Osmizas: the Best Local Restaurants Where to Eat in Trieste
If you’re looking for an authentic experience while visiting Trieste or its surroundings, why not try out an osmiza?
These unique dining options can be found in private homes or farms and offer a chance to try out typical products, generally cold foods washed down with locally produced wine.
They are simple, informal, family-run places where to eat in Trieste (and nearby).
Over time they have become a beloved tradition and represent one of the most popular forms of sociality in Trieste and on the Karst plateau.
Honestly, however, they are not exclusive to this province, but you can also find them in other areas of our region (Friuli Venezia Giulia) just with another name.
In our zone, for example, we call them frasca, while in the lower Friuli they are called privata.
Table of Contents
- Osmizas, the history
- The meaning
- The regulation
- How to reach an Osmiza by yourself
- Where to Eat in Trieste
- Eating local food in Osmizas
- Osmizas in Slovenia
- Suggested readings
Osmizas, the history
Osmizas have a rich history that dates back to the time of Charlemagne, when Tergeste – the old name of Trieste – and the Istrian peninsula were part of the Frankish Kingdom.
The tradition of producing and selling their own wine continued to evolve and was further shaped by a decree from Emperor Joseph II of Habsburg in 1784.
This decree granted peasants the opportunity to sell their own bulk wine for a short period of eight days, allowing for the growth and popularity of osmizas as we know them today.
In Slovenian language osmiza is spelled osmica and its etymology derives from the word osem, which means eight, as the opening days that were granted by the legislative provision just mentioned above.
To fully appreciate the culture and soul of osmizas, it’s essential to understand their regulations, which are managed by municipal resolutions.
Here are some interesting insights to keep in mind:
- Only wines produced on the karst territory from the grapes owned, rented or sharecropped by vendors can be sold;
- the sales period is related to the quantity of wine produced. For example, it is generally allowed one opening day for every 40 or 50 liters declared;
- Osmiza owners have the right to divide the opening days throughout the year, with a minimum consecutive period of eight days up to a maximum of one month. If the production exceeds a certain limit, it is possible to obtain an extension on the opening days;
- for each village only one osmiza can be open in the same period;
- wine must be sold on the premises of the winemaker;
- in addition to the sale, the wine can be tasted on site, accompanied as per local tradition with bread, boiled eggs, pickled vegetables, cheeses and cold cuts of the karst territory. This provides an authentic and immersive experience for visitors;
- the sale of cold cuts is subject to the owner having reared the pigs for at least 90 days;
- with at least one pig slaughtered, ten days of opening are granted;
- the distinctive sign of the osmize is a bunch of ivy called frasca. Moreover, from the twilight of dusk until the closing time, a light must be turned on at the entrance door.
Obviously, the regulations contain also other administrative articles, as well as precise specifications to be used to settle particular cases, covering extensions and non-agreements.
How to reach an Osmiza by yourself
The surroundings of Trieste offer many interesting places to visit, such as the majestic Miramare Castle overlooking the sea, the charming coastal town of Muggia, the picturesque cities of Capodistria and Pirano, the vast Gigante Grotto and the scenic Rosandra Valley for hiking enthusiasts.
Having a car is the perfect way to explore these attractions and then cap off the day by reaching one of the remote osmizas scattered throughout the Karst plateau.
Therefore, if you plan to visit Trieste and its surroundings, we highly recommend renting a car to fully experience everything this beautiful region has to offer.
When needed, we always rely on DiscoverCars, a price comparison website between various companies, easily consultable online.
For us, it’s a guarantee.
Where to Eat in Trieste – Open osmizas today
As you can imagine, it is not easy to disentangle yourself between the different locations and knowing which of them are open right now.
A reliable source, which we always consult before going there, is the Osmize.com portal.
The osmizas calendar is updated daily, also during weekends and holidays.
We really recommend you to check it, as this website can help you choose the best osmiza among those available while saving time and avoiding disappointment by ensuring that you are actually going to an open osmiza.
Eating local food in osmizas – Our Experience
When we go to explore the surroundings of Trieste and Slovenian Istria a stop in an osmiza has become a tradition.
We really enjoy conversing with the locals, discovering their customs and habits.
Wandering around the small villages scattered on the Karst is a unique experience.
They are connected to each other by narrow valley streets flanked by the typical dry-stone walls.
The environmental context is stunning, with woods of medium-stemmed trees and shrubs that show beautiful chromatic shades with bright colors during autumn.
During the summer, the tasting of wine and dishes takes place outdoors, in the courtyards of the houses.
Patrons sit on wooden benches and the tables are sometimes covered with plastic tablecloths.
The courtyards are generally surrounded by old stone buildings, with ancient wells in their center for water collection.
Stone and water are two of the natural elements typical of this rugged land that is the Karst.
Some osmizas, in particular those located just outside the capital city of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, have splendid panoramic views of the coast and the Gulf of Trieste.
Living an experience in osmiza means carving out a few hours of carefree and cheerfulness to be spent in company in a family atmosphere.
In the usually shared tables, it is possible to meet people of all ages, from the elderly who play cards to families with small children.
In this strip of land of our region the wines of the DOC Carso are produced.
Among the native red grape varieties the one we prefer is Refosco, from which the ruby colored Teran wine comes from.
Among the whites, instead, we love Vitovska and Istrian Malvasia, rich in scents and aromas.
The cold cuts are served in wooden cutting boards: ham, salami, ombolo, ossocollo and bacon, all accompanied with homemade bread and grated horseradish.
For those unfamiliar, grated horseradish is a perennial herbaceous plant commonly used to season certain dishes or to create sauces.
Cheese is often served in wedges alongside jars of locally made honey and homemade jams, providing a perfect balance of savory and sweet flavors.
Osmizas in Slovenia
Osmizas are not a prerogative of Trieste and its surroundings but in the near Slovenia there are many too.
These places are mainly concentrated in neighboring areas such as the Vipava Valley, kras (Karst) and Slovenian Istria.
If you’re interested in delving deeper into the world of osmizas and fully appreciating what they have to offer, we recommend checking out the book Osmize illustrate; Trieste e il Carso di frasca in frasca (by Alessandra Cossu and Elisabetta Bonino).
Unfortunately, only the Italian version is available at the moment.
In this book, the authors share stories and testimonies they collected during their visits to various osmizas.
The first edition of the book was published in 2013, and since then, additional editions have been released to include newly opened osmizas, as well as a new chapter dedicated to those located in Slovenian territory.