Milan and his castle (Castle Socerb, Slovenia)

Socerb. Photo by Andreja Lajh

The castle of Socerb, which is situated in Slovenia, close to Koper (Capodistria) and Trieste, is a small castle. Very small. But great because of it’s beauty, because of the views it offers and because of Milan who is taking care of this wonderful monument and the restaurant which is situated in it already for many many years. Socerb was built over a large rock, this middle ages castle has an amazing sightseeing around the Trieste gulf and the valleys of Istria.

Socerb. Photo by Andreja Lajh

A little away from it is the holy cave, the upper part of which is the only underground sanctuary visited by pilgrims. Socerb castle represents the unique standing fortification situated on the natural cliffs, which was once a political border between the Venetian Republic and Habsburg Monarchy. It had an important strategic and political function during medieval period. The castle formed part of the Venetian domain for only half a century. Mostly, it belonged to Austria and its margraves who, whilst living in the castle, substantially increased their power. For this reason, the castle represented an important military fort with permanently resident troops. It controlled a major trading route leading from the sea to the inland territories. Nowadays, the castle become as a state owned property of national importance.

Milan Graj. Socerb. Photo by Andreja Lajh

The heart and soul of the Socerb castle is Milan Graj, who takes care of the monument and the restaurant which offers to the visitors very honest food prepared by high quality ingredients, but most of all with all the love and care of Milan and his stuff.

Milan is a very special person. I have met him for the first time about 18 years ago when visiting as student my friend from Socerb. Milan was like an idol for him – he was always an extremely warm and kind person, very sensible and loving, easy going and yet somebody you can count on. In all this years Milan didn’t change a bit. He is still the same wonderful person and he still cares with all his love and passion for the piece of earth that he loves and for the people who visit him.

Milan’s passions are also wines and in his private wine cellar he’s hiding some really stunning bottles…

The restaurant is small, intimate. There is only one room for the guests. They can accept a group of max. 30 persons or separate guests.

Socerb. Photo by Andreja Lajh

The food is based on excellent fresh ingredients. We are not talking about Michelin star restaurant or the best cuisine in the country. But I can guarantee that the raw materials are always fresh and of the best quality and that it is a very special place, not just because of the stunning views but also because of all the passion and care that Milan puts in every detail and because his wonderful human touch. You will appreciate the honesty of the food but most of all you will leave the place happy and touched.

Socerb. Photo by Andreja Lajh

Not only wines, also olive oils are Milan’s passion.

Socerb. Photo by Andreja Lajh

Fresh fish is always on menu (sea is just a few meters away), and always there is some surprise hidden somewhere. On the picture above there is seabass in the first layer on a glass plate, bellow it, on another glass plate instead is waiting the tuna carpaccio.

Also truffles are typical for Istria, so you will find for sure at least one plate with them if you visit Socerb in the truffles season.

Socerb. Photo by Andreja Lajh

Milan likes to offer also some sweet surprise. For example a home made ice-cream.

Socerb. Photo by Andreja Lajh

Go to Socerb sometimes. Enjoy a wonderful walk around the village, visit the cave, and then enjoy the wonderful view from the castle and let yourself spoil by Milan, his plates and his attention. I’m sure you will spend some wonderful hours in his company like we did. There are emotions which are worth more then Michelin stars. And those are created by wonderful personalities like Milan’s. Say hello in my name when you visit him. I’ll be back too. Milan, thank you for everything. It’s wonderful to know you.

Photos by Andreja Lajh/Carpe Diem Club


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