Our cover story tells about the various features of Slovenia, focusing in particular on the attributes green, active and healthy. Stories from individual Slovenian regions are rooted in real historical events and narratives or relate to culinary specialities. There is an abundance of stories from different regions in Slovenia to be told but it is not possible to highlight all of them. Slovenia has many fascinating stories to share, featuring themes such as joy of life, friendship, wine, love, brave personalities or mystical creatures.
Alpine Fairytale Land
Certainly one of the most important cover stories for Slovenia is tied to the Alps. Most of the stories relate to Bled, Bohinj, Kranj, Kranjska gora and Škofja Loka.
The legend of the sunken bell and the story of the Bled cream slice (known as kremšnita) are the best known among tourists visiting Slovenia. The legend of the sunken bell claims there is a bell at the bottom of Lake Bled. A young grieving widow had it cast in memory of her beloved husband. The bell never reached the island in Lake Bled: it sank to the bottom of the lake during a terrible storm. The widow spent the rest of her life in a convent as a nun. After her death, the Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to the island in Lake Bled. No one knows which Pope. The widow's wish was granted and the church bell on the island in Lake Bled still makes wishes come true – you just have to ring it.
The story of the kremšnita is the story of an unchanged recipe for a delicious cream slice speciality of Bled and the enormous quantities sold. The cream slice made its first appearance in Bled in 1953, when master confectioner Ištvan Lukačevič brought its recipe to the town.
Recently, the story of the potica nut roll cake, a true Slovenian speciality, has also become popular in Bled. The Bled Island Potičnica Café, where along with a delicious cup of coffee, you can indulge in a slice of walnut, chocolate, tarragon or even meat potica is definitely an idea that Slovenia needed. There should be more potičnica in Slovenia. Other interesting stories from this region involve a fearless shepherd boy named Kekec, the Triglav Fairy Tales and the Goldenhorn.
Salty and Sweet Sea
This region is famous for its story about salt, which is one of those best manifested in tourist products in Slovenia such as the Piranske soline brand, the Thalasso Spa Lepa Vida, and the Sečovlje Salt-pans Landscape Park. Among these stories, Sweet Istria (Sladka Istra) – the international festival of desserts and sweet products in September – is the biggest event of its kind in Slovenia and very attractive in terms of culinary delights. A special feature of this festival is that the organisers preserve the old tradition of preparing desserts, while introducing new forms of creativity in confectionery.
This region also offers mystic stories, such as the Legend of the White Dove (Izola) and the Tale of the White Horse (Lipica).
Sun and Wine
Along with the Alpine region, the Podravje region has one of the strongest cover stories – a fairy tale of sun and wine. The region is known primarily for the oldest grapevine in the world (Maribor). Grapes of the Žametovka (velvet) variety have been grown in the Lent district of Maribor for more than 400 years. The story has resulted in a local wine tasting in the Old Vine House and has produced a series of events such as the pruning of the old vine, the erection of the wind rattle, grape harvest and celebration of St Martin's Day. In the region of Spodnje Podravje, the town of Ptuj boasts the highest number of stories, associated with the Roman period and with carnival time.
In the Savinja region, the town of Velenje and the story of brave miners are well worth a mention. In the abandoned coal mine tunnels of the Škale pit, the Coal Mining Museum of Slovenia was set up to offer an underground world experience featuring the Bergmandeljc dwarf, a local legend. The coal mine story serves as the nucleus of all other Slovenian coal mine stories and can be linked to all other stories of the Šaleška Valley countryside, which revolve around the mysteries of the earth (eg. the Smrekovec volcano), in harmony with nature.
The Legend of King Matjaž
Once upon a time, long ago, the Slovenian land was ruled by the wealthy and just King Matjaž. Peace and prosperity reigned in the country, but then a horde of Turks swarmed in from the East and attacked the country. In the unequal fight, King Matjaž and his army fought bravely until the king was only left with a handful of men. When the king realized that the Turks were too strong, he and his surviving companions retreated. Yet, because the king was a just ruler, he was not killed, and the cliff opened up to him and hid him from his enemies. He now sleeps at a table with his soldiers, and once his beard grows long enough to wrap nine times around the table he will wake up and rescue his people from their oppressors. The legend has produced a tourist event “The Castles of King Matjaž” with children and adults building castles from snow under Peca mountain in the Koroška region.
The Land of Health and Friendly People
Stories from the Pomurje region are mainly associated with the numerous spas and thermal springs, viticulture and wine production, horse breeding and cuisine (Prekmurje pork meat and sausages, Prekmurje stew (bograč), prleška tünka (pork and minced bacon with lard), Prekmurje layer cake (prekmurska gibanica) and numerous bread cakes (pogače).
This region is famous for the story about the formation of the Pannonian Sea. Millions of years ago, the plain of Ptuj, the Prekmurje region, and a part of the Goričko, Prlekija and Slovenske gorice area were covered by the sea, which bequeathed the land a rich legacy of thermal and mineral waters. Natural mineral water springs in this area have been used for centuries. Thermal springs hidden deep in the heart of the earth were accidentally discovered by oil prospectors in the middle of the last century. Instead of black gold, they found the springs, and soon realised their healing power. Not long after that, the healing effects of thermal and mineral water on people's health and wellbeing were also confirmed by the experts. This part of Slovenia abounds with health resorts, which have also gained popularity among foreign guests.
In the country's central region, the Slovenian capital provides the best stories. Ljubljana is characterised by the story of its dragon, the Legend of Urška and the Water Man, and the tale of Martin Krpan. Among the tales of Ljubljana, the story of architect Jože Plečnik is worthy of mention.
Visitors arriving in Ljubljana information centres are increasingly interested in local products typical of Ljubljana. As part of the project “Taste Ljubljana”, Tourism Ljubljana has recently published a booklet on traditional Ljubljana dishes.
Carniolan Sausage in Space
This article is incomplete without the 'Carniolan Sausage in space' story. Time for a modern-day story. Did you know that in December 2006 the Carniolan Sausage made its first appearance in space, taking off in Space Shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral? The sausage orbited Earth in a care package until Christmas, when it was eaten by the astronauts, including Sunita Williams, the American astronaut with Slovenian roots. So the invitation goes: If you are unable to taste the sausage in its space version, at least drop by and taste its 'earthly' version at the Klobasarna Ljubljana sausage restaurant.
Slovenia is a country of boutique tourism, and its beauty lies in its very uniqueness. This is not just a beautiful country, it is a fascinating one. The landscape is diverse and every corner has its own story. Such a wealth of heritage is impossible to describe in just a few sentences. We would need pages and pages.