Friday, August 17, 2012

Slovenia Journal VI: A Tale of Two Cities

Drawing by Hallie Cohen  of Kranjska Gora Church
Start from Tarcenta in Northern Italy and then ride through the Rezia mountains 20 or so kilometers through the Tanamea Pass to the Slovenian town of Zoga (translation “saw mill”). Krn Mountain on the Slovenian side is where Hemingway worked as an ambulance driver in the First World War. It served as the backdrop for A Farewell to Arms. The terrain is awe inspiring and dramatic. As you approach Slovenia, onion domes emerge out of nowhere in the mountains. But what is even more dramatic besides the beaut, punctuated by the turquoise waters of the Soca River, is how a relatively short distance defines two radically different worlds. Look down from a point in the mountains at night into the Italian and Slovenian sides. One is a mass of connected lights (Italy), the other (Slovenia) is characterized by huge areas of darkness separated by sporadic light. One conveys the feeling of Western Europe, the other is a world made up of Celtic, Slavic, Bavarian and Tyrolian influences resulting from successive waves of invasion. Parts of Slovenia belonged to both Italy and Austria- Hungary and were fought over by both of these powers, among others, throughout varying periods of history (which explains why cemeteries memorializing the dead of many countries are ubiquitous throughout the countryside). Riding through the steep mountain passes and small villages, one can’t help feeling this is the terrain where myths and legends were and perhaps are still being made. As you drive past a town like Zoga, you get the feeling of watching a folk tale spreading out before your eyes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.