesdays to Sundays.
St. Martin’s backstreets also have many very dreamy parts with surprising vegetation. I was amazed to see an araucaria growing here, but then, Palatinate is known for Mediterranean vegetation due to the mild climate. And I loved that little toilet house in the outskirts of the village: even there plants grow all over to make it look a tiny bit nicer.
This already caught my eye in neighbour village Maikammer some time ago: obviously the local (Maikammer) blacksmith will never run out of orders or has a good marketing strategy: wrought iron decoration is very prominent in both villages. (most probably also in the other surrounding ones, but I have visited only these two up to now). Not only is it the wines as in my previous description but also winery signs or the sign for the local butcher (second photo). The latter one is almost identical with the sign of Maikammer’s central hotel and restaurant “Zum Ochsen” (ox).
The blacksmith definitely has high artistic skills.
Very typical for Palatinate wine villages are the house decorations which very often are related to wine. Be it a little wine barrel next to the house number, be it wrought iron vines or carvings in the sandstone on a house – wine rules the regions and the villages!
In addition, the little vineyard owners often display their wines in showcases like the one in photo 4: an old barrel is cut and mounted on the wall next to the house or yard entrance and the bottles are put on display.