The Goriška Brda, Nova Gorica and Vipava Valley

The Goriška Brda

A road from Plave leads up a steep hill. Vrhovlje offers a view of the hilly wine region Goriška Brda. Another road to that region comes from Solkan. Although the Goriška Brda is like a tongue stretching into Italy, the villages in the region are completely Slovene. Interestingly, the villages at the foot of Brda on the Italian side are Italian. The national border is very clear here. The Goriška Brda is known for excellent wines and numerous wine cellars.

Ruins on the hill testify to the fact that Kojsko used to be a fortified village. Nearby are villages Šmartno and Vedrijan. At Dobrovo are a restored castle and a big wine cellar where most of the wine from the Brda is brought. At the southernmost end of the Brda lies Vipolže, known for its Renaissance castle and a 500 years old cypress alley.

Nova Gorica

After flowing through a narrow gorge between Sabotin ( 609 m ) and Sveta Gora ( 681 m ), the Soča leaves the mountains and enters the Friuli plain. It crosses the Slovene – Italian border at Solkan and runs on Italian territory until it flows into the Adriatic sea.

Solkan sits under Sabotin ( 609 m ). In Roman times it was a military post that gave Solkan its name. Today Solkan is an integral part of Nova Gorica. Above Solkan lies the village of Grgar with a road passing through the Čepovan Valley ( Čepovanska Dolina ) to the Idrijca valley.

Nova Gorica was only built after WW II when Gorizia was awarded to Italy. The state border between Gorizia and Nova Gorica runs along the railroad in the middle of the two towns.
The Kromberk Castle was built in the 17th century and now houses the Gorica Museum.
There is a border crossing with Italy at Šempeter and another one only 3 km to the south, at Vrtojba.

Roads from four different directions and railroads from three meet in Dornberk. The railroad and the road to Sežana are built in the narrow Branik Valley ( Braniška Dolina ). In the wider part of the valley lies the village of Branik. On the hill above it sits Rihemberk Castle.

Vipava Valley

The Vipava Valley ( Vipavska Dolina ) stretches between steep slopes of Tmovski gozd and the Nanos in the north, and hills at the foot of the Kras in the south. It consists of the valley bottom and wine-growing hills.

The center of Vipava Valley is Ajdovščina, a crossroads of important roads leading through the valley: through Tmovski gozd to Lokve and the Idrijca valley, and from Gorizia to Postojna and Logatec. It was the site of a walled Roman military camp with towers, called Castra ad Fluvium Frigidum ( “the camp by the cold river” – the cold river being today’s Hubelj ). For centuries Ajdovščina has been in the possession of various aristocratic families. Due to its position, it became the center of the Vipava Valley in the 18th century.

Written sources mention Vipavski križ as early as 1252. It was in its prime around 1500. At that time it was a walled town protected by a mighty Renaissance castle with four towers. The medieval core of the village is still preserved. There was also a monastery founded in 1636. In the 19th century, as Ajdovščina started to progress, the population of Vipavski Križ started to decline. At the end of the 19th century, a once-mighty medieval town became and remained a village.

Another important town in the valley is Vipava. The Vipava River springs from a rocky wall in the old part of the town. The ruins of a castle are still visible on the rock. Near Vipava, in the direction of Ajdovščina, is atop a small hill Zemono Mansion surrounded by vineyards.

The villages in the Vipava Valley are situated among the vineyards on the slopes and hills. In winter those parts are hit by the bora ( burja ), the northerly wind blowing from Tmovski gozd with a speed of over 150 km/h.

The road crosses the bridge which is known for bungee jumping and leads to the Goriška Brda. The railroad runs across the bridge up the Soča valley and then through the narrow Baška grapa and a tunnel to Bohinj and further on to Jesenice.

Grgar is almost shyly hidden in a small basin. Its karst surroundings and ravines on the “intermittent” Slatna river are certainly worth seeing.

Numerous pilgrims drive to Sveta gora (681 m) above Solkan where you’ll find a monastery with a big church. From the top of the mountain extend great views of the surrounding hills and the Gorica region, as well as across the Friuli Plain and all the way to the Adriatic sea.

Solkan is also known for a climatic peculiarity – it has no frost. Naturally, several gardeners benefit from it greatly.

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