A Slovenian tradition lives on

This is a sun-soaked corner in the far west of Slovenia where Hemingway set ‘A Farewell to Arms’.

Across the valleys in the Karst region, such as Vipavska Dolina (Vipava Valley), farms open their doors and welcome guests into temporary food and wine outlets. This normally happens twice a year and provides the visitor with genuine home dishes, small-farm produce and house wines. These limited periods are called osmice. It was, in a bygone era, the domain of local villagers and people of the surrounding area. As a result of better transport connections and promotion, these are proving to be a popular custom attracting visitors from far and wide.

Based on the traditional ways of selling wine and produce, farmers open their doors for eight days. Written reports suggest that this custom developed as a farmers’ right in the 16th century, under the rule of Emperor Charlemagne. It was introduced to the valley with the decree of Empress Maria Theresa in the 18th century, allowing winegrowers to sell their own wine and produce at home in “makeshift wine taverns” for a period of eight days – hence the term osmice. The tradition of osmice lives on in the Vipava Valley to this day. A typical osmica can be recognized by wooden signposts and ivy sprigs that stay fresh for the period of opening.

In April and November, at Vrheh, the farmer at Pr Tonhu opens his osmica in the small village of Vrabče. The Vrhe is a hilly area in the karst and overlooks the Vipava Valley, offering beautiful views. Here, the farmer sells his own produce (drink and food ) to the consumer. It is here that I had the fortune to sample fine smallgoods, homemade bread, local typical casseroles and stews, cakes and desserts. I was informed that the vegetables were sourced from neighbouring farms, which kept the selection local. We were also treated to a local musical troupe, which looked like it consisted of a few local lads who enjoy an afternoon of singing folk songs with accordian accompaniment and a bevvy.

You will not encounter more genuine Slovenian hospitality anywhere in this small country.


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