The Slovenia Times

Retracing the footsteps of Czech glassmakers in Goriška

Trnovo Forrest Plateau above the Vipava Valley. Photo: Aljoša Rehar/STA

A karst plateau rising above the northern edge of the Vipava Valley is at the centre of a cross-border project that will explore the heritage of Czech glassblowers who moved there in the early 18th century to practise their craft. Their main product was a rose liqueur bottle that was exported all the way to India.

The project, involving partners from Slovenia and Italy, has received €200,000 in funding from the GO!2025 - Interreg Italy-Slovenia Small Projects Fund, as part of a call for which funding was approved by the European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation.

The lead partner in the project is the Milko Kos Historical Institute, a part of the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU). Its Italian partner is the Regional Institute for Cultural Heritage from Gorizia (ERPAC).

Heritage waiting to be explored

The heritage of glassmaking on the Trnovo Forest Plateau was first explored by Italian researchers, in particular Mario Ranieri Cossar. This is why many of the artefacts and archival material are kept by Italian institutions, including the Regional Museum at Gorizia Castle, Petra Kolenc, the project manager at ZRC SAZU, told a presentation of the project in Nova Gorica on 8 May.

Historians believe that Czech glassmakers from Hamburg stayed in to the region in the period between 1722 and 1830, after which they moved to the Kočevje area in the south of present-day Slovenia.

One of the question the project will try to answer is who exactly were the people who moved to the Trnovo Forest Plateau and why they moved there, Kolenc said.

The researchers will travel to Hamburg, Germany, to study written records, and Venice to learn more about glassmaking. They will also rely on citizen science, that is what the locals know about the subject.

Glassware that travelled to India

The main product of the glassworks, known as glažute in Slovenian, on the Trnovo Forest Plateau, was a bottle for rose liqueur that the Habsburg monarchy exported via Trieste in today's Italy and Spain all the way to India.

The Trnovo Forest Plateau glassworks made up to 600,000 bottles a year, as well as ornamental glass, accessories for stained glass windows, church effigies and laboratory utensils, Kolenc said.

The partners will present their research results in a bilingual collection, compile a catalogue of preserved glass products, and mount a three-part exhibition in Italy's Gorizia, Slovenia's Tolmin and Lokve, a village on the Trnovo Forest Plateau.

20 kilometres of trails

They will also mark around 20 kilometres of nature trails between Dolenja Trebuša and Lokve and local providers will add culinary element to round off the tourist product.

A documentary essay made in cooperation with director Anja Medved will be made available on the website of the project Glass-Routes: Following the Paths of Glassmakers in Goriška.

The Tolmin Museum will spotlight glassmaking heritage next year as part of an exhibition on the economic exploitation of forests. Moreover, glassblowers will be invited to join sculptors at the Art Circle Wood & Stone residency in Lokve next year.


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