The Slovenian territory that borders with Italy, also called the Soča Valley, includes three major towns: Bovec, Kobarid and Tolmin. Kobarid is a small historic town below the mighty mount Krn and the scene of heavy battles on the Isonzo Front. There are many historical sights that tell the story of the Isonzo Front: Kobarid Museum, Italian Ossuary, Memorial church of Javorca, outdoor museums, numerous cemeteries, chapels etc. All these sights are connected by the long-distance Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic. The Soča Valley is known for its beautiful unspoiled nature, numerous waterfalls (Kozjak, Boka, Virje), gorges (the Tolmin Gorge) and the emerald Soča river. It is also a paradise for many sports activities; there are many hiking and biking trails, water sports and fishing are popular along the Soča River, while paragliders take up their space in the air.
In Soča Valley, the significance of traditional food has been very important already in the past. The gastronomic tradition has been passed down from generation to generation, both in written and oral form, especially the cheese-making tradition. Only a few can resist the smells of local cuisine and renown culinary delicacies such as potatoes with cottage cheese, frika (potato cheese omelette), trout, delicious local desserts “Kobariški štruklji” (sweet dumplings with walnuts and raisins) and “Bovški krafi” (sweet pockets with pears and walnut filling), and for centuries appreciated cheeses with a protected origin – Tolminc cheese and Bovec cheese.
However, the cuisine of Soča Valley is anything but simple and plain. In Soča Valley, local tradition is transformed into top gastronomy. Many excellent restaurants and inns with a long family tradition are developing modern flavors and thus elevating the local cuisine to a higher level. The highlight of the local gastronomy is presented by Hiša Franko restaurant, where Ana Roš, named The World’s Best Female Chef in 2017, creates her original and creative dishes, while the restaurant itself has held the title of one of the best restaurants in the world for several years. It is the only restaurant in Slovenia with two Michelin stars.
The gastronomic offer of Soča Valley is complemented by culinary events and festivals such as Jestival, Potatoe Night, Frikafest, Soča Trout Festival.
Soča Valley is also famous for its liqueurs, as the locals have preserved the distillery tradition very well. Native fruit varieties, mainly coming from large apple, pear and plum orchards, are the basis of local liquors. Brandy has a recognizable flower with a pleasant smell and taste. It is distilled in the traditional way in special copper boilers with caps.
Soča Valley is not a wine-growing area, however, the story of wine is nevertheless very important, as the valley is located right next to Goriška Brda region (Slovenian Collio), famous for its quality wines.
SANTUARIO DI CASTELMONTE
Prepotto is an Italian town with just over 700 inhabitants in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Among the largest municipalities in the province of Udine, its 34 neighbourhoods cover a surface of 34.24 km². It borders for 15 km with Slovenia coinciding with the Judrio stream, which was the border between the Republic of Venice and Austria with the Treaty of Worms of 1521.
The borderland has a particularly interesting history, a perfect synthesis of cultures and populations that have animated this area of Friuli.
The orography of the municipal area is rather complete. Flat plains and mountainous areas alternate creating a unique landscape, rich in flora and wild fauna.
The pride of the Prepotto area is the Schioppettino, a native vine born right in the Judrio Valley that is part of the Ribolla family. This small town famous not only for the landscape, but also for the castle and sanctuary of Castelmonte and the many farms which make Prepotto the city of wine.
Wine tourism and slow tourism are well-founded pillars of the village’s economy.
The cuisine of Prepotto as a borderland has been strongly influenced by history and by the exchange with neighbouring populations, becoming a fusion. In particular, the two culinary traditions that have most influenced it, like all Friulian cuisine, are Slavic on the one hand and the Austro-Hungarian on the other.
Prepotto’s cuisine therefore shares most of the dishes we encounter in the rest of the Natisone Valleys and the Friulian plain.
It is a cuisine which reuses the ingredients, one of its symbolic dishes is undoubtedly the frico, which is prepared using the scraps and remains of Friulian cheeses, mixing them with potatoes and onions.
The white or yellow cornmeal polenta is very significant, it accompanies every traditional dish, while the toc ‘in braideaaccompanies a cream of Friulian cheeses or a sausage ragù.
Soups are highly important, including bean and potato soup which require long cooking and preparation. Among the first courses there is no shortage of homemade pasta cut in the shape of tagliatelle or blecs, or irregular squares in addition to potato, spinach or pumpkin gnocchi in Autumn. With a contrasting flavour we find at the end of summer the potato gnocchi stuffed with plums, a unique and delicious dish that represents well the melting pot of traditions. In spring we find dishes with wild herbs, in particular risotto with “sclopit” (Silene) or “ruscolins” (wild asparagus) and omelette with “urticions” (wild hops).
The most used meat is certainly pork. In the past, home-reared pigs provided the family with meat and fat throughout the year. Like the rest of Friuli, the municipality of Prepotto boasts a very rich heritage of traditional cured meats. One of the best known sausages is the “musetto” (muzzle) which takes its name from the animal’s face. It is almost a ritual food at Christmas and the New Year, which is served together with another symbol of Friulian cuisine that has received DOP protection, the brovada: turnips soured by a long fermentation under the pomace of grapes to red berry. With the meat dishes there is no shortage of beef, game and poultry, especially chicken and rabbits.
Prepotto extends into the valley of the Judrio river, therefore among the traditional cuisine we find trout and, once upon a time, crayfish.
One of the more typical desserts is the Gubana, from the Slovenian “Guba” or “fold” due to its shape; is a dessert made from raised dough with a filling of dried fruit, all embellished with grappa.
If Friuli Venezia Giulia is the best known Italian region for the production of quality white wines, Schioppettino stands out as the autochthonous red grape variety capable of rivaling the white ones. Especially in the territory of Prepotto and in the Judrio Valley, as recognized by the “Schioppettino di Prepotto” classed in the sub-area of the “Friuli Colli Orientali” DOC, this area is specifically reserved for wine made from grapes of the same name. A method oriented around a production of uncompromised quality establishes that the vineyards must produce a maximum of 1.55 kg of grapes per vine and that the harvest is carried out manually.
Aging is mandatory in wooden barrels for at least 12 months and must be placed on the market no earlier than September of the second year following the harvest. Due to the spicy aromatic characteristics, the wine is a notably typical, which derives from the unique relationship between climate and soil that’s created in the Judrio valley. But it’s not only the terroir that makes wine unique: the winemaker too must be able to interpret the language of the earth, transforming it into unmistakable fragrances, flavours and colours. This is how, in the glass, the Schioppettino of Prepotto reveals its authenticity: intense ruby red, strong scent of wild berries and morello cherries and a singular and precious spicy note of pepper. Elegant and complex like the great Friulian wines, it makes versatility its strong point. It ties together meat dishes or, if aged, even game. It also manages to amaze with fish dishes or spicy meals. Historically we understand how the Schioppettino can aspire to be recognized as the most prestigious red grape of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Mentioned since the Middle Ages, the Schioppettino has been present in Prepotto for centuries, surviving the challenging events that have affected this borderland between Italian, German and Slavic agricultural traditions.
In the “Acts and memoirs of the Agricultural Society of Gorizia” of 1877 it was defined as a “delicate grape” originating from Prepotto. Poggi, in his main work dedicated to Friulian viticulture in 1939, described it as a vine “grown almost exclusively in the hills and foothills of the municipality of Prepotto. The black Ribolla, outside its optimum environment, even at a distance of a few kilometers, gives a wine that no longer possesses those peculiar characteristics that make it prized in that of Prepotto with the local name of Schioppettino “. In spite of this, it was almost disappearing until 1977, when the municipal council of Prepotto approved the request that it be included in the list of authorized vines in 1981. Two years later, the European Community included it among their recommended vines for the province of Udine. By 1987 it had obtained the designation of origin.