We used to live in a white block of flats in Tolmin with a rather socialist appearance. We lived on the 4th floor and had two balconies. My mum a journalist, my dad a doctor and two girls. One more a maverick than the other.

Katja would live for stories. As a journalist, she published them in the Delo newspaper for 30 years. My mum is still an encyclopaedia of stories that happened in Posočje; just ask her. The grey-haired fit gentleman with a mower on his shoulder is Bojan, my dad. He has been a doctor all his life – a pulmonologist, cardiologist and diabetologist. I also have a funky curly-haired sister. Ana is the best female chef in the world. But first, she graduated from diplomacy at the University of Trieste as a valedictorian. It was 2002. We still lived in the block of flats. My mum always yearned for a house, not a big one. The “hunt” led my parents to some ruins or, rather, the site of a former ski lodge that burnt down in Livek above Kobarid.

Nebesa sprouting up from a burnt site

We knew the place well. Dad used to teach me and my sister to ski here and in 1980s we would train skiing here. T-bars were made of wood. Poles were made of hazel rods. We would warm up at the Livek lodge by the fire and tea brewed by housekeeper Zalka.

Hence, the place was chosen. The idea to preserve the archetypal image of shepherds’ villages with Nebesa was brought up by Rok Klanjšček, then a young architect originally from Kobarid. Today, he is one of the most renowned Slovenian architects. The investment was at the time brave or even daring – innovative construction, use of steel frames, indigenous rock (Volče shale), larch, copper roofs and so on.

A daring and visionary decision

Nebesa took in the first guest for Christmas holidays in 2003. For 15 years, my parents managed the tourist village on their own and set an example for Slovenian tourism with their philosophy and beliefs. Simultaneously, Ana and her Hiša Franko grew on the gastronomic map of the world. She was shot to stardom by the Chef's Table on Netflix and became the World’s Best Female Chef of 2017. Hiša Franko is only 15 minutes away from Nebesa by car.

The Greek melos at Nebesa

In the same year, I faced a difficult decision with my family. Should I leave the safe haven of Ljubljana and my occupation as a journalist after 25 years and set off to the inheritance of Nebesa?

The determination of my husband Samo Kanellopulos led us to a new challenge. Hence, a Greek melos spread throughout Nebesa. Samo has Greek roots. His great grandfather escaped from the Peloponnese to Trieste as a stowaway on a ship when he was merely 16 and never went back. Samo is the one always promoting modernisation – hence, we fully renovated the interior of cottages in 2019, achieving energy efficiency and self-sufficiency with EU funds, while striving for zero carbon footprint.