To the mining town of Idrija, we will ride along the border of the Dinaric and Alpine worlds. Idrija is clustered between the hills, and the castle above it used to be the seat of the headquarters of the mine (today turned into a museum). The castle was never inhabited by nobility. Underground contains a myriad of trenches once active mercury mine. A new world opens up to the visitor. The local guide tells us the whole story, but after the tour, we always get stuck with žlikrofi.

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The whole Soča valley was the stage of major military operations including the twelve battles of the Isonzo on the Italian front in World War I between May 1915 and November 1917, in which over 300,000 Austro-Hungarian and Italian soldiers lost their lives. Many constant clashes strongly marked the Soča River and its mountains: numerous caverns, ditches, military paths, graves and tombs testify to the nonsensical nature of the war. Also, the nature helps to cover the traces of the war – the vegetation extends the old paths and the entrances to the caverns. The local people of course, maintain their memory through large and small collections and through newly cleansed paths and caverns. Worth the visit is the museum in Kobarid, and on one of the nearby hills with the sanctuary of St. Anton Padovanski, where the remains of several thousand Italian soldiers are stored. The Kobariški štrukelj ( dumping) is a well known delicious dessert made from dough stuffed with walnuts, raisins and such like, to which the culinary grandees of the town even dedicate a festival.


The path continues along the Soča River up into the alpine valley of Trenta, where the river Soča sources. Due to its emerald-green water, the river is marked as “The Emerald Beauty.” For late snack we usually take čompe and skuta (potatoes with salted cottage cheese) as a starter. Čompe in a local dialect means potatoes. Local cheese producers are preparing salted cottage cheese by using old recipes. There is also a mountain hut nearby the Soča sources, where some strong stews can be tried.


On the way back we drive to the Vršič pass. Soon on the way up we can see the statue of Julius Kugy (1858-1944), known as the father of modern alpinism in the Julian Alps. He devoted most of his mountaineering career to climbing the peaks of the Julian Alps, discovered and marked more than 50 new routes.

Many serpentines were built by Russian prisoners during the First World War. Due to poor conditions, and especially avalanches, death was present precisely every day. With regard to the memory of all victims, a Russian chapel was built along the road, which reminds and remembers.


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