Only one hour drive from the city life of Ljubljana we indulged ourselves in the autumn sun of the Slovenia’s western town of Vipava – the historical heart of the fertile, wine-rich region of the Vipava Valley (Vipavska Dolina in Slovenian). Here is the story of a weekend well spent between sightseeing and wine-tasting.
Text by Marijana Podhraski Photos by SaMo
Slovenia’s countryside Venice with the “wine” touch
When visiting Slovenia, Vipava is most often not on the tourist’s “Must See” list, even though it is only 20 km from the famous Postojna caves. After we spent the whole weekend in Vipava, we cannot stop wondering how come that this little town on the water is so overlooked. Located in the beautiful Vipava valley, which is known as the land of sun and wine producing, Vipava offers a full wine and food experience of the region and makes you want to stay longer for a complete “joie de vivre”.
On a beautiful October Saturday morning, the sun was spilling over the beautiful terracotta roofs and the light in a still sleepy town was so perfect, that we decided to take a walk and some photos first, and then have a coffee in a café at the town’s main square (even though we badly needed some caffeine) …
It soon became obvious, that this idyllic little town has many great features. It is developed beside numerous springs of the Vipava River, and the feel of the city is calm and relaxing, almost zen like. The sound of the water gushing from the springs is something that gives the city a pure touch of magic; the view of the stone houses wrapped with green wine leaves takes a breath away. This is when we think – what a great idea it was to book a room here and stay overnight in this gorgeous town!
Knights, nobles and the baroque boys
Vipava can be a great gateway for couple of days. It is peaceful and picturesque, and besides wonderful natural heritage around it, the city itself is enriched by cultural attractions.
There is a line of cute little stone statues, guarding the main square, that cannot be missed. The locals call them “putti”, but they are also known as the “baroque boys”. They symbolize fertility and abundance – therefore they are a bit round-shaped. The baroque boys seem to appreciate life and it is a good attitude to take with you.
The region around Vipava was probably settled by the Illyrians and Celts in the pre-Roman era. Some trace the name Vipava to the Celtic root vip (river). In the late 6th century, Slavic tribes, ancestors of modern Slovenes, settled the area.
Up on the hill above the square, the ruins of the Stari Grad Castle are visible. They date back to the 12th century, when the castle was the residence of the knights of Vipava until the mid 14th century.
Later the castle was granted to a long series of noble and knightly families. The last owners – the counts Lanthieris, abandoned the decaying castle in the 17th century. The Lanthieris have also built a Baroque mansion on the present main square.
The landmark Mt Nanos looms above the valley – a mountain plateau from which the Vipava River springs, and a popular recreation area for hiking, mountain biking, climbing and paragliding.
Home to family-owned wine producers
Wine has been made in the Vipava Valley since Roman times and today the region can show off with many excellent wines. Vipava hills have a lot of sunny days, which enables winegrowers to grow as many as 25 different types of graves.
Enoteca Vipava at the address Glavni trg 1 (Main Square) is the center of Vipava wines, and here they are offering more than 170 types of wine from the whole valley. Wine lovers can taste various high quality white and red wines, among which the most special are those from indigenous Vipava’s grapes: zelen, pinela and klarnica.
On our visit a large group of visitors was in the middle of wine tasting, and the place was quite busy. But Tourist Information Center Vipava staff still managed to give us all the information on natural and cultural heritage of the region and the Vipava Wine road offers.
Vipava is most well known for its dry whites, especially the zelen and pinela grape varieties.
Superb stay at Podfarovž
It is hard to have a full experience of Vipava, including the food and the wine in just one day. Or better to say, it doesn’t make much sense to spoil the fun of wine and food tasting, plus exploring the city with having to return to Ljubljana the same evening.
Therefore, we decided to book a room at Podfarovž, a beautifully set restaurant, hidden behind the main square, right on the one of the springs of the Vipava river. Staying at such friendly and beautiful place added the final touch of excellence to our weekend trip to Vipava. At Podfarovž you can also try some excellent domestic food. We went for their platter with prosciutto, cuts of locally produced salami, mozzarella cheese and olives. Of course a bottle (or two) of their white wine made an evening even more enjoyable.
And finally, here is a photograph of a view from our bedroom at Podfarovž – which says more than a thousand words!