Austria’s Fugging dreams of the quiet life under new name
FUCKING, Austria–Deep in the Austrian countryside, the newly-named village of Fugging is hoping it will soon quietly slip back into the anonymity it was destined for had it not been for the notoriety — and unwanted tourists — attracted by its previous one.
Indeed, even though the village isn’t officially getting rid of the name of Fucking until January 1, no time has been wasted in replacing the road signs.
“It had become unbearable, people would go by giving us the finger,” an elderly local resident — one of the few willing to talk to outsiders — told AFP.
“We didn’t do it gladly, it costs money but we had no other option,” she went on, recalling how the village’s road signs were regularly stolen by tourists looking for a souvenir.
Apart from the name going back to medieval times, nothing else marks out the village of around 100 souls, situated in the Tarsdorf municipality in Upper Austria, not far from the German border.
Nonetheless, its signs had long drawn online mockery and mischievous tourists — sometimes by the busload — who would come for a selfie with one of the infamous signs, often in lewd positions.
A rare voice of regret in the area about the name change is Wolfgang Pohler, who used to sell souvenirs to the passing tourists from his small shop.
He laments that people “don’t have more of a sense of humor”.
“We’re not far from Salzburg and even before the internet there were always English or American tourists who came to get their picture taken,” he remembers.
The village’s unwanted fame spawned a beer brewed by a company in Germany called “Fucking Hell”, a pun on the German term for a pale lager.
Some of the mostly Catholic residents even feared the area might soon play host to a house of ill repute.
“We’ve had enough media frenzy about this in the past,” Tarsdorf mayor Andrea Holzner told local media when the renaming was announced last month.
But it’s by no means certain that the name change will bring the obscurity that Fugging residents so crave.
Already the signs have been painted back to the old name overnight and police are on the lookout for any more sign-related mischief.
Some reminders of the previous title live on in signs on smaller roads, on the odd house, or advertising the direct sale of local produce.
Not to mention the lingering hostility of some locals towards outsiders they suspect of being on the hunt for a humorous selfie.
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