Nova Gorica

Gorizia and the Isonzo Front: A town (and a continent) divided

The most scenic and historical way to ease into Slovenia is to catch a train from the bisected border town of Gorizia (Italy)/Nova Gorica (Slovenia), which was actually divided right down the middle by the Iron Curtain until 1974—in fact, the border sliced right through some people’s houses.

After three decades of dealing with folks who complained that their bedrooms were in Italy but their front doors opened into Yugoslavia, the national boundary was moved to the edge of town so that only the eastern suburbs fell into Slovenia.

These days, with Slovenia a full-fledged member of the European Union (they use the Euro and everything), you can stroll across the border at will—but the two countries' train lines have yet to link up. You must take a taxi across town from the Italian rail station to the Slovenian one to continue your trip.

The Transalpina train & the Isonzo Front

The 99-year-old Transalpina rail line travels from Nova Gorica up the gorgeous Soča River valley.

The river’s beauty—waters tinged emerald by calcium carbonate from the surrounding limestone mountains topped with gleaming churches—belies its bloody role in World War I, when more than 1,760,000 soldiers died over three years without either side advancing.

If that sounds familiar to Hemingway fans, it’s because Papa set “A Farewell to Arms” here—though he used the Italian name for the river and called it the Isonzo Front.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in December 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.