The First La­dy’s Hometown

Le vil­lage slo­vène de Sev­ni­ca ca­pi­ta­lise sur l’image de Me­la­nia Trump.

Vocable (Anglais) - - Édito Sommaire - PA­TRICK KINGSLEY

SEV­NI­CA, Slovenia — Me­la­nia cake. Me­la­nia cream. Me­la­nia wine. Me­la­nia tea. Me­la­nia slip­pers. Me­la­nia sa­la­mi. Me­la­nia cho­co­late-coa­ted apple slices. There are few pro­ducts that the en­ter­pri­sing bur­ghers of Sev­ni­ca, a small, ru­ral Slo­ve­nian town where Me­la­nia Trump spent her for­ma­tive years, have not sought to brand in ho­nor of the first la­dy of the Uni­ted States.

2. Co­py­right res­tric­tions mean that most of the items me­re­ly al­lude to her iden­ti­ty: The wine is cal­led “First La­dy,” while the slip­pers (a sil­ve­ry num­ber gar­ni­shed with a fluf­fy white rab­bit’s tail) are cal­led “White House.” But le­gal ker­fuffles aside, Trump has been good for Sev­ni­ca (pro­noun­ced SEH-oo-neet­sa) 1. slip­per chaus­son, pan­toufle / -coa­ted ici, nap­pé de / slice tranche, ron­delle / bur­gher ci­toyen, ha­bi­tant / to spend, spent, spent pas­ser (temps) / for­ma­tive years ici, jeu­nesse / to seek, sought, sought to cher­cher à / to brand ici, ap­pe­ler. 2. item pro­duit, ar­ticle / me­re­ly ne faire que / to al­lude to faire al­lu­sion à, évo­quer / while tan­dis que / sil­ve­ry ar­gen­té / num­ber ici, ar­ticle / to gar­nish dé­co­rer, or­ner / fluf­fy pe­lu­cheux / tail queue / ker­fuffle ici, scan­dale / aside mis à part / — a town of around 5,000 that sits in a fo­rest-li­ned ri­ver val­ley some 90 mi­nutes by car from Lju­bl­ja­na, the ca­pi­tal of Slovenia.


3. The town’s on­ly ho­tel reo­pe­ned ear­lier this year. The an­nual tou­rist traf­fic — hel­ped, of course, by Me­la­nia-the­med tours — has ri­sen by 15 percent, to 20,000 vi­si­tors, in the three years since Trump’s hus­band, then a real es­tate mo­gul and a star of rea­li­ty te­le­vi­sion, became a front-run­ner for the pre­si­den­cy. “Af­ter Me­la­nia, things real­ly chan­ged,” said Sre­cko Oc­virk, the town’s mayor. “Now we have tou­rists from all over the world.”

4. At Ko­pi­tar­na, the shoe com­pa­ny that makes the Me­la­nia-the­med slip­pers, staff mem­bers sa­lu­ted Trump for put­ting Slovenia on the map. “Ma­ny other people,” said Ma­ri­ja Ba­linc, an ex­port ma­na­ger, “thought we were cal­led Slo­va­kia.” 5. But press a lit­tle har­der, and there are si­gns the no­vel­ty is wea­ring thin, even for people like Li­di­ja Ogo­revc, one of the lo­cal guides who oc­ca­sio­nal­ly takes tou­rists on a tour of the town’s Me­la­nia-re­la­ted sites for about $35 a head. “Yes, that is the Me­la­nia wine,” Ogo­revc si­ghed on a recent tour, as she bree­zed past a bot­tle of First La­dy on sale at the town’s 12th-cen­tu­ry castle. “But this,” she ad­ded, poin­ting to a near­by bot­tle of Gra­js­ka Kri, a Blau­frän­kisch red, “this is the top wine.”


6. These days, Ogo­revc does not hide her in­dif­fe­rence to all the com­mo­tion over Me­la­nia. “For me, I real­ly don’t real­ly care about these things,” Ogo­revc said, not see­ming to mind how this might sound on a Me­la­nia tour. “Sev­ni­ca has much more to show than just this sto­ry.”

7. For Ogo­revc, the glo­ry of Sev­ni­ca is its castle, on a near­by hill with drea­my views of the Sa­va ri­ver be­low. “Can you ima­gine what it’s like in sum­mer?” she said, ga­zing across the val­ley from the doors of the castle. “Wow, real­ly nice!” Her mood dar­ke­ned as we drove back down in­to Sev­ni­ca, and par­ked out­side a com­mu­nist-era to­wer on the edge of town. “Now we are ma­king a stop at the apart­ment block where they li­ved,” she said, re­fer­ring to the fu­ture first la­dy, then na­med Me­la­ni­ja Knavs, and her fa­mi­ly. Then she ges­tu­red va­gue­ly at the buil­ding, and shrug­ged. “But I can’t tell you exact­ly where they li­ved be­cause I don’t have that in­for­ma­tion,” she said, a lit­tle ir­ri­ta­bly.

8. Over in the town’s tou­rist of­fice, vi­si­tors can buy a book about Trump’s ear­ly life — Me­la­nia Trump: The Slo­ve­nian Side of the Sto­ry — and a wide range of First La­dy pro­ducts, in­clu­ding the cho­co­late-coa­ted apple slices. But the head

7. hill col­line / drea­my fan­tas­tique, mer­veilleux / be­low en contre­bas / what it's like ici, la vue / to gaze re­gar­der, contem­pler / across ici, de l'autre cô­té de / mood hu­meur / to dar­ken s’as­som­brir; ici, se dé­té­rio­rer / edge ici, abords, ban­lieue / apart­ment block im­meuble / to shrug haus­ser les épaules. 8. side cô­té; ici, ver­sion / wide large / range gamme / head res­pon­sable / of the lo­cal tou­rist board, Mo­j­ca Per­nov­sek, would agree to an in­ter­view on­ly if the sub­ject of Me­la­nia was left un­tou­ched.

9. There is so much else to talk about, Per­nov­sek said. The val­ley the vil­lage sits in. The hi­king. The wood-chop­ping. The men-on­ly sa­la­mi fes­ti­val. The wine fes­ti­val (for all gen­ders). The fi­shing and beer fes­ti­vals. And, of course, the castle. But, Per­nov­sek said, “I don’t want to talk about politics.” Un­til 2016, when Trump rose to glo­bal pro­mi­nence, there would have been lit­tle rea­son to ask. Sev­ni­ca was then bet­ter-known as a mi­nor in­dus­trial hub, hou­sing Ko­pi­tar­na, one of Slovenia’s ol­dest shoe com­pa­nies; Stilles, a fur­ni­ture com­pa­ny that sup­plies international ho­tels; and Slovenia’s lar­gest lin­ge­rie com­pa­ny, Lis­ca.

10. When Trump was a child, her mo­ther, Ama­li­ja, wor­ked at ano­ther clo­thing fac­to­ry, which has since clo­sed. Her fa­ther Vik­tor is re­por­ted to have sold car parts. Few re­si­dents re­mem­ber them from that time — not even Oc­virk, the mayor, who is just a year ol­der than Trump, and would have at­ten­ded the lo­cal ele­men­ta­ry school at the same time. Trump left Sev­ni­ca about 30 years ago, first to stu­dy in Lju­bl­ja­na in the late 1980s, and then a few years la­ter to work in the Uni­ted States.


11. For some of the town’s youn­ger ge­ne­ra­tion, born af­ter Trump left, the as­so­cia­tion is still ex­ci­ting. “I don’t know her as a per­son, I am just ve­ry proud that she’s from my town,” said Ma­ja Ko­zole Po­pa­dic, a cafe ow­ner who sells a Me­la­nia-the­med apple pie. “For so­meone from this small town to be­come first la­dy of the Uni­ted States is such

a big thing for us.”

12. But Trump has not made a pu­blic re­turn to Sev­ni­ca, or Slovenia, since be­co­ming first la­dy, and for most the connec­tion re­mains pri­ma­ri­ly a com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ty. At the Ron­do res­tau­rant, di­ners can sample a “Pre­si­den­tial Bur­ger” — in which the bun is top­ped with a friz­zy slice of fried cheese that looks convin­cin­gly si­mi­lar to Pre­sident Do­nald Trump’s mop of hair.

13. The staff mem­bers, ho­we­ver, do not all share the same ex­ci­te­ment for all things Do­nald and Me­la­nia. “I think at the time when he was elec­ted, people were ex­ci­ted, but now it’s kind of worn out,” said Mia Po­dles­nik, a young wai­tress at Ron­do. “Mar­rying so­meone — I don’t think that’s real­ly an ac­com­plish­ment.”

For most the connec­tion re­mains pri­ma­ri­ly a com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ty.

I I I B2-C1 SLO­VÉ­NIE ÀÀ Me­la­nia’s num­bers 1 st A for­mer fa­shion mo­del, she be­gan mo­del­ling at five years old. Sev­ni­ca

(Lau­ra Bou­sh­nak/The New York Times)

Sev­ni­ca, the town where Me­la­nia Trump spent her child­hood.

(Lau­ra Bou­sh­nak/The New York Times)

Bur­gers and slip­pers ins­pi­red by first la­dy Me­la­nia Trump in Sev­ni­ca.


A "Me­la­nia" apple pie at the cof­fee shop Kru­hek.

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