Guys, I have great news: Narnia exists! And its door opens from Slovenia. The locals call it Goriška Brda, but it shouldn’t mislead you. Despite its common name (the Gorizian Hills), it’s the land of magic. It’s hidden behind mountain ranges to the east and north, it’s bordered with the emerald, almost otherworldly Soča River and the road leading to it, somewhat mystically, winds through Italy for a couple of kilometers. It’s like you really need to clamber through that wardrobe before you emerge in this spellbinding land once again on the other side of Slovenia.
It’s a corner of the country with an amazing feel to it. The rolling hillsides covered in vineyards, the almost fairytale-like landscape, the laid-back dolce farniente atmosphere as well as the charming people make it a fabulous destination. And the greatest thing about this “alternative Tuscany” is that it’s not flooded with herds of tourists (yet). Yes, you heard it right, it’s still kind of an undiscovered gem.
Actually, it’s so beautiful and movie like that my romantic self (the one that melts over the movie A Good Year) could even imagine living here. But while I’m playing the lottery with the secret wish of buying a house here on the twelfth of never, I need to keep satisfied with little day trips now and then. So whenever we are in Slovenia I always find an excuse to head to Brda: either to try some wines at a local winery, to refill our own cellar with bottles from the vinoteka of Dobrovo, to enjoy some delicious food or just to have an afternoon stroll and a coffee in the most beautiful village of the world, Šmartno.
On our latest autumn visit, Brda was remarkably bustling. Usually, the place and its people seem to be on a silent pause, like everyone around here was on a constant holiday. But now, in the harvest season, it was different: wherever we looked the landscape was moving, and the air was filled with the throbbing sounds of machines and the chaffing of tractors carrying grapes. It also meant, however, that our favourite family-run restaurants and cellars were closed down: it was the time of the year when all the idle hands were needed on the fields. So stumbling upon a place, which was miraculously open and which we’d never been to, we decided it was high time to give it a chance.
The Belica Estate (or domačija as it’s called here), in the little village of Medana, looked very inviting with its spacious, trellis-covered patio. Not only the atmosphere was charming at first sight, but also perfect for an easy-going, no rush lunch with our baby on board. The mix of cutlery clatter and the diners’ chatter, as well as the lazy September air was enough to put LittleMK asleep in his stroller, while we could enjoy the full tasting menu. It was like a dream: after six months of motherhood I could rediscover the joys of slow food instead of hastily shovelling in what was on my plate. Beside, the dishes were superb. Nothing extraordinary, rather simple homestyle things, but all made of high quality seasonal ingredients. Since we couldn’t help the digestion with some wine this time, we decided rather to walk down the plates once the Little One woke up. I was tempted to suggest Šmartno as our destination, but we figured we could discover something new in this regards, too. Finally we stopped in the village of Kojsko and walked up the hill to its unique fort-like gothic church, and immersed ourselves once again in the beautiful autumn view of Brda.
If you wish to read more on our latest autumn adventures in Slovenia, then check my previous post here.