Along the Sutla river from Klanjec northwards we have visited three distinctive localities that are famous for its history, culture, and gastronomy. We went to Kumrovec, Zagorska sela, and Desinić. This is the region rich with castles and manors, vineyards and agritourisms, famous persons and cultural heritage.
Outside ex-Yugoslavia you might not have heard for Kumrovec, but you surely did for his greatest son. In this small village on the banks of Sutla river Marshall Josip Broz Tito, president-for-life in former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia was born. His character and historical mission are undisputable, although his heritage is still contested. As many other dictators and authoritarian rulers, his birthplace was a scene of personality cult and was transformed in a beautiful village-museum with a particular insight into the life of Zagorje peasants in turn of the century.
We were accompanied by Mr Milan Kladnički, director of Tourist Board of Kumrovec, Zagorska sela and Desinić “Po plavem trnaci” (Through blue orchards) who took us on a tour of the village museum “Old Village”. The museum is made with help of Ethnographic museum in Zagreb and the central object was the grand house where Tito was born. In front of it Antun Augustinčić made the famous statue of Tito.
The ethno place is the biggest traditionally arranged space in Croatia and consists of some forty refurbished houses where people can see how village folk lived in the beginning of 20th century. Standing exhibition shows everyday life and habits of peasants and their families but also shows various traditional crafts. Cultivated gardens, stalls, and animal housings are also visible. Guests can enjoy old school, Tito’s house and his family’s estate, smithy, wheelwright place, cultivation of hemp and flax, wedding celebration, cooking, gingerbread making, toys, pottery, barrels and baskets.
Nearby is the Well of Happiness, a project from 1988 in which a well was built and whose floor is made of stone mosaics made by children from all the regions of ex-Yugoslavia. From the village easily visible is the Razvor Manor, a splendid example of manor building in the baroque period. It was property of noble family Erdödy. On the main magisterial way there is also Kumrovec’s main chapel of Saint Roch. Hopefully, Kumrovec will soon have more accommodation facilities and put forward more accents on traditional and historical tourism.
Mr. Kladnički took us also to the inn “Kod Starog” (At Old Man), opposite the birth house of Marshall Tito who was usually called Old Man among the people. This is traditional inn existing already 120 years and is famous for štrukli. In our time there, we met also a grower of protected Zagorje turkey (zagorski puran), who told us more about their upbringing. agorje turkey came to these parts way back in the early 16th century, as a gift from an Italian bishop. The average weight of the male gobbler is 6 kg, while the females reach 4 kg. Most often you’ll see a female served on for holidays, not older than eight months. This is actually the only native breed of turkey in Croatia, and since 2000 it’s been on the World Watch List for domestic animal diversity. This all sounds nice, but it’s not so easy to lay your hands on an original Zagorje turkey, because there are still not so many of them on the market. “Zagorski puran” is now a protected brand, and behind it is an agricultural cooperative called Puran zagorskih brega, uniting a dozen or more farmers devoted to raising this special breed of turkey. As the geographical origin of the breed is protected at the national level, the standards are strict and it can only be raised in Krapina-Zagorje County and Varaždin County.