Of course this being Europe, continent of ever fluid borders,
Istria was once part of Italy (1919-1947) and still has a sizeable minority of
Italian speakers, particularly in the coastal and northern
Enough exposition - what to see? Rovinj is one of Istria's star
attractions and a major draw card for visitors to the region. This
coastal town has followed in Italy's footsteps with delicious food
and wine, and it is also one of the Mediterranean's last true
Away from the coast, there are also some quintessentially
Italian pastimes to enjoy in the beautiful and bucolic interior
such as truffle-hunting and wine-making, all while staying in and
visiting hilltop villages that look distinctly Tuscan. Buzet is the
truffle capital of Istria, and its nearby forests boast three types
of black truffle as well as the much sought after white truffle.
The beautiful oak forests of Motovun, however, hold the title of
the largest ever white truffle discovered, weighing in at a
gargantuan 1.31 kgs. The hilltop town itself was fortified by the
Venetians in the 14th century, and Romanesque and Gothic buildings
line the cobbled streets within the walls.
Other towns of note off the tourist trail include Svetvinčenat
to the south, an enchanting town where the order of the day is
wandering; Gračišće, a sleepy medieval town that is often
overlooked, surrounded by rolling hills and ancient buildings; and
Porec, which is home to one of the most important Western Byzantine
churches outside of Italy.
Even better, the coastline is every bit as beautiful as that
further south in Croatia, so it's very much the best of both worlds
here. Which only leaves us pondering one thing. Why on earth don't
more people go on holiday to Istria?