The Osmize of the Karst: all the colours of tradition

Follow the busch branch with the red arrow to discover cold cuts, cheeses and home-made wine

The Osmiza is a sort of tradition in our territory, so I’ll tell you a little about their history (I’ll promise not to take too long and get right back to the food).

On the Karst, which is divided between Italy and Slovenia the osmizza (also called osmiza; osmica in Slovenian) is a place where you can buy or stay and eat local wines and products, like ham, salami, cheeses and eggs. You eat directly in the basement or the main rooms of the farm.

Osmize are all around the province of Trieste and there are even a few in Slovenia, in the valley of Vipacco, in Slovenian Istria (in the commons of Capodistria and Isola), in Austria (remember when I went to Styria and told you about the osmizze? Here’s the article) and in other areas of the ex-Hapsburg Empire.

The Origin of the Osmiza dates back to 1784, when the Emperor Joseph II of Hapsburg issued a decree with which he allowed the farmers of the Karst to sell the extra products from their farms directly to the public, for eight days a year. The name comes from the Slovenian osem, which means eight, referring to the days they were allowed to stay open to the public.

Since then farmers of Trieste’s Karst keep their basements open to direct customers. The days aren’t restricted to eight a year anymore, but the period of opening is decided by the owner according to the quantity of wine they produced. The open osmiza is signalled like it used to be once, by hanging the “frasca” at the crossroads along the main roads and close by the locations and a red arrow to show the way.

The osmize are welcoming rustic environments, with simple long wooden tables and benches immersed in the green vineyards.

The wines they offer are from the local territory, like Terrano, Vitovska or Malvasia, while the food that is offered to accompany the wine is: hard boiled eggs to eat with salt and pepper, ham, salami, pork loin, smoked bacon and olives.

The cold cuts are served on plastic or paper trays and, even if it might look a little shabby, the meat is always well cut in nice thin slices. The salami is cut in slightly thicker slices so that it can be tasted nicely with home-made bread.

The opening period of every osmiza is different from year to year, and it’s difficult to find them always open.

I suggest you take a look at the website that keeps in contact with the owners so it’s always up to date.

There is even a photograph book “Osmize illustrate; Trieste e il Carso di frasca in frasca”. It’s a book written by two women, Alessandra Cossi and Elisabetta Bonino, that I had the pleasure to meet in person, and you can find their book on sale on Amazon. In the first edition of the publication they presented 101 osmize, all the ones that were open between the summer of 2013 and 2014. In the recent edition of 2016-2017, they added more recent osmize and there is also 40 pages about Slovenian osmize, from Brda to Coast. I suggest the book because it’s not really a guide book, more of a collection of suggestions for you Karst itineraries.

Skerk - Prepotto
Skerk – Prepotto

I believe osmize are unique and wonderful places, perfect to spend a Sunday in the fresh air of the Karst, tasting these local products and surrounded by people of every age: families with small children, groups of teenagers with a guitar or elderly people with a flat cap that play cards on the classic red and white tablecloth, always a little stained with red wine… and sometimes you’ll even meet nicely dressed young girls cheating on their strict diet with a slice of smoked bacon and red wine.

Skerk - Prepotto
Skerk – Prepotto

Of the osmize that I appreciate most there is Benjamin Zidarich’s, because the quality of the wine and cheese is so well known, and they open their doors above their wine cellar in Prepotto. And then there’s also Skerk, always in Prepotto!

Another place I like very much and that has an incredible view on Trieste is Eda Coslovich’s osmiza, in via Commerciale 180, known by many as “the 180”. And for another location with an unbeatable view I suggest the osmiza of Dean Verginella in Contovello.

Zidarich - Prepotto
Zidarich – Prepotto
Osmiza Coslovich - via commerciale 180 -
Osmiza Coslovich – via commerciale 180 –
Zidarich - Prepotto
Zidarich – Prepotto

But my favourite over all is the osmiza of Ivan Coretti, in strada per Longera; (Opening from 2 to 12 March 2017). I particularly like how they present their plates, with perfectly cut meat set out to look almost like flower petals, accompanied by horse radish and chutneys that are perfect for the cheeses!

Coretti - Longera
Coretti – Longera

Now that I’ve told you about the osmize and which ones are my favourite, I’m curious to know if you have ever tried the adventure of an osmiza and which ones are your favourite!


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