12 Days of Slovenia & Trieste (Part 6): Of hydropaths and Titoism in Lake Bled, Slovenia.

Tito’s image in Sarajevo, 1987.

The overall history of Bled, Slovenia can be perused at In Your Pocket. It’s a tourist town in the countryside in the foothills of the Julian Alps …

 … with a charming church on an island in the lake that has been pictured on a thousand jigsaw puzzles.

Swiss hydropath Arnold Rikli spent 52 years in Bled, founding the Institute of ‘natural healing’, and perfecting a rehabilitation program of bathing, taking steam baths, walking, and eating vegetarian; which proved a hit. Indeed, Bled was later recognised as one of the most important tourist sites in the Austrian empire, receiving a gold medal in Vienna in 1903; having got its own train station at Lesce in 1870.

Of more recent topical interest, at least to me, is this specific historical footnote: Vila Bled, hidden pearl of President Tito’s, communist president of Yugoslavia.

The building was completed in 1947 and served as the summer residence of President Tito for many years, where he hosted numerous official state visits. Tito welcomed many eminent dignitaries to the villa, including Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev, King Hussein of Jordan, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter and Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Indonesian President Sukarno, President of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda, Emperor Akihito of Japan, Emperor of the Central African Empire Jean-Bédel Bokassa and even President of North Korea Kim Il Sung.

You can read about Josip Broz (Tito) at Wikipedia; in the meantime, I leave you with this indelible image of Soviet kingpin Leonid Brezhnev (left, with pistol) and Tito (right, seated) on a “hunt” in the Ukraine.