On our way to Strane, when reaching the amazing home made road sign shown above, we had to chose between Šmihel and Strane.
Once in Strane, once we had seen the yew tree, we decided to drive directly to Predjama using very small roads. Some of them were only gravel roads across the forest. That was the third leg of a triangle. After 3 kilometers, we reached Šmihel pod Nanosom, also named Sent Mihelj or San Michele in Italian. Šmihel is a village of 171 inhabitants on the eastern slopes of Mount Nanos, in the Postojna Municipality.
As we left Šmihel on our way to Predjama, my attention was caught by an amazing monument. At first I did not know it’s meaning but once at home I searched hard and finally found a page that told the story, a local legend, but unfortunately, it was only in Slovenian. With the help of paper and on line dictionaries, I understood the main lines of the story. Even if you do not understand Slovenian, look at the page of the village of Šmihel as it has nice drawings on the story.
Here is the legend, as far as I have understood it. Thank you for anybody that might correct me if I am wrong:
Once upon a time lived in the caves of Postojna a terrible dragon. The peasants had to feed him with plenty of muttons and veals. They wanted to get reed of it but could not find how to do it. They asked a young shepherd named Jakob that was renown for its cleverness. Though reluctant, he accepted to do the job for the good of his people. He stuffed a veal with quicklime, put it into his bag and managed that the dragon ate it. After eating, the dragon was thirsty. When he drank, water turned quicklime into slaked lime, producing a terrible heat that killed him.
The monument shows Jakob when he handles the veal to the dragon. The dragon is made of copper sheets, the veal and Jakob’s bag of aluminum sheets and Jakob of iron sheets. Each metal have been let weathering, which gives natural colors to the monument.
This is another amazing sight in the Strane-Šmihel neighborhood. We came here for the yew tree but finally were granted several unusual sights!
The yew tree (Taxus baccata), following the local tradition, not documented, says that it was planted around AD 350 which is close to the birth date of the patron saint of the church. Even if the tree is not that old, it is very old. The diameter of the trunk is 122 cm, it’s circumference 384 cm and it’s height 12 meters.
Photo 1 shows the tree
Photo 2 shows the tree and the church in the background
Photo 3 shows that our old tree has a little brother. I have no clue of how old it is but it is not a young one. My wild bet would be several centuries.
Photo 4 shows the sign that gives the dimensions of the tree and other informations.
Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius was born circa 345 in Strido now named Zrenj in Croatian or Stridone in Italian, a small town of the karst region, near Buzet, now in Croatia, close to the Slovenian border. He is better known as Eusebius Hieronymus Stridonensis, and after his death, as Sveti Hieronim (Saint Jerome). His name is strongly linked with the karst region and he is sometimes named Sveti Hieronim, mož s Krasa (St. Jerome, the man from the Karst). St. Jerome is widely celebrated in the karst region, Slovenia and Croatia and the church of Strane is dedicated to him.
More on St. Jerome on Istrianet.
Not long ago, a cock foraging with it’s hens around the farms was a common sight in the country. Now, it is an object of wonder, reminding the good old days! For city grown kids, this is even a strange as a wolf or an eagle.
I felt that this rooster was especially glorious and though not as old as the yew tree (!) under which it foraged, was certainly several years old, given the shape and size of its paws. That would certainly make a yummy “Coq au vin”!
These are plain sunflowers growing along St. Jerome's church but I had never seen such huge flowers! I measured them and the largest had a diameter of 34 cm.
Strane is actually a strange place with such a large (and old) yew tree and such large sunflowers on such short plants, less than 50 cm tall!