Go! Borderless: Nova Gorica and Gorizia European Capital of Culture 2025

It’s going to be on everyone’s lips. “Go! Borderless: Nova Gorica and Gorizia European Capital of Culture 2025”. Capital, not capitals. An inconceivable project thirty years ago, after the break-up of Yugoslavia prompted the Belgrade government to send tanks to the border, tricking the soldiers with the threat of a phantom attack from the West. As soon as the truth came out, they defected.

The Cold War was palpable here: since 1947, fences and border guards had been put in place to divide territories that had been linked for centuries – our very own Berlin Wall in what the Viennese called the “Austrian Nice” because of its balmy climate, proximity to the sea and excellent wines. And then in 2004, Slovenia’s accession to the European Union and three years later, with Schengen, the beginning of a slow rapprochement between the two once warring sides.

You have to visit Gorizia at a leisurely pace. A perfectly preserved historic center, architectural jewels designed by the likes of the local Nicolò Pacassi (Schönbrunn in Vienna is his masterpiece) and Max Fabiani. Pacassi’s Palazzo Attems-Petzenstein, which houses the Pinacoteca, is packed with fascinating artworks, from Giuseppe Tominz’s Biedermeier portraits to Tullio Crali’s thrilling Futurist fireworks. Then there is the monastery of Castagnevizza, with the tombs of the last Bourbon to rule France, Charles X, and his descendants. Yes, Gorizia should be visited at a leisurely pace: sipping a glass of wine, a Collio, a Carso, an Isonzo, a Schioppettino, not dwelling too much on history, on wars, but on the future, on Europe!

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