Would you plan your holiday around Melania Trump? As you read the Guardian, we can probably assume that no, you would not, but that hasn’t stopped businesses in Sevnica, the sleepy town where the first lady grew up, from launching a flurry of products in the presidential name in order to attract some extra visitors.
The latest addition to the offerings in this town on the banks of the Sava river in the centre of the country, is “first lady” wine, which went on sale earlier this month at the town’s 900-year-old castle, priced at €27.90 a bottle (though some are said to have suggested it was sold for €500).
“It’s not a strong wine; it’s gentle like Melania,” Lojze Kerin, one of the four winemakers who produced it told Decanter magazine, while also getting in a plug in for the rest of the town’s produce. “We have good wine, we have the best salamis and we have other products that are very good. We shouldn’t be afraid or feel ashamed of offering them to a wider audience.”
Other delicacies on offer include Melania cake, a nutty, white chocolate sponge with gold decoration, created by a local bakery, while one restaurant even chose to give her name to a trout dish. And Reuters reported on the day of the inauguration that the town’s Kruhek bakery was selling over 100 “first lady” pies a day.
The local tourist office is also offering a selection of Melania-centric tours, which include stopping by at the school the first lady attended, before taking in the town’s main sights – the castle and the market. Melania Knavs lived in the town into her teens, before moving to the capital, Ljubljana, when she went to high school.
According to Visit Slovenia, there has been an increase in visitor numbers since Donald Trump’s presidential campaign started.
“The world’s leading media reported about the homeland of the then potential first lady, while some of them even visited Slovenia to get more information,” it said in a statement.
“Besides the media, an increased number of American citizens are now also expected to become interested in the homeland of the first lady.”
Still, the sense from one BBC report, broadcast in late January, is that the town’s locals are getting a little weary of journalists thrusting microphones towards them and asking what they think about her.
“Errr, great woman,” says one resident, barely stopping as she walks past the reporter. “To me, it’s not interesting,” says another.
Melania’s reaction to “Melaniamania”, as some have described it, has been a little frosty. Her legal team has been warning businesses that it would not allow her photo for commercial purposes.
Still, all 300 bottles of the first lady wine sold out in three days, so maybe Melania is enjoying a bigger fan club than many imagine.