The western part of Upper Bavaria is called Allgau, where the population is of Swaian origin. Swabians are descendents of the Alemannic tribes who settled in the western part of Central Europe in the 5th century. The Swabian influence is obvious in the local dialect, in the appearance of the people and in the style of their houses. Even the cows look different here; they are grayish-brown with short heads, white noses and ears. Extremely well-adapted to their environment, these cows are good mountain climbers and are able to endure rapid changes of temperature. But, nature did not go so far as to provide them with two shorter legs on the uphill side. They often wear bells on their necks to help the farmer find them more easily, especially when they are grazing in the higher pastures. Possibly the bells were also meant to ward off evil sprits.
The typical Swabian farmhouse is very spacious, several stories high, including the gable. Where as the Alpine farmhouse has a slightly inclined roof, the Swabian house has a steep gable, which doen not stand out from the wall. House and barn are attached to each other, but the building has no balconies. A great number of housed in this area, however, combine Swabian and Alpine elements. Facades are often elaborately decorated with scenes from daily life, or with symbols of a patron saint. St. Christopher, (former) patron of the roads, is also the patron of an easy death; St. Leonhard protects the animals in the stables, and St. Florian protects from fire, thought one wonders what he would think of a popular prayer that goes, Good St. Florian, protect my house and rather burn my neighbor’s. The Bavarians sometimes seem to have a saint for every occasion: for throat problems, call St. Blase; St. Anthony takes care of lost property, and Ste. Munditia guarantees a husband.