Monday, August 20, 2012

Slovenia Journal VII: Bled

photograph by Hallie Cohen
Bled was the site of one of Marshall Tito’s summer residences. Tito is looked back on with fondness by some Slovenians to the extent that he was the twentieth century iteration of the benevolent despot, a Frederick the Great of the cold war who adhered to the pleasure principle. From a political point of view, he was an irredentist who created a form of nationalism that brought formerly warring Bosnians, Serbs, Croats, Montenegrans and Slovenians together under one banner. It was not jingoism, but an attempt to subsume the parts to the whole for the sake of peace. Unfortunately, his legacy did not live on. The mansion on the enchanting lake, which faces a castle carved into a dramatic rock cliff, is now the Vila Bled and if you are lucky you will be assigned one of the rooms formerly occupied by party apparachniks whose large conference rooms adjacent to living quarters are still decorated in the functional socialist realist interior design--the one thing that Yugoslavian Communists truly had in common with their Soviet bedfellows. Slovenia is a thriving country today. It was immune to most of the conflicts which affected Bosnia and Croatia in the 90’s. Bled is not bleeding by any means. Lake Bled’s beaches are packed with vacationing Slovenians, Italians and even some American tourists in the summer and the onion domes on the churches and the crowds of sun worshippers reflect the rich mixture of  Bavarian, Slavic, and Austro-Hungarian influences that characterize the region.

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