Debeli Rtič Natural Monument – Slovenia’s Vineyards With a Beach
These photos were taken on Debeli rtič, or Punta Grossa to Italians, a cape located on the southwestern edge of a peninsula that juts out into the Adriatic in western Slovenia near the town of Ankaran.
Since 1991 Debeli rtič has been a protected Natural Monument that covers nearly 24 hectares (59 acres), 800 meters (2600ft) of coastline and some fairly high cliffs. To me, it’s a large vineyard with a beach.
Covering 67.25 hectares, the vineyards, owned by the nearby Vinakoper winery, stretch well beyond the boundaries of the protected monument. They’re dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up 40 percent of the vines with 27.55 hectares, with a smattering of six other varietals: Malvazija (19.43 ha) and Rumeni Muškat (7.52 ha) the whites and Merlot (6.66 ha), Syrah (2.40 ha), Cipro (1.92 ha) and Cabernet Franc (1.77 ha) the rest of the reds.
With the exception of a stray berry here and there, this year’s grapes have long since been picked, but the area still provides another early November bounty: a full palate of post-harvest autumn colors and scenes like these in what is among my most favorite kind of landscape.
The beach is actually at the bottom of the cliffs which, at the westernmost tip of the cape rise upwards to more than 21 meters (69 ft). Enjoy the views, but don’t step too close to the abyss. There’s no security fencing at most points along the edge where the surface is thin and soft. People have fallen.
Located just eight kilometers from Koper –about a 15-minute drive– and less than 20 from Trieste, the area is surprisingly quiet and rural. There are nice views over the northern Adriatic to the south towards Koper, the west towards Venice and to the north towards Trieste, underlying why the earliest outpost here dates back to at least Roman times –then and today known as Ancarano to Italians. But its name –and subsequent importance– became most associated with the medical and convalescence facility that came to evolve there.
During the Napoleonic Illyrian Provinces period, a military hospital was established here, one that evolved into a therapy center for officers of the Austro-Hungarian navy. It grew into a larger healthcare complex when a tuberculosis sanitarium and convalescence hospital for children was built just before the First World War. The America Red Cross helped renovate the facilities in the 1920s, a connection and relationship that remains, at least in part, with the present-day hotel, hostel and campground. Chief among its medical facilities is the Valdoltra Orthopedic Hospital.
The larger peninsula it sits on is referred to interchangeably as the Ankaran, Milje or Muggia peninsula, depending on which side of the border one lives on. Muggia is the Italian town on the northern side of the Peninsula facing Trieste; Milje is the Slovenian name for Muggia.
Me? I’ll just call it SVB: Slovenia’s Vineyard with a Beach.