BIKE SLOVENIA GREEN

KOMEN: A STORY OF STONE, TERAN AND PROSCIUTTO

Duration

1 DAY

Category

TOURING

Fitness level

LOW

Tour type

SELF-GUIDED, GUIDED

Technical difficulty

LOW

The Karst is a territory where groundwater is predominant due to the permeability of the rocks, while the dissolving limestone shapes typical formations both on and below the surface. The geological phenomena on this rocky terrain are so distinctive that the term karst grew to be used to denote such geographical features appearing anywhere in world. In Slovenia, Karst denotes the part of south-west Slovenia stretching among the nearby Italian border, the Vipava valley and the hills of Brkini.

The name is derived from the ancient word for stone, which is in abundance in the area. The buildings in ancient Karst villages featuring typical architecture are made of stone and covered with limestone plates (Slovenian name: skrle), while courtyards are enclosed by stone walls. The typical low stone walls separate plots and protect the fields, which were created by removing stones, from the strong Karst bora wind. The stone is that much more visible because the landscape is hardly covered with any forest – in the past, it used to resemble a stone desert because it was deforested for economic purposes, until a planned afforestation was started.

Because stone is so predominant in the area, it is quite surprising that Karst cultivates a tradition of viticulture, which goes two thousand years in the past. Likewise, the strong bora and winds from the sea, mostly dry periods, plenty of sunshine and a lack of surface water do not seem to speak in favour of growing vines, but in combination with the red soil that is rich in minerals, they obviously provide excellent conditions for wine production. The cultivation of the Refosco, the predominant vine variety of the Karst wine-growing region, goes back to the beginning of the Christian era. This territory produces variety of red wine called Teran from the refosco vine, for which Pliny claimed it had healing properties like no other wine. This unique, world-renowned wine contains more lactic acid and polyphenols than any other type. The Karst soil gives a specific flavour to other wine grape varieties as well.

The dry climate with frequent north winds and the bora also provides exceptional conditions for air-drying meat. Dried pork legs, which are called prosciutto, can be found practically everywhere in the Mediterranean region. They differ by the type of meat used, the method of processing, and the drying period. The Karts prosciutto is the most widely known and appreciated Slovenian prosciutto and also the holder of a protected geographical indication. The intense ruby colour and a salty-sweet taste of the Karst prosciutto is a gourmet delicacy that is well worth tasting.

Life always finds its way, even on the hard and once devastated Karst land. It is therefore of little surprise that over 300 species of butterflies live in the area, mostly in forests, dry grasslands, wet meadows and ponds, while a wide plethora of plant and animal species can also be found in rocky terrains. A large part of the Karst plateau is included in Natura 2000, a European network of protected areas that was established for the preservation of biodiversity. An undemanding biking path leads through the nature and the typical features showing life in Karst, i.e. stone, Teran and prosciutto.

Gallery

Highlights

1

Komen

Komen, which was recorded as early as the 13th century and flourished later, in the late 19th century, was an important tourist centre during the interwar periods. However, the settlement was burned down in 1944 and the villagers deported to Germany. After the war, Komen developed into an administrative, economic and cultural centre in its own part of the Karst region.


2

Gabrovica

Known as a masonry village, Gabrovica once operated a masonry school and a white marble quarry in the nearby area. Interesting architectural details – the work of former stonecutters and bricklayers, can be observed on numerous homesteads.


3

Kobjeglava, an old prosciutto producing facility

The prosciutto museum shows the entire ham processing method, but prior arrangement is required for the visit.


4

Ščuka prosciutto production site

The Ščuka family has been drying prosciutto and other meats for a long time. The prosciutto production site was built at a time when modern technologies were still non-existent, so the traditional method of slow natural drying remained in use to this day. Using the extensive knowledge and experience, the air flowing into the drying room is controlled manually, depending on the weather conditions. In addition to the prosciutto production, the family has been engaged in classical crafts that have typically been present in the Karst for centuries, including the extraction of stone in their own quarry and the cultivation of mulberry trees and silkworms. A visit of the prosciutto production site and the tasting offer a truly genuine experience of the Karst tradition.


5

Štanjel

As one of the oldest settlements in the Karst, Štanjel became a symbol of the region because of its old town centre. The hill nesting the old village of Štanjel on its top was populated as early as prehistoric times and fortified during the Antiquity period. The castle dominates the old town, while a monument of national importance called the Ferrari Garden is located behind the village. The garden was built according to the design by famous architect Max Fabiani, who served as a mayor of Štanjel for two decades and left his architectural mark in the area.


6

Gulič wine cellar, Kopriva

Since Karst is home to numerous wine cellars and vineyards, it is best to choose the one that fits the current mood experienced on the way. Although visitors can purchase home-grown produce and home-made products in most homesteads, the Gulič wine cellar is the only place where they can meet Tinkara Gulič, the Teran Queen of 2017.


7

Krstan Karst cellar, Skopo

The Gulič vineyards are relatively new, while the Krstan cellar boasts a long tradition of excellent Teran production.


8

Štoka farm, Krajna vas

Today, the fifth generation in the Štoka family is ageing Teran and raising pigs at the 200-year-old farm using the same methods as their ancestors. Besides Teran, white wines can be found at three underground cellars cut in solid rock, i.e. the Malvasia and indigenous varieties such as Vitovska, Grganja and Tocai Friulano.


9

Bortolato stonecutter, Pliskovica

Jernej Bortolato has been working as a stonecutter for more than 20 years. His products, which are made mostly of limestone, have traditional shapes and are intended for traditional use. Bortolato works extensively with industrial designers, such as prominent designer Oskar Kogoj, and is always willing to show, sell or manufacture a custom-made object cut in stone.


10

Petelin winegrower, Pliskovica

The vineyard farm cultivates six vineyards that are scattered around the village, following the integrated crop production guidelines and certificate.


11

Pliskina pot trail, Pliskovica (optional)

The circular educational trail found in the Karst leads through a labyrinth of dry stone, where one can see how much effort is put into cultivating the rocky world, learn about the special Karst features, and learn about the issue of water shortage. However, the six-mile route requires advanced biking skills.


12

Prehistoric site, Debela Griža

There are many remains of elevated settlements in the Karst, which started to develop in the Middle Bronze Age and formed until the arrival of the Romans. These settlements were mostly built in the form of stone walls guarding rectangular cottages made of stone and tree branches. Debela Griža, which is the biggest hillfort in the municipality, is located at the edge of the Volčji grad village. The Hallstatt hillfort dates from the 8th century BC, with the ruins of its wall being from eight to fifteen meters wide. The stone has been the foundation of survival since the prehistoric times.


Price includes navigation pack with GPS tracks.

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