Hiking in the Footsteps of Matija Vertovec
The biggest group hike in the Vipava Valley takes visitors through sloping vineyards and the Valley’s picturesque villages, where locals are waiting to serve up a traditional homemade delicacy.
This hike takes place every year on the first Sunday after the feast of St. Martin. It begins between 7 and 9 AM under an oak tree before the village of Ustje, a little to the south from Ajdovščina.
This traditional hike traverses the area where the famous priest, vintner, and author Matija Vertovec lived and worked, teaching others in the Vipava Valley how to make wine. He was the first person to write about wine-making, vineyards, and wine cellars in the Slovenian language, when he published his book Vinoreja (“The Art of Winegrowing”) on the subject in 1844. The day of the hike is marked by both morning and afternoon masses in the churches in Planina and Šmarje. After mass in Šmarje those in attendance gather before a monument to Matija Vertovec in order to commemorate this important historical figure, who had a massive influence on the development of grape growing and winemaking in the Vipava Valley.
After leaving Ustje and traveling through Dolenje, Planina is the next destination, where Matija Vertovec worked, then through Šmarje, where he was born, and finally back through the villages of Vrtovče and Tevče to the starting point in Ustje. During the hike visitors will feast their eyes on a number of natural and cultural monuments, including a site with many fossils along the Vipava, the beauty of the valley’s typical settlements, and the centre of the village of Šmarje, which is a protected piece of cultural heritage. There are many scenic overlooks, for instance at Ostri Vrh, where the whole Vipava Valley can be seen in all its splendor. The well-marked trail winds through vineyards that are bathed in stunning autumn colors at this time of year, and through ancient villages in the valley, whose residents are waiting to extend their hospitality. They display their wares behind stands, inviting hikers to enjoy a taste, and at the end of the hike there is a farmer’s market with fresh, local products awaiting visitors when the hike goes through Ustje.
This hike takes around 5 hours, or can last even longer if you stop to try a glass of wine at one of the many wine cellars lining the path.