The authenticity, beauty and remoteness of the Riedji attracts people from across
Europe and beyond. An inspiring atmosphere, cathartic simplicity and the disconnectedness
from every day life permit for interesting social dynamics. This is amplified by
the high energy level associated with physical exercise - hiking up to the alp,
exploring the surrounding areas or chopping wood. The Riedji has become a nodal point
in a far-flung personal network that includes people from a range of professional
and personal backgrounds. What they share is curiosity, self-reflection and
a willingness to contribute. The Riedji is not meant to be a mere museum or holiday retreat -
but rather a place to share experiences and exchange ideas.
Some of the most memorable experiences for many visitors to the Riedji are
of a culinary type - thanks to physical exercise, fresh air and a range of tasty
regional specialties. Some of the best Swiss wines come from the Valais region
(such as Fendant or Dōle) and Europe's highest vineyard (at 1,150 m) is located
in the Matter valley. Another regional specialty is the Raclette cheese -
which is traditionally being melted at the open fire. Speck, rye bread and Rösti
(hash-browned potatoes) are other examples of the simple but tasty local cuisine.
Perhaps most delicious, however, is the fresh water that comes from the glaciers above.
Cooking on the wood-fired stove or enjoying the mountain vistas with an aperitif not
only stimulates the palate, but is also a pleasant social event.
Several of the unique features of the Riedji are the result of the pioneering spirit
of the Summermatter family. First, it is exceptional that an alp of this size belongs
to one owner. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Summermatter brothers
(most of them had moved to Zurich) bought out 40 other families.
Second, they built the cable car - the first one in the region -
and an extensive network of water pipes that took them 10 years to complete.
Third, their heir Paul Summermatter, his siblings and his wife Susanne ensured
that the integrity of the Riedji was preserved, while comparable alps
were being spoiled by excessive development. Paradoxically, it were always
'outsiders' with a special attachment to this mountainous region that
maintained the Riedji. In fact, many of those now contributing come from abroad.
It is this symbiosis between local and foreign, traditional and modern that give the Riedji
its unique flavor.