Some 80km east of Ljubljana in an area dominated by rolling, tree-covered hills intersected by the Voglajna River, the municipality of Štore has a relatively recent past inextricably connected with the iron and steel industries as well as the age-old traditions of agriculture, beekeeping and forestry.
Growing to maturity in the 19th century, Štore, which covers just 28km2 and is home to a little over 4,000 people spread around its towns and villages, is currently reinventing itself as a green tourist destination and, due to both its excellent location and the fact that it boasts a surprisingly large amount of things to offer visitors for a place of its humble size, is doing a great job at attracting new tourists. At its heart is Štore itself, the county town from which the region gets its name and a good example of a small industrial Slovenian town, although it’s the outlying destinations that are the real attractions. As well as a handful of purpose-designed walking trails that take in some of the best of the region’s scenery, the small mountain village of Svetina is quite possibly the best reason to visit. There’s also a few fascinating agricultural places to explore, including a charming vineyard and an equally interesting tourist farm. Surplus to the sights presented here, the municipality website at www.store.si lists several other local sensations worthy of further investigation.
SVETINA: The tiny village of Svetina at the foot of a small, densely wooded hill was first mentioned in written documents dating back to 1480. Situated 683m above sea level and twice voted Slovenia’s most beautiful mountain village, this sleepy backwater of a gem with a population of just over 100 villagers is an absolute must for those thinking about visiting the region. Reached along a narrow winding road and peppered with little religious shrines hiding in the hedgerows, Svetina’s top sight is without question its Catholic church. A good starting point for a healthy walk in the neighboring hills, Svetina’s laid-back atmosphere is helped along a little several times a year when the place comes alive thanks to several traditional festivals. The recommended Dom na Svetini (tel. +386 (0)41 60 84 23, FB: Dom na Svetini), a rustic restaurant on the outskirts of the village, offers a gourmet perspective on local dishes and a bed for the night for those who can’t get enough of the place.
CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS: This splendid example of local Gothic architecture dates from the 15th century. Easily spotted from a distance thanks to its high pointed steeple, the rich interior features several interesting things to see, not least the Baroque altar dating from around 1700. Nearby is the smaller Chapel of the Holy Cross, originally constructed in the late 15th century and dramatically altered some three centuries later after a fire destroyed much of the village. Visitors passing through the area in early August might like to drop by for the annual Šentoščeva Nedelja festival, which includes an impressive procession through the village and that attracts many pilgrims. The neighboring cemetery marks the final resting place of the well-known local writer and ethnologist Alma Karlin (1889-1950).
WALKING & HIKING: Combine nature and keeping fit when in the region by taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings and following the so-called Barbara’s Trail, a hiking route starting in Pečovje and ending up some 19km later in the settlement of Trobni Dol in the neighbouring municipality of Laško. Passing through several villages on the way, including the aforementioned Svetina where it takes in the Dom na Svetini restaurant (see above), Barbara’s Trail is relatively strenuous. For those seeking something a little less taxing on the legs and lungs, there’s a further eight specially designed walks of varying lengths for a more leisurely approach to hiking that do an equally good job at combining staying healthy and getting to know the region. All of the eight routes are well signposted, and a special brochure can be found inside the Municipality building in Štore (tel. +386 (0)31 36 78 89.
BUSER POTTERY: The good people at this fascinating traditional pottery in the settlement of Prožinska Vas have been producing ceramics for over 200 years. Tours of the workshops are available, plus there’s a gift shop and a small museum dedicated to the craft. Info: www.loncarstvobuser.com.
THE ŠTORE CUISINE TRAIL: The countryside around Štore is ideal for the growing and production of a number of food products, and several of the farms and vineyards producing them are open to the public. The Kmetija V Gaju tourist farm (tel. +386 (0)41 52 13 10) in the same village as the Lončarstvo Pottery (above) specializes in meat products and sells a range of delicious sausages, salamis and other mouth-watering temptations. To help wash it all down, the Vinogradništvo Glavač vineyards, also in Prožinska Vas, make a variety of wines from their own grapes. Don’t miss their 200-year-old wine cellar and tasting room.
ACCOMMODATION: For those looking to spend the night, we recommend Pri Starem Mlinu, a relaxing place offering spring drinking water and yoga in the forest, or the Artišek Farmhouse (Domačija Artišek) who have places where you can park camper vans and that also offer catering.