The Local Community of Podlanišče: that valley has to be somewhere

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The Local Community of Podlanišče has less than 250 residents today. However, despite its small size this area was seen on television screens by the whole of Slovenia in recent decades. The Škofje hill is where the final scene of the legendary film Dolina miru (Eng. Valley of Peace) by France Štiglic was filmed. And even nowadays many hikers on the long-distance Via Alpina hiking trail, which goes also through the village of Podlanišče, look for – what else but – peace.

The Local Community of Podlanišče, which extends in the eastern part of the Cerkno region, is the next to last by number of residents among the local communities in the municipality. It is comprised of three villages: Podlanišče, Podpleče, and Cerkljanski Vrh, in which 248 people live, of these 146 in Podlanišče, 26 in Podpleče, and 76 in Cerkljanski Vrh. Since the first census in 1948, the number of residents has considerably decreased. Back then 429 residents lived in all the villages, 171 in Podlanišče, 65 in Podpleče, and 193 in Cerkljanski Vrh. Characteristic of this local community is the scatteredness of households, since there are no compact settlements with the exception of the small village of Kladje. A reason for this is probably the fact that farms that are typical of the Local Community of Podlanišče are relatively large by area.

Settlements from Roman times

Even though there are no historical sites, well-known to the public, in the area of the Local Community of Podlanišče, there are still some interesting things even here. In Podpleče, an outpost from Roman times is registered, but the excavations never took place. A Roman wall is said to have run through that area as well. The remains of Roman fortifications are visible on the summit of Šance. At the Pr Ratovžu farm in the village of Podlanišče, there is a stone table marked with the year 1797. Not far away, under the Škofje hill, which is a popular hiking destination due to its beautiful view of the Cerkno region and easy access, there used to be a copper mine. In 1851 the Škofje mining company was founded here in order to search for and extract copper ores. The mining activities were abandoned at the end of 1872 due to an economic crisis. The mine was revived by the Italians after the occupation and remained active until the end of 1950s. In 1966 the Geological Survey of Slovenia started a new tunnel, but determined that extracting the ore would not be economical.

A reminder of war horrors

In 1808, Mihael Peternel was born on the Na Lanišeh farm. He was a Slovene Roman-Catholic priest, a teacher, a natural scientist, a polymath, and an autodidact in polytechnic sciences. His works also demonstrate a remarkable care and passion for the Slovene language. There practically isn’t a discipline in the natural sciences of the time that he was not well versed in. He also cooperated with Dr. Franc Močnik, who was born in Cerkno. It was precisely at Močnik’s initiative that he was named the first headmaster of the newly established non-classical secondary school in Ljubljana, which only had three grades. He performed this job between the years 1852 and 1860.

There almost isn’t a place in the Cerkno region that does not remind us of the horrors of war and of those which took place after the war. On the Lajše hill in the village of Cerkljanski Vrh there is a chapel and a monument that reminds us of a crime that took place there. The reason for the killing of locals from Cerkno was the German attack on the communist party course in Cerkno on 27 January 1944. The Germans shot 44 students on that day. The partisan leaders laid the blame on religious locals, but these were innocent. A list of fifteen people was made, among which there were also both Cerkno chaplains Lado Piščanc and Ludvik Sluga. They were accused of treason, taken to the Lajše hill on 2 February in the evening, and then shot and thrown into a karstic chasm on the next day.

“Platters” (Slov. “Talerčki”) and Zaganjalka

Everyone from the Cerkno region who knows how to ski and goes to the ski resort on the Črni Vrh hill most likely knows the ski lift also known as “platters”. However, not everybody knows that this lift was first set up in the village of Cerkljanski Vrh, at the Pr Kacinu farm, where residents of the Cerkno region had fun on the snow for quite a few years.

Interesting hydrological natural heritage is represented by the Zaganjalka spring under the village of Cerkljanski Vrh in the Volkova grapa ravine near the Zakrog farm. This is an interesting karstic phenomenon, for which a change in water flow is characteristic. At regular flow it takes seven minutes before the water almost disappears and then gushes out of the depths again.

Dolina miru (Eng. Valley of Peace)

»This valley wasn’t the right one, Marko. Maybe that valley is the right one, Marko. That valley has to be somewhere.«

Lottie (Evelyne Wohlfeiler) in the film Valley of Peace, 1956

With these words and a view of the Cerkno region, where two tearful war orphans escape in search of a valley without war, the legendary film Dolina Miru (Eng. Valley of Peace) by France Štiglic comes to an end. The scene that leaves no one indifferent was shot in the mid-1950s at the 974 m high hill of Škofje in the Local Community of Podlanišče.

Dolina miru, a Yugoslavian war film from 1956, presents a touching story of a German girl Lottie (Evelyine Wohlfeiler) and a Slovene boy Marko (Tugo Štiglic) who are searching for a valley without war that the girl’s grandma talked about. Marko is certain that it is the place where he used to go on holidays to his uncle. The children are joined by an American pilot Jim (John Kitzmiller) on the way. But the “valley of peace” is attacked by Germans and Jim is killed. The children run away and continue their search for the promised valley.

The film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1957, where John Kitzmiller received the Best Actor Award for the role of Sergeant Jim.

The greatest struggle for cyclists

The most high-profile event, which takes place also in Podlanišče, is the annual Marathon Franja, the biggest mass event for recreational cyclists in Slovenia. The first marathon took place on 22 July 1982. Since then the most difficult part of the trail and the highest point has always been the Kladje pass (787 m). The Local Community of Podlanišče always helps organize a stand for the cyclists there.

An example of coexistence between man and nature

The right destination for all who swear by home-made cheese and dairy products is the Na Ravan farm in the village of Cerkljanski Vrh, where they are proud of their own cheese brand Očanc. This year they also received the Bevk prize from the Cerkno municipality. The business was devised by the already deceased Groegl couple and is being continued by Judita and Marjan Demšar with their many children, who take care of successfully promoting environmentally sustainable food from the Cerkno region. The family and its business are a vital example of coexistence between man and nature.

They want new rooms

In the Local Community of Podlanišče the locals constructed a building at the Kladje pass in 1934, which served as a dairy and then later also as a school. There is still a milk collecting facility in this building and also the rooms of the local community. Later, another building was constructed at Kladje, where a dairy and a shop used to be, but it is empty today.

In the last year, recycling bin areas were set up in all the villages of the local community. With the help of volunteer firefighters from the VFD Planina – Čeplez all the culverts were cleaned. Currently, the maintenance of gravel roads is underway. The local community has been intensively making efforts in recent years to build a new space for the local community since the current rooms are in very bad condition. All those in the area who are still engaged in milk production also need a better facility, since they need a proper dairy to collect the milk.