A year and a half since it was announced that a reality show was coming to the abandoned village of Slapnik, the producers announced they are looking into alternative locations in Italy and Spain.
Slapnik used to be an abandoned village that only locals knew about, set in the middle of Goriška Brda, one of the most scenic wine growing regions of Slovenia.
Then the village was spotted by a production group, Tempo, as an appropriate location for their Back to the Village reality show, in which 17 couples from 17 countries would compete at renovating a decaying house. The show was to be broadcast in 17 European countries and thereby promote the region to a broad international audience, while it would renovate and so revive the entire village of Slapnik.
All but one of the owners responded positively to Tempo’s offer to sell their falling down properties. Apparently an elderly woman living in Australia refused to sell her share of a collapsing house in the middle of the village, citing possible negative consequences this might have for her pension. The production company offered her an apartment in Nova Gorica instead. She wasn’t happy with that either, and demanded a two-bedroom apartment in Ljubljana, over five times the value originally offered to her in cash.
Apart from this, the producers have also been citing poor support of the community for the project and a slow bureaucratic process, preventing the project from moving forward.
Meanwhile, following the project’s announcement visitors started to flock into Slapnik. According to Franko Markočič, one of the owners who’d like to see the project moving forward, uncontrolled and high volume visitors damaged the privately owned gravel road that leads to the village, entered houses, and took anything they could carry away. The owners asked Brda municipality to help with the renovation of the road, but they were turned down.
Brda Mayor Franc Mužič rejected the suggestion that the local government refused to help with the road renovation, stating for Primorske novice that the villagers should get organised themselves and that the municipality would cover the expenses. He also rejected any hints that the municipality did not engage enough for the project to move forward.
But Mužič doesn’t sound particularly alarmed by Tempo’s threats to move the project somewhere else: “the municipality has not given up yet, […] we have other options as well, sooner or later the renovation will happen. […] Renovation of Slapnik could be incorporated into the Brda Spa project as an annex or an extension of the Spa, but that does not happen overnight.”