But what is an osmiza? Basically, it's about putting a few wooden tables and chairs simply in the courtyard, or backyard, or garden of a farmer's/winemaker's house or farm – sometimes it can be also set in a vineyard. Winemakers and farmers open their cellars and houses to the public for a short time during the year, and sell their wines and delicacies to everyone who comes, and sits to enjoy their wonderful local wines and treats in a very frugal and familiar environment.
An imperial beginning
A typical tradition of the Carso area around Trieste, its origin is rooted in a 1784 imperial decree. At the time, these lands were under the Austrian rule of the Habsburg Empire: the then Emperor Joseph II, Empress Maria Theresa's eldest son (and Marie Antoinette's brother), issued a decree allowing Carso farmers to sell, directly at their houses, surplus products deriving from their work being it agriculture, cattle breeding or viticulture. The term “osmiza” actually comes from the Slovenian word for eight, “osem” (whence “osmica” in Slovenian) because the sale permission would last no more than eight days in a row, and these 8-days openings could then be repeated a few times in a year. They also had to put out a specific road sign with branches (“frasche”) to let people know they were open, but they have been replaced recently with most ordinary ones.
How to spot an osmiza
Nowadays producers are free to open their cellars and farms for as many days as they want. But of course, with osmize not being actual shops nor restaurants (though some are very well organized), opening times may vary throughout the year, depending on the owner's seasonal production or availability. So it's important to keep oneself updated through the very useful www.osmize.com, the official site recommending Trieste's osmize. It reports which ones are open and where, the opening hours and periods, and also provides phone numbers and – most of all – GPS coordinates: this detail is very important, because often osmize are located in remote places and are not easy to find for non-locals. In fact it's always better to call and check beforehand if an osmiza is actually open, and ask the owner how to get there.
If you want to learn more about it, there's a handy guide written by Elisabetta Bonino and Alessandra Cossu, “Osmize Illustrate“ (published by Lint Editoriale), which has been updated and includes more than 100 osmize, mentioning also the Slovenian counterparts. And don't worry, most osmize are open also in wintertime...
Cover photo taken from the website www.larrycette.com
Local products photo taken from the Facebook page @Osmiza