What's an 'osmizza'? Short journey through the Karst
Trieste, North-East Italy. On the hills overlooking the sea, on the Karst upland, it can happen to find a bunch of twigs tied together hanging on road sign posts, fences and hedges. What does that mean? We are close to an osmizza. When I first arrived in Trieste few years ago, I had no clue about what an osmizza was. But when I first got there, I understood the excitement people were having while talking about them, telling me persuasively ‘oooh, you must go there!’. I like to define an osmizza as a farmhouse. Here, in a homey and warm atmosphere, farmers sell their home-made products, served on old, wooden, creaking tables. Everything is accompanied by a glass – or a jar – of powerful wine: Malvasia, Refosco, Terrano, Vitovska, just to mention some of them. Even in Italy, it’s something that we are really not used to, at least not in this particular locations. But it’s the joy of senses. Typical cold cuts (ham, bacon, ombolo, salame) and pickles, like dried tomatoes, cucumbers, and mouth-watering olives, are the main delicacies – it sounds like they are healthy, and probably they are not: but you can’t stop to pick them up, and in no time you’ll have to place another order. A lot of people start the banquet with a boiled egg, l'ovo duro. Look like it prevents to get drunk after the first two rounds. The price: usually, less than 5 euros (normally 3.50 – 4.50) for a liter of wine and 10 euros for a tray of mixed food – eggs, pickles, sausages and so on and so forth. With this, you can easily eat in two and be stuffed.
The term osmiza derives from the Slovenian ossem, which stays for 8: this was the number of days per year farmers were allowed to sell toll-free their products. This goes back to the Middle Age, as ascertained by several documents. Now, farmers can open their gates more often, but the opening is still ruled by the amount of wine produced and by how many osmize there are nearby, in order to avoid any kind of competition. As I already mentioned, they are indicated by the presence of a frasca, which is normally an ivy’ brunch. Going to these places is a very common leisure in all the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region, as well as in the Slovenian Karst, where osmize are also present. For bachelor’s and graduation parties this represents a must go, as they atmosphere is always friendly and familiar, and on top of this they are damn cheap. For a budget traveler, this would be the best experience, enjoying local food, with local people, with a stunning view on the Gulf of Triest. If you’re wandering around there, this is definitely something you do not want to miss.