There are so many reasons to visit Vipava Valley which, not surprisingly, has been included among the Best in Travel 2018 destinations by Lonely Planet: you will be able to taste the wonderful Slovenian wines produced here, you will have small medieval villages to visit and a luxuriant nature that offers many opportunities for sports and 'adventure.
Rolling hills, lush vineyards and small medieval villages: the Vipava Valley, known locally as Vipavska Dolina is without a doubt one of Slovenia's best kept secrets.
As the local wind Burja (the Bora), the Vipava Valley has left us amazed. It is a region to which I had not reserved any particular expectations, mea culpa, but which has proved to be an unforgettable destination thanks to the incredible food and wine experiences set in a perfect idyllic setting.
I mentioned the Burja wind because with its gusts that reach even over 200km / h at the beginning it could scare you but at the end of the trip you will understand why the inhabitants consider it a friend and not just a natural phenomenon.
The Burja wind is to be thanked as the creator of that particular climate for the cultivation of vines and the production of wine, and keeps insects away, reducing the need to use pesticides.
Sustainability here is also not just a word to fill your mouth with, but a real way of life, and while many of us often wonder what exactly the word means, Slovenians look after their family farms, sip fine wines in local wineries and devour delicious cheeses, usually accompanied by a heart-warming smile.
- 1 - Taste a starred menu
- 2 - Visit Vipava (Vipacco)
- 3 - Relax in an Eco-farm
- 4 - Taste local wines
- 5 - Rihemberk Castle
- 6 - Vipava Cross
- 7 – Sport e Outdoor
- 8 - Aidussina
- 9 - Take a trip to the surroundings: Lake Bled, Postojna Cave and Liubiana
- 10 - Solkan Bridge
1 - Taste a "starred" menu
If you want to taste a starred menu accompanied by local wines, the restaurant of Tomaž Kavčič is what you are looking for.
A Gostilna Pri Lojzetu we were greeted in the friendliest way possible. Even though the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star and Tomaž is one of Slovenia's most respected and respected chefs, the atmosphere is relaxed.
It was a very chic thing, they welcomed us into the vineyard giving each of us a vine cuttings, so that we could plant them.
After this little ritual, Tomaz's dishes awaited us, served among the vineyards and in a very original way: bites of salmon trout and canned peach hanging from a branch, colorful dishes with local ingredients, gnocchi and meat presented in a truly creative way, and to finish, a gin and tonic-flavored dessert with lemon mousse and gin jelly.
Tomaz produces an award-winning gin called “Monologue” and we tasted it in an exclusive gin and tonic. For each dish, a wine from the Vipava 1894 cellar was presented, including the famous Ribolla Gialla from the Vipava Valley.
The restaurant has gone from a small, traditional and humble beginning to this world-class venue, which often hosts weddings, and is highly regarded as one of the best restaurants in the country.
Although the cellar is stocked with over 800 wines and champagnes from around the world, our tasting menu was accompanied only by local Slovenian wines.
Tomaž's dishes are a real journey of the senses. Go and try and then you will tell me.
2 - Vipava (Vipacco)
Since it gives its name to the entire Valley, one would think that Vipava (Vipava) is the largest city: I'm sorry, but Vipava does not claim this title!
What some call the "Slovenian Venice" is a rather sleepy town, built over the source of the delta of the homonymous river at the foot of the monte Nanos which honestly has little to do with “our” Venice.
However, there is certainly a distinctive feature that unites Venice and Vipava and it is thewater. Seven springs that gush from the ground give life to canals where cafes and bars follow each other, making this place perfect for a romantic dinner or an aperitif.
Known mostly for the wonderful Lantieri palace from the Baroque period, however, Vipava reserves other surprises. There are five castles, the ruins of the oldest atop a hill dating back to the XNUMXth century. In the cemetery you will find two original Egyptian sarcophagi, brought from Egypt by the diplomat and Egyptologist Anton Laurin.
The park also has some treasures: it is bordered by XNUMXth century stone cherubs and an ancient fountain. The nice thing is that somewhere else these treasures would probably be locked inside a museum, while here they are outdoors and available to everyone.
Not to be missed is also to try the local cuisine in one of the many gostilne (homemade trattorias). The most famous is the Podfarovz Inn , where you can taste the šelinka, celeriac and potato soup, carrots and smoked pork on the beautiful terrace overlooking one of the city's springs.
Especially if you don't have time to wander around the small villages of the valley, there is a suitable place to taste some local wines Vipava Wine Shop, which is located next to the tourist office. Here you can also buy the best labels in the area.
3 - Visit an Eco-Farm
The farm Ecological tourist farm Toncevi (Pedrovo) was born in 1896 and in 2006 the young Tonc family relaunched it, transforming it little by little into an ecological farmhouse.
For us this was a bit like a corner of paradise, characterized by silence and total immersion in nature: you will find cows grazing quietly in the meadows, hopping goats, ruffled chickens and soft rabbits and the scent of aromatic herbs grown with care and dedication.
The farm, or rather the Eco-farm is also a nice place to stop and sleep. Here there are in fact two apartments and another 6 beds. Breakfast, lunch or dinner are mainly based on typical dishes prepared according to recipes handed down over the years from mother to daughter.
All the ingredients are 0 km, purchased from small local producers or produced directly here.
4 - Taste local wines
La Vipava valley it has a turbulent past and for millennia it was a place of passage between Italy and the Danube region. It was already inhabited in the Stone Age, but the main legacy was left by the Romans, who exported their main treasure: the lives.
Wine has been produced in the Vipava Valley ever since and is still one of the main wine regions in the whole of Slovenia.
Today Slovenia is recognized as one of the smallest but most diverse wine regions in the world. There are about 21.000 hectares of vineyards and 30.000 grape producers!
Royal British wine authority Jancis Robinson has labeled Slovenia as the country with perhaps the most unusual wine culture in the world, certainly in Europe.
Gifts of Vipava is a small wine bar in the magical Vipavski Križ, in a wonderful medieval setting, where you can taste Slovenian wines (accompanied by cold cuts, cheeses and delicious bruschetta) and immediately feel at home.
In addition to the tastings in the shop you will be able to buy a lot of local products, such as wine (of course), dried meat, cheeses, honey and jams.
5 - Rihemberk Castle
Located on a hill near Branik il Rihemberk Castle it is a fortification surrounded by three walls known mostly because during the war it was a Nazi headquarters and was later destroyed by the partisans.
Inside the castle there are some noteworthy buildings: the imposing central tower dating back to the XNUMXth century on which the cross of the German knightly order is carved, the Gothic chapel, the entrance tower, the southern palace and the cellars of the southern palace.
The inner courtyard is dominated by the well.
CAUTION: At the moment (2020) the castle is under renovation on the inside, but the outside is already worth a visit and once the renovation process is complete it will be a marvel!
6 - Vipava Cross
With so many villages to choose from on your visit to the Vipava Valley, it can be difficult to narrow it down, but I highly recommend taking a guided tour through the medieval village of Vipava Cross.
Vipavski Križ is known as one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Slovenia and as soon as you visit it you will understand why.
Located on an old trade route that saw the Ottomans cross its paths, not many people live here today.
Its narrow, cobbled streets, surrounded by recently restored houses and buildings are truly fascinating to explore. You can also enjoy the view from the defense walls, added to the city in the XNUMXth century.
One of the best times to visit Vipavski Križ is undoubtedly the Christmas period when the living nativity scene comes to life on the central square and the atmosphere is made party by music and decorations.
7 – Sport e Outdoor
But Mother Nature has not only made this place magical for wine and village lovers, but also for those who love adventure.
For example, have you ever heard ofultra Trail? You've probably heard of it if you are an avid runner.
THE Ultra Trail Vipava Valley starts from Ajdovščina and the route takes you through breathtaking views over Golak e Čaven.
You will cross vineyards, small local villages, you will cross two rivers, Hubelj and Vipava.
At the end there is an epic climb on the Monte Nanos, from the top of which your gaze can range from Julian Alps al Gulf of Trieste.
The Vipava Valley doesn't just offer great hiking, kayaking or biking trails: the towering mountains and the famous Burja wind also offer ample opportunities to embrace nature from the sky!
Il paragliding is one of the most practiced sports and I assure you that it offers unique emotions (do you remember when I talked about my first paragliding experience near Pordenone?), so why not take advantage of it?
8 - Aidussina
Ajdovščina (or Wajdušna as the locals proudly call it) is a small town of around 7000 inhabitants, surrounded by rugged mountains and fine vineyards.
The small historic center of today's town was an ancient Roman camp called Camping on the Cold River (Fortress on the cold river) around 270 AD along the defense route of the Empire. Between the river Hubelj and the main square of the city, Lavričev Trg, you can admire what remains of the 14 defensive towers built by the Romans.
As a curiosity, in the past, the Hubelj River served as a natural boundary, one side was known as Ajdovščina and the other as Sturje (under the German regime).
But in the early 50s they both became a unified city.
A few minutes walk from the main square Lavričev Trg. you can visit two art galleries, the first Pylon Gallery is dedicated to the prolific local artist Veno Pilon and the latter Nice house, is a gallery that hosts several interesting exhibitions and workshops.
In Šturje, you will also find the monument to sacerdote Philip Terčelj, is located quite close to a small Catholic church. I recommend you to spend some time in this neighborhood, it is a quiet part of the city where you can take a pleasant walk and see how the locals live.
If you have time and desire you can also visit the small Catholic church of San Giovanni Battista, it probably won't leave you amazed, but it's worth a visit.
After all this walking you will surely be thirsty. I recommend a gem: the Pelicon Brewery, a small brewery created by Anita and Matej who with a lot of work and passion have managed to create a wide selection of craft beers to choose from.
Unfortunately when I was there it was not possible to visit the brewery, but the shop / pub is! Stop by for a cold beer and you won't regret it.
9 - Take a trip to the surroundings: Lake Bled, Postojna Cave and Liubiana
There are several reasons why I recommend you to visit the Vipava Valley: as already mentioned it was included among the best Best in Travel destinations by Lonely Planet in 2018.
But another of the main reasons is its strategic position just a short distance from some of the highlight of every trip to Slovenia: Lake Bled, Ljubljana and the Postojna Caves.
1 - Lake Bled
Probably the Lake Bled it is the most famous, well-known and tourist destination in Slovenia. Well, saying tourist might sound bad, but if so, there is obviously a reason.
I bet we have all already seen the beautiful picture of the alpine lake with a small church on the island in the center.
Lake Bled is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Slovenia. This small lake has all the ingredients for a perfect vacation… a castle perched on a hill, a pretty islet to visit, hiking trails, secluded places to swim and a sweet fairytale atmosphere.
2 - Postojna Cave
Did you know that the second largest cave in the world is in Slovenia?
Especially if you have children it will be an unforgettable experience: to go down to the heart of the earth you take a little train that takes you deep and from there you will begin to wander in the underground passages.
Le Postojna cave are the most visited in Europe also for another reason: in fact, a short distance away you will find the Predjama Castle, one of the most famous attractions in Slovenia.
The castle dates back to the XNUMXth century but became famous two centuries later when the owner, Erazem, was besieged for a year and a day.
3 - Ljubljana
The small one Ljubljana it is one of the most fascinating and greenest capitals in Europe.
Spend time wandering along the river Ljubljanica or in the alleys lined with pastel colored houses, take the funicular up to the castle and try to find as many dragons as possible.
Before sunset, visit the cafe on the top floor of the Skyscraper: the views from there are the best in the whole city!
10 - Solkan Bridge
Il ponte in Solkan (Salcano) is the most important bridge on the railway route connecting Jesenice with Nova Gorica and one of the most famous bridges in Slovenia.
Although at first glance it may not seem anything special, in reality it is a real masterpiece of the 900 with the longest stone span in the world (for a railway bridge).
The bridge, which crosses the Soča River, is a super famous destination for lovers of bunjee jumping.