Grow and eat locally is the new trend spreading worldwide.  Puff up with pride of our green and eco outlook?

Take a look at some history. The reality is that this concept was embraced by Maria Therese of Austria over two hundred years ago, not out of goodwill or ecology but as a method of controlling the local farming community, food chain and population at large.

The Osmize ‘s history, from Maria Theresa to today

Maria Theresa allowed the local farmers to sell their own crops, livestock and edible crafts directly in the “Carso” area and Slovenija around 1784.  The Empress sought a method to reduce riots among the citizens after imposing harsh taxes by allowing the local food sale to be tax-free.  This highly political act led to the birth of “osmize”, goodwill or environmental benefit be damned.

osmize via thatsmoreitalia
A red branch (“la frasca”) that signes a Osmiza

The word “osmizza” comes from the Slovenian word “osmec” which refers to the number of days the venue could stay open and sale to buyers, 8 days or any multiple of 8 days, i.e. 16, 24, etc.   Every farmer or private home could stay open and sell products locally grown such as wine, meat, honey, fruits, and vegetables.   The imperial authority imposed just one condition, a clear sign over the venue making the temporary sale well known.   The selected sign was a “red branch”, “la frasca”, is the same sign that still hangs on the venues two centuries late.

“Osmizza” is one of the best kept local secrets of this “frontier” land.  With portions of the late Austro Hungarian Empire split after the First World War into different countries, the tradition of local farmers selling their products has remained vibrant and it is customary to reach on “osmizza” and sit for a glass of wine and some food any time of the day and just chat.  You will most likely need a local to introduce you to one of the temporary open osmizza and be prepared to enjoy a bottle of white Vitovska or strong red Terrano, a dish of “porcina” and the banter of “osmizza” regulars.

Osmiza in Carso, Northest Italy, via
Osmiza in Carso, northeast Italy, via

Make an Osmizza Adventure

You can devote a full day to discover the “osmizza” territory but I suggest pace yourself when trying the local wine in every “osmizza” so you can enjoy the amazing winding roads and breathtaking panoramic views along the way. You can even rent bikes and discover the land treasures while making some healthy exercise.

If you start from Trieste, just head northwest towards Aurisina and park your car in the local tourist information park office.  Let the wild beauty of the “Rilke trail” unwind before your eyes with the white cliffs over the Trieste Gulf, Mediterranean vegetation and solitary seagulls calling out to one another.  After reaching the Duino Castel, turn back and stop to one of the Aurisina osmize, a wonderful reward for your trekking adventure.
You can be sure one of the three “osmize” of Aurisina will be open and the local information office staff will be more than delighted to provide you with all the information.

Credits: Massimo Crivellari (POR FESR 2007-2013)
Credits: Massimo Crivellari, via POR FESR

Once you have enjoyed your first glass of local grown Vitovska white wine, you are ready to get back on road towards the Carsic plain and towards new enogastronomical experience.   Between Malcina, far north down to Prepotto, extreme south, going through Precenico and S. Pelagio, you will taste boiled eggs that are truly red, cheese flavored with wild fennel or savory, tender porcina (stewed pork shoulder) and glasses of robust Terrano or fruity Malvasia.

Stop in little villages, have something locally grown and do not forget to share the “local sense of place” when you drink: let the atmosphere wrap you and if you are lucky enough to stop in an “open air” osmizza, don’t forget to admire the panorama.   The best view of Trieste and its gulf is said to be the “natural” and exclusive benefit of Zidarich’s Osmizza in Prepotto.  Deep blue surrounded by dark green vegetation.

And if driving back to Trieste city center seem too burdensome, treat yourself to the little eco-friendly accommodation Alla Casetta.

Alas what we thought was a sign of our clever age of eco-friendly pursuits was started centuries ago with local farmers selling their produce in an informal way.  Make it a part of your journey or a regular adventure which every day is anew…..but you can still claim it is your eco-sensitivity that spurs you on.

Info: If you like to visit Osmize by bicycle, in Friuli there are 23 bike trails wait for your rides. One trail will bring you to “osmizze”, local venues open just some days every year where to taste local wine and delicatessen such as sausages and homemade bread. An offer you cannot miss!

A Osmiza, from the italian movie “Zoran my Nephew the Idiot”