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Šmartno na tondu
The guided tour, which lasts several hours, begins in San Martin, a restaurant and a hotel near the entrance into the fortified village of Šmartno. Foto: Mojca Dumančič
The culinary and arts tour of Šmartno takes place twice a week in the afternoons. Foto: Mojca Dumančič

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Šmartno on a plate

A tour of culinary delights and arts within the town’s fortifications
16. June 2017 ob 19:18
Šmartno - MMC RTV SLO

In addition to winegrowing, winemaking, and the growing of fruit, tourism is becoming an increasingly important industry in the Goriška Brda region. And locals are certainly inventive with what they are offering to visitors.

Beginning on Friday, they invite visitors to taste “Brda on a plate.” The event will take place in the oldest medieval village on one of the Brda region’s many hills, and will use the slogan “Šmartno on a Tondo", which is what locals call a plate.

Winemakers, restauranteurs, herbalists, and artists – after all, Šmartno is a village of painters and ceramics makers – have joined forces and will take travelers on a tour of the past and the present behind the walls of the fortified village. Tina Novak Samec, the head of the Brda Association for Tourism, Culture, the Youth, and Sports, explains: “We’re returning to our roots. ‘Šmartno on a Plate’ is our new tourist marketing niche – we will serve a mix of enological and culinary delights, seasoned with just the right amount of our local history, traditions, and an artistic vibe, refined with a personal approach to every guest.”

The guided tour, which lasts several hours, begins in San Martin, a restaurant and a hotel near the entrance into the fortified village of Šmartno. We are met by our host, Vesna Valentinčič: “The first welcome takes place on our terrace, which provides a wonderful view all the way to the Alps and the Adriatic Sea.” Visitors then walk into an imposing watchtower by the entrance into the fortified village. Already waiting at the second stop is Eva Mavrič of the Marica House, a restaurant and inn featuring traditional Brda cuisine and top-quality Belica wines. Upon entering medieval Šmartno, most guests are enchanted by the village with its narrow streets and traditional houses and stone-built extensions with open hearths known as izpahnjenke. Above the houses, visitors can glimpse the belfry of the Brda’s largest church, named after none other than St. Martin. The church features exceptional frescoes and other decoration by the artist Tone Kralj.

After the main course comes the dessert – and the third stop on the culinary tour around Šmartno, at the Pr’Naad Olive Bar. All lovers of cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil get to participate in tastings of the golden elixir, as olive oil is referred to by the locals. Pr’Naad adds art to the experience. In the upper floor, it houses an extensive gallery, while the ground floor houses a space for events where jazz, world music, and folk concerts are held.

The “Šmartno on a Plate” tour makes its fourth stop at the workshop of ceramics maker Tanja Rusjan. The final stop is undoubtedly the most fragrant location on the streets of Šmartno; that’s the shop run by Katjuša Reja, with a telling name – Nona Louisa.

How to experience “Šmartno on a Plate”?
The culinary and arts tour of Šmartno takes place twice a week in the afternoons. Detailed information is available at the Brda Tourist Information Center or at the Brda Tourist Association. The price is 39 euros, including food, beverage, a guided tour, and a souvenir. The tour takes at least four hours.

Text and photography: Mojca Dumančič, TV Slovenija
Translated by J. B.