Contrasts abound in tiny Slovenia. It’s a modern, forward-looking nation where tales of fairies and mountain spirits retain currency. It is thoroughly Slavic yet displays obvious Italianate and Germanic influences. It boasts a clutch of Alpine peaks where snow may last into summer, but where Mediterranean breezes may suddenly raise temperatures. With almost half of its total area covered in forest, it is one of the greenest countries on earth, something that its residents – generally multilingual and suntanned, and always welcoming – appreciate and take advantage of. Perhaps out of necessity due to its Thumbelina proportions, Slovenia is neat and precise. Villages are orderly, churches picturesque and castles imposing, yet the pegan spirit of the people lives on their raucously colourful festivals.