After a 2-year COVID-enforced hiatus, next weekend Radovljica will again rightly live up to its destination slogan – Honestly Sweet – with the return of the hugely popular Radovjlica Chocolate Festival!
While Radovljica itself hasn’t changed much in the past couple of years – in a positive way, I mean – there are some changes to the forthcoming festival, so I went along to the press preview this Wednesday to find out all the juicy, or rather chocolatey, details!
The opening event of the festival – the gourmet Three Chefs’ Dinner – takes place on Friday 22nd April at Hiša Linhart in Linhart Square. This year the stars of the show will be three young chefs, mentored by three masterchefs.
The festival itself then kicks off on Saturday 23rd April from 9am to 8pm and continues on Sunday 24th April from 9am to 6pm.
The ‘chocolate’ part of the festival will take place this year in Radovljica’s town park, which is just minutes from the main bus station, so ideal if you plan to visit by public transport (unfortunately, maintenance work will be taking place on the railway line, so this year it won’t be possible to come by train).
Chocolatiers from Slovenia, Croatia and Italy will feature at the festival. Among the chocolates available to try (through the purchase of tasting coupons) and buy will be the winning chocolates from the annual festival ‘Best Praline’ competition, which this year was judged by the owners of the prestigious Zotter chocolate factory in Austria.
And Radovljica has even more reason to be proud, since first place was awarded to the chocolate and buckwheat praline made by the new Radol’ca Chocolate chocolatier!
The new Radovljica chocolate hearts made by the Molinet chocolatier in Kropa will also make their debut at the festival.
Meanwhile, in Linhart Square – the heart of the medieval old town – there will be a jam-packed entertainment programme with something for all the family.
The main highlights of this year’s entertainment programme include cookery workshops (chocolate, of course!), live music and dance performances, a chocolate roulette wheel, a 100kg ‘bar’ of Gorenjka chocolate to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gorenjska chocolate, stand-up comedy, face-painting, discount entry to the Museum of Apiculture, non-chocolate food from Taste Radol’ca (Hiša Linhart and Gostišče Draga) and more.
Click here to find the full programme for both days.
Hope to see you here in ‘Honestly Sweet’ Radovljica!
Radovljica is even richer, and sweeter, thanks to a great new addition – the new Radol’ca Chocolate boutique chocolate shop!
But calling it just a ‘shop’ is doing it an injustice, since it’s so much more.
All the chocolates are handmade on site at this new family-run venture, which is the brainchild of the former director of the Radovljica Tourist Board, Nataša Mikelj, who, together with her husband and eldest daughter, have set up and opened a new chapter in their lives and that of Radovljica.
Since having introduced the very popular and successful Radovljica Chocolate Festival to the town’s annual events calendar several years ago, Nataša’s interest was sparked in where chocolate comes from, how it’s made, flavour combinations, etc.
For several years she had tried to find someone who would be interested in opening a chocolate shop in Radovljica, but there was little interest. It was during lockdown that Nataša had time to think long and hard about her life, career and future and had a lightbulb moment when she realised what her new calling could be in life – chocolate!
And the result of many months of research, hard graft and learning the tools and tricks of the trade is certainly paying off, since passing trade is brisk and orders are already pouring in for Christmas gifts, business gifts, etc.
After almost a year-and-a-half of preventative measures of varying degrees, Radol’ca’s summer events calendar kicks off in style this week, with almost a year-and-a-half’s worth of events in just one week!
The first event, and one that many have been waiting (im)patiently for, is the Queen Real Tribute Band, who were lined up to perform at the 2020 Radovljica Chocolate Festival, and who were also on standby for this year’s festival – both of which were cancelled, though a somewhat smaller festival is scheduled for 11th and 12th September this year – and will now finally be on stage this Thursday 1st July in the first of a series of Thursday evening concerts throughout July. The evening is due to start at 8pm with a Taste Radol’ca culinary market in the Radovljica park, which is open to all, followed by the band at 9pm (ticketed event).
Those more interested in traditional Slovenian folk music can head for nearby Begunje na Gorenjskem where live music evenings have now resumed at Gostilna Avsenik (ticketed events) – the home of Slovenian folk music – with the Avsenik House Ensemble and other guest Slovenian folk music ensembles.
During this current heatwave, for many a cold beer is bound to hit the spot, so the Radovljica Craft Beer Festival, which takes place on Saturday 3rd July from 12noon onwards, is the place to be. The festival will be held in the Radovljica park and feature a food market with Slovenian craft beers and Taste Radol’ca food.
The Kropa Iron Forging Festival takes place on the same day, Saturday 3rd July. So, be sure to plan the day well and, in fact, why not head for Kropa first then stop off at Radovljica on the way back, but remember: Don’t drink and drive!
The festival will run from 10am to 6pm and includes free entrance to the Iron Forging Museum throughout the day, a reenactment of the life of Kropa’s blacksmiths with the Cofta Drama Group at 12noon in the Vigenjc Vice forge, a small craft market, open day at the UKO wrought iron factory, a demonstration of smelting iron ore, and more.
Also on the same day – yes, there’s more! – the regular monthly Vila Podvin farmers market takes place in the garden of Vila Podvin (one Michelin Star) from 10am to 12noon, where you can meet local producers and suppliers, and sample and buy their products.
Once you have recovered from all of the above, there are plenty of other events coming up through the month of July. Check out the events calendar for more details.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for somewhere (else) to ‘chill’, the Radovljica swimming pool is the ideal place to cool off at this time of year. I took this snap of it looking glorious in the sunshine earlier today from Obla gorica, the small hill behind the pool.
Note: many of the events are still subject to social distancing measures and are now ticketed, so be sure to check out the Visit Radol’ca website for the latest information.
Hooray, I am finally the bearer of some good news…it feels like a while since I’ve been able to say that!
Writing this feels a bit like groundhog day, as it was around this time last year that Slovenia began to exit its first lockdown and I published a similar blog on the subject. And here we are today, almost a year later and only now Radovljica, as well as the rest of Slovenia, is slowly beginning to re-open after three, seemingly endless, lockdowns.
Unfortunately, the vaccination programme is still going slowly – to date around one-fifth of the country’s 2 million residents has received at least one shot of a vaccine – but, notwithstanding, things are steadily moving in the right direction and finally, after 6 long months, the terraces of restaurants/bars etc. were able to re-open last week and as of yesterday (Monday 26 April) hotels and other accommodation facilities are able to open up to 30 rooms (regardless of the size of the property). Note, however, that a negative test or proof of vaccination is required to stay in an type of accommodation (camps included).
So, now you, well we if I include myself, can actually begin to start thinking about planning holidays, something that has seemed unthinkable for a long time now. And since most of us will no doubt – sensibly – prefer to avoid places overrun by mass tourism, it is destinations such as Radol’ca that come into their own with its boutique accommodation and numerous hiking trails and other off the beaten track attractions. So, here are a few ideas to help you in planning your visit to Radovljica – whether for a few hours, a few days, or even longer!
After record snowfall in some places, it’s still very much winter in Slovenia’s high mountains, fortunately here in Radol’ca there are plenty of hiking trails at lower altitudes. I’ve written about such trails on numerous occasions, so a quick search back through previous blog posts using key words will turn up plenty of info on hikes to, for example, Suharna, the Vodiška planina mountain hut, the Roblekov dom mountain hut, St. Peter’s church above Begunje na Gorenjskem, and more.
Of course, after all that fresh air and activity you will be in need of some sustenance, and you certainly won’t go hungry at Taste Radol’ca restaurants, the ethos of which is using seasonal, locally sourced, ingredients. At the time of writing, some of the restaurants have yet to re-open, since they are currently only allowed to serve customers outside on the terrace and for those with smaller terraces it is not worth their while re-opening. However, it is to be hoped that it won’t be too long until they are able to fully re-open. Radol’ca even has a Michelin-starred restaurant – Vila Podvin – as well as several other fine dining restaurants and numerous rural inns.
In terms of accommodation, there’s plenty to choose, from river-side camps to apartments, guest houses and other boutique accommodation.
In terms of events, it’s still a bit early to say what will and won’t take place this year. The Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which was cancelled last year and postponed this year, is provisionally scheduled to take place on 11th and 12th September this year, while the organisers are hoping that others events, such as the Craft Beer Festival and live music and food on Thursdays evenings in the square, will be able to go ahead in summer, in some form or another. But at the moment it’s a case of watch this space to see how things pan out.
Of course, all the above-mentioned are in the Radol’ca area itself, meaning there’s still a whole host of other places waiting to be explored in the surrounding areas; the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park are on the doorstep, Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are close, Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is just a cca. 40 minute drive, and even places such as the Postojna caves, the Soča valley, and Slovenia’s coast are all within a 1-2 hour drive – nothing is that far away in Slovenia!
So, I hope I have provided you with some food for thought and ideas to help your holiday planning and, as and when there is (even) more news about more things opening up, I’ll be in touch with more up-to-date info, or, in the meantime, do feel free to drop me a line if you need more info. Always happy to help, well, within reason that is!
In these testing times for all, it’s nice to at least be able to convey some good news: Radol’ca has struck gold! Well, obviously, not literally but it has been awarded a Gold Slovenian Green Destination label, which is surely as good, if not better! And, as one of just 14 destinations in the country that are holders of gold labels, I think that’s something to shout about!
The label, which is awarded by the Slovenian Tourist Board, is proof that Radovljica is on the right track not only in the field of tourism but also those of sustainable development, preserving nature and cultural heritage, and social inclusion.
So, why not come and see for yourself – when the virus situation allows, of course – why Radovljica is a ‘Gold’ destination, and experience its nature and culture, and, while you are here, you can play your part in helping its sustainable practice, too.
Choosing accommodation that is environmentally-friendly is a good way to start. One such is the Woodhouse B&B in Dobro polje, near Radovljica, which was conceived in a sustainable way, thus requiring less operating and maintenance costs. In fact, this B&B alone played a key part in Radovljica being awarded a ‘Gold’ destination label, since it is the holder of a Green Key certificate, which is one of the requirements for applying for a Slovenian Green Destination label. Click here to see the full range of accommodation in Radol’ca.
Of course, I couldn’t end without mentioning Coronavirus and its effect here in Radovljica and Slovenia as a whole.
At the time of writing (Monday 23 March), there have been three deaths here (all of whom had previous medical conditions) and over 400 confirmed cases. Social distancing is being enforced, whereby no more than five people are allowed to be outdoors together at any one time, but we can – for the time being and I’m praying that it stays this way – at least go out for walks in forests, etc., providing we maintain a safe distance from others we encounter.
Fortunately the Radol’ca area has numerous places where you can walk and escape into the embrace of nature whilst avoiding public areas. In addition to such trails being ideal now at a time when we are all forced to avoid each other, they are also great places to walk in the summer to avoid the heat and crowds. In Radol’ca these include the Lipnica Castle Trail and the Grabnarca Waterside NatureTrail.
All shops – other than food shops, post offices, banks and petrol stations – are closed, as are cafes, and all other services such as hairdressers, garages, etc. Sadly, the Radovljica Chocolate Festival has become a ‘victim’ of the virus too and has thus been cancelled. Such a shame for the organisers as a significant amount of work and time had already been invested. But I have no doubt that it will be back bigger and better than ever next year from 16-18 April 2021.
Click here to keep up-to-date on the developments in the Radol’ca area – in tourism terms.
I hope to be back with you soon with some more cheerful news and some photos of me out hiking and enjoying all that the Radol’ca area has to offer! Until then, stay safe and well!
Since I think I have a right these days to call myself a ‘Radolčanka’ (i.e. a Radovljica local), I thought I would share with you some of my top insider tips, some of which are more obvious than others!
So, in no particular order…
YOU WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY OR THIRSTY IN RADOVLJICA…at the last count – in my head that is so I could have forgotten the odd one – I totted up 23 bars, cafes and restaurants in Radovljica itself – not to mention the numerous others within the municipality. So, there’s no need to worry about going hungry or thirsty whilst visiting! And now there’s an exciting new ‘kid’ in town too – Linhart Hotel & Bistro – in Linhart Square, the heart of the old town. The hotel opened a couple of years ago but has just been taken over by the hugely successful and popular restaurant Vila Podvin, with head chef (and celebrity chef these days!) Uroš Štefelin at the helm. Expect bistro-style food – Uroš style!
THERE’S A VISIBLE TUNNEL... Okay, so it’s not an insider tip as such, but I’ve included it here since it’s easy to miss. The only preserved moat tunnel in Slovenia is found beneath Radovljica’s old town centre. It was renovated, and partly built-over, some years back, and is well-illuminated, meaning you can walk through it at any time as part of a visit to the old town centre. I’m rather lucky as I live just minutes from the old town and can therefore see it by day and by night, though the latter trumps it for me!
AND AN INVISIBLE/HIDDEN TUNNEL TOO…well, that is if legend is true! It is said that there is a tunnel that runs underground from the well in Linhart Square all the way to Lipnica Castle. To date no one has actually found it, but the legend lives on…!
AND EVEN A ‘SECRET’ CHAPEL…the Edith Stein Chapel is hidden away behind the vestry tower of Radovljica’s baroque St. Peter’s church in Linhart Square, and surprisingly few people even know it’s there. Edith Stein was a German-Jewish philosopher, born on 12 October 1891 to Jewish parents, who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun.
Also know as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she was canonised as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church, and is one of six co-patron saints of Europe. Edith and her sister Rosa, who was also a convert and an extern sister, were sent to the Carmelite monastery in Echt in the Netherlands in 1938 for their safety, where, despite the Nazi invasion in 1940, they remained until they were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.
WE HAVE RATHER LOVELY CEMETRIES…bear with me on this one! I know it might sound odd but it’s true, Radovljica’s (and in fact in general throughout the country) two cemetries are so well kept. There is always an abundance of fresh flowers, plants and glowing candles, and a sense of peace prevails. You can admire both the cemetries as you pass on a walk towards the Sava river and the Fux footbridge.
RADOVLJICA REALLY IS A ‘SWEET’ TOWN…in so many ways! Not only is the town’s slogan ‘Honestly Sweet‘ but Radovljica is also the home of the biggest and best chocolate festival in Slovenia and a honey festival too. This year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival – the 9th in a row – takes place from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th April.
WE LIKE TO STICK TOGETHER…Taste Radol’ca is a great example of this. Rather than being in competition with each other, many of Radol’ca’s restaurants have joined forces and, in doing so, have realised and reaped the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. In doing so they are also supporting local farmers, beekeepers and producers of other goods, by including locally sourced ingredients on their menus. Each year there are an increasing number of events at which Taste Radol’ca restaurants are present, such as the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, summer Thursday concert evenings, the November Month of Local Cuisine, various Christmas and New Year events, and more.
IT LOOKS GREAT FROM ABOVE OR BELOW…Wherever you view Radovljica from – whether up high in the mountains or down beneaths its terraces – Radovljica’s old town centre with its prominent church is picture postcard stuff! So, whether you choose a stroll beside the Sava river on the Sava River Trail, or one of the marked hiking trails, such as to St. Peter’s church above Begunje, or even higher to the Roblek mountain hut or the peak of Begunščica, you are assured of a great view and a totally different perspective of the beauty of Radovljica and its surroundings.
SEEK OUT BUNKERS FROM THE RUPNIK LINE…the Rupnik Line is a system of fortifications that were built during the 1930’s by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as a defence line on the border with the Kingdom of Italy. The strategically placed forts and bunkers were never actually used for military or defence purposes, but they at least brought residents a temporary solution to the unemployment and financial troubles which affected them due to the location of the Rapallo Border. In Radovljica there are bunkers on the Obla gorica hill, which is located behind the swimming pool, as well as on the grassy bank in the street Cankarjeva ulicacop. I recently read that, in fact, there are around 50 such bunkers located across the Jelovica plateau, Radovljica and Begunje na Gorenjskem, though, to date at least, I’ve only come across a handful. Hmm, an idea is brewing, how many (more) can I/you find?!
I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for exploring (more of) Radovljica and you’ll agree that’s there’s certainly more than meets the eye!
The building houses numerous attractions and institutions, among them the Radovljica Music School, the Museum of Apiculture, the Municipal Museum, two small gallery areas, and the wonderful Baroque Hall.
Photo: Tourism Radol’ca
The Orthenburgs built a small castle in the 13th century on the site on today’s manor. The structure was rebuilt following an earthquake in 1511 by the building’s then-tenant Count Dietrichstein, and in the following century it was further expanded by the Counts of Thurn-Valsassina.
Immediately on entering the manor through the impressive, not to mention heavy, door you spot the beautiful grand central staircase, made out of green tuff, which hints at the grandeur of the building.
Before reaching the staircase you will notice a photographic exhibition on the right-side of the entrance hall. The exhibition changes every month so it’s always worth popping in for a look when passing!
Much of the space on the ground floor is today given over to the Radovljica Music School. But if you have a nose around, you will discover other hidden features, such as this sundial, which I discovered for the first time today, despite having lived here for almost 13 years!
Photo: Adele in Slovenia
Head up the magnificent stairs to visit the Museum of Apiculture and the adjoining Municipal Museum, while numerous concerts take place throughout the year in the Baroque Hall with its amazing acoustics.
The Museum of Apiculture is a hive of activity for beekeepers and bee enthusiasts! It houses a wide collection of bee hives and figural hives, beekeeping equipment and tools.
The museum’s extensive collection of painted beehive frontal panels, including the oldest known in the world, is a particular highlight. Each one tells its own unique folk tale.
The manor also plays host to some of Radovljica’s larger annual events, among them the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which takes place both indoors and outdoors at various venues throughout the town, as well as the Radovljica Festival – a festival of early music.
A chocolate-themed fashion show in the Radovljica Manor!
Outside, to the right of the manor, there is a statue of the art historian and honorary citizen of Radovljica Cene Avguštin, and also a small exhibition titled ‘Radovljica, Our Old Town Through the Centuries’.
So, when visiting Radovljica, be sure to take time to discover the manor – both inside and out. And to end, one useful tip…there are toilets on the ground floor. Not an attraction in themselves but always good to know, wouldn’t you agree?!
Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica is a family-run restaurant with rooms that has a long tradition and a great reputation. It is also one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, takes part in other culinary events such as Slovenian Restaurant Week and is featured in the Gault&Millau restaurant guide.
Five year’s ago, Maja Buden (nee Štiherle), daughter of Toni and granddaughter of Tone and the fourth generation to head up the family business, took over as manager of the inn. To mark this anniversary, as well as a certain ‘big’ birthday with a zero at the end, she threw a celebratory gathering last Friday! Happy Birthday and congratulations Maja!
And, of course, a Slovenian celebration wouldn’t be complete without accordion music and traditional entertainment!
Having recently translated a special edition newsletter to mark this special anniversary, I was keen to be able to share with readers of my blog some of the highlights and photographs of the inn’s long and fascinating history, and, fortunately, Maja gave me the nod to do so!
Kunstelj Inn was opened by Franc Kunstelj in 1873 and some years later handed it over to his son Rudolf. Rudolf was very ambitious and had a vision and belief that the small family inn could become the heart and soul of social life in Radovljica.
The Rudolf Kunstelj Inn in 1906. Photo: 110 years of the Radovljica Tourist Association
He set to work building a large lounge with a stage for celebrations, a wine cellar, a freezer and a veranda with views of the Julian Alps. The renovations placed Kunstelj Inn on the map of the most popular local restaurants in Slovenia.
Grandmother Jerica later took over the running of the inn. She had a reputation as a fearless woman who always knew exactly what she wanted and was not afraid to tell people to their face what was on her mind! She survived two wars, became a widow at a very young age, raised two sons, and took over and managed Kunstelj Inn all by herself.
Many of the dishes Jerica introduced onto the inn’s menu can still be found today, albeit with a modern ‘Maja twist’, as well as other traditional Slovenian food, including blood sausages, Carniolan sausage with sauerkraut or turnip, buckwheat polenta, homemade štruklji and more.
Meanwhile, grandmother Maria left home at the age of 14 to work at the Roblek dom mountain hut. Tone and the now legendary Slavko Avsenik – the founder of Slovenian folk music – used to visit the hut as rumour had it that there were a lot of pretty girls there! And it turned out to be true, since Tone and Maria met and later married, and Slavko Avsenik even played at their wedding!
Grandmother Maria (second from left) doing washing at the Roblek dom mountain hut
A particularly amusing tale is that of Grandad Tone and his golf ‘caddy’ Grol. Tone didn’t start to play golf until he was 62, when, due to his weak heart he gave up hunting as well as skiing and golf became a form of relaxation and enjoyment.
As the doctors had instilled in him that he must strictly avoid all forms of exertion, for some time Tone thought about how he could lighten the load of carrying his heavy golf clubs from one hole to the next and he hit on the idea that his faithful companion Grol could help!
Uncle Ivan made Grol a special trolley for transporting Tone’s golf clubs, and Grol adapted really well to his role as ‘caddy’.
Maja’s father Toni regularly went on exchange to Switzerland to “learn from the best”. It was there that he learnt skills from one of the most well known Swiss patisserie chefs, Hans van den Klinkenberg, in Hotel Eden in Lugano. Toni brought all the tricks and secrets he learnt from the patisserie chef to Kunstelj Inn’s kitchen, which led to Kunstelj’s strudels, pies, ice-cream and other cakes soon gaining a reputation as the best desserts in Gorenjska.
Like her father, Maja also has a passion for desserts and, also like her father, she went to Austria to learn her patisserie skills. Her role model, who she met on one of her culinary travels, is Lea Linser; at that time Lea was running an acclaimed restaurant in Luxembourg and was the first ‘tv chef’ on German television. To this day Maja turns to Lea’s cookery books for inspiration for her signature desserts.
Some year’s back Maja created the first Kunstelj ‘grizike’ (cake pops), which later became – and still are – one of the star attractions of the Radovljica Chocolate Festival!
You can also visit during the time of Slovenian Restaurant Week, which takes place twice per year for 10 days in autumn and spring, when you can take advantage of a 3-course menu for just 19 euros per person, the next edition will take place from 11th – 20th October (note: the website is currently only available in English, but menus will soon also be available in English and by next year the entire website too – working on that one too!).
Kunstelj Inn is also part of Taste Radol’ca and for the whole month of November all nine participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants offer special menus based on local ingredients also for a set price of 19 euros per person.
So, now you know (some of) Kunstelj Inn’s history, why not visit to find out (and taste!) more!
‘Honestly Sweet‘ was chosen as the slogan for the tourist destination of Radol’ca, which encompasses Radovljica itself (where I live!) and the other surrounding towns and villages in the municipality, due to the town’s long connection with all things ‘sweet’ i.e. beekeeping and chocolate.
The Radovljica tourist board came up with the idea for the Radovljica Beekeeping Adventure in order to consolidate the town’s position as the capital of Slovenian beekeeping as well as a desire to offer more activities for families. The idea for a bee-related adventure was an obvious choice and was inspired by the events last year to mark the first-ever World Bee Day.
The Beekeeping Adventure has been designed as a family adventure. It features four interactive points in the old town centre of Radovljica, the first of which is the apiary in the town park.
The next is in front of St. Peter’s church…
…and at the viewpoint at the end of the old town centre.
Despite living here 12 years, I can never tire of the view from Radovljica towards the Julian Alps and the Jelovica plateau, and even on a partly cloudy late May day – in a month where there have only been 2 days without rain so far – the views still blow me away, every time!
The adventure concludes with a visit to the Museum of Apiculture in the Radovljica Manor, where you can watch bees hard at work and find out plenty more about the history of Slovenian beekeeping, see an exhibition of the oldest painted beehive frontal panels, and learn even more about just how amazing bees really are!
The fun, creative and educational tasks have been devised to allow children to hone their manual skills and to learn about beekeeping, whilst seeking out the path with the help of a map helps develop outdoor orientation and spatial recognition skills.
Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica – in the Radovljica Manor in the old town centre
The Beekeeping Adventure is available from 24th May to 31st October 2019. Since the Museum of Apiculture is closed on Mondays, it is recommended that you visit from Tuesday to Sunday. The path itself is very short and flat, but together with solving the tasks and a visit to the museum, you should allow approximately 1.5-2 hours.
To end, on an entirely different theme, though one that many would also consider to be ‘sweet’, next Saturday a brand new festival is coming to Radovjlica – the Radovjlica Craft Beer Festival. Weather permitting the festival will kick off at 12 noon on Saturday 1st June and will feature a number of Slovenian craft breweries, live music, and food from Taste Radol’ca restaurants. A shuttle bus will also run every half hour from Bled.
So, now there are even more reasons to come and visit the lovely town that I call ‘home’!
The village of Ljubno might be small but its numerous beautifully frescoed houses and ‘miraculous’ church are a real feast for the eyes!
When driving along the Gorenjska motorway from east to west, just before reaching the Ljubno tunnel, to the left you can see the village and its closely-packed houses. However, its not until you get up close and take a walk among the houses, that you get a true sense of this small village.
There is an interesting story of how Ljubno was transformed into an important pilgrimage place in the 17th century. During renovation of Ljubno’s village church – the Church of Mary Help of Christians, also known as the Church of the ‘Stricken’ Mary – a builder struck the statue of Mary and blood poured out of the ‘wound’ and wouldn’t stop. The story quickly became known throughout the land and attracted ever more pilgrims. Today it is not as popular as nearby Brezje, however, when in the area, it is still worth a visit.
A visit to Ljubno can be an extension of a walk along the Brezje Pilgrimage Trail (Božja pot), which today runs along the once most commonly used pilgrimage trail from Otoče to the Basilica of MaryHelp of Christians in Brezje. There is an information board (in Slovene) about the trail adjacent to the church.
The path in Otoče begins at the railway station, hence making it ideal for those reliant on public transport.
Immediately on leaving the station you will find the first information board about the trail (in Slovene).
First walk along the village road to the junction with the main road and turn left. After just a few metres you can choose to follow the marked path to make a detour to Ljubno, or take the direct route to Brezje. If you opt for the latter, which is cca. 5kms one-way, continue along the verge of the road for a further cca. 5 mins until you reach the shrine of St. John of Nepomuk (kapelica sv. Janeza Nepomuka).
After crossing the bridge over a stream take the wooden steps to the right of another shrine that lead up steeply on a forest path.
On emerging from the forest head towards the underpass under the motorway. Shortly thereafter you will see the sign for the village of Brezje. Follow the road up a short incline into the village and then just ‘follow your nose’ to the basilica, you can’t exactly miss it!
In 1988 the then Church of St. Vitus was elevated to the status of minor basilica by Pope John Paul II, who also visited in 1996. The basilica has become a popular pilgrimage destination to where people flock from all over Slovenia and further afield, too, particularly on Assumption Day, which is celebrated on 15th August and is a public holiday in Slovenia.
Opposite the basilica there is a small park where you can sit in peace and admire the basilica, read the information boards about Brezje’s history, and soak up the views of the surrounding countryside and mountains.
You don’t need to be a pilgrim, or even to be particularly religious, to enjoy a walk along the trail; it’s just one of the many attractions in the Radol’ca area. Click here to see even more, oh and by the way, if you happen to be in the area in April, or are planning a visit and are pondering when to come, don’t miss the Radovljica Chocolate Festival from 12th-14th April, about which I will, of course, be writing (and eating!) more soon!