Old countryside inns brought to life
Three entrepreneurs from the west of the country have joined forces to bring long-forgotten country pubs back to life for a day in a project that has aroused interest beyond Slovenia's borders.
The project called Oštarije kot kodi in the local dialect or Pubs as They Used to Be has so far focused on the area of Cerkno and Idrija but plans are afoot to expand it further afield.
Four gostilnas, old-style countryside establishments serving drinks and food and often lodgings as well, opened for a day in Cerkno last year, and several more in the Idrija area this year.
The project is the brainchild of the owners of the travelling restaurant Klatež, coffee roasting mill Fina Kava and brewery Pivovarna Zajc.
"There used to be quite some hospitality establishments in this beautiful part of the country. They slowly closed down as the owner grew old or died and the young decided not to keep the business going," Martina Čuk, the owner of Fina Kava brand, said.
Some of the gostilnas remain exactly the same as they were when they closed down many years ago. "It's those that we want to breathe new life into, and bring back old stories and memories that the locals are happy to share," Čuk added.
The project in Cerkno was met with excellent response, so a decision was made to expand outside the home municipality, first to the neighbouring area of Idrija and then to Baška Grapa to the north-west and on to the Gorenjska region.
On 26 March, Gostišče Metka in Črni Vrh nad Idrijo will be the third Idrija pub to get a new lease on life, even if for just a few hours, followed by yet another one in the area.
The visitors are encouraged to come for their Sunday lunch on foot as their forefathers used to do. This is also why the old gostilnas as a rule open on a sunny Sunday. Sometimes the guests bring along music instruments, or arrive on horseback in keeping with the old custom.
Between 9am and 4pm on the designated day, Klatež will provide for the food, often serving traditional local dishes such as the žlikrofi. The guests can also enjoy Zajc beer and Fina Kava coffee.
"We have many ideas but the problem is time because we can only engage in joint projects outside the main season," Jože Podobnik, the owner of the Pivovarna Zajc brewery, said.
"The word about the project seems to have spread across the border, as we're now discussing the possibility of reviving osterias in Italy as well," he added.
The project has sparked new ideas too. The local community of Dole in the Idrija municipality held the final round of its winter league in an old card game at a former Gostilna Pri Felku. The players and the waitress wore old-fashioned costumes and there was live music as well.