THE search for a hermit is officially over for the residents of this Austrian town, who have been offering a unique job opportunity – and a FREE home.
The Saalfelden hermitage in the Austrian Alps has had a resident hermit for 350 years and offers stunning views.
There’s a catch – the house doesn’t have any heating, electricity or running water – but divorcee Stan Vanuytrecht reckons he’s the man for the unpaid job.
The bearded Belgian, who smokes from a pipe, certainly looks the part – but he says he was surprised to be chosen.
Stan, 58, told the Austria Press Agency: “I thought I didn’t have a chance. When I read about the Saalfelden hermitage I thought to myself: that’s the place for me.”
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Although the ancient house is perched 4,600ft up a cliff, it doesn’t offer total solitude.
People often hike up to enjoy the view, and tend to confide in the wise hermit.
But the Trabant-driving former artillery officer says his previous experience working with the homeless, alcoholics, drugs addicts, prisoners and psychiatric patients will stand him in good stead.
“It’s important just to listen without talking oneself and without judging,” he added.
The Saalfelden hermitage has been occupied every year since it was built.
So when Thomas Flieglmüller, a former priest and psychotherapist, decided a life of solitude wasn’t for him just a year into the job – the local priest Alois Moser immediately started advertising for his successor.
Wannabe hermits had to submit their applications by post, and 50 people applied – but Stan stood out.
“We opted for Stan Vanuytrecht because his personality appealed to us.
“He radiates calm and comes across as well-anchored,” said Erich Rohrmoser, mayor of Saalfelden near Salzburg in the west.