When going to Croatia try not to miss the picturesque region of Istria. What makes Istria recognizable is the region’s rich cultural heritage, gastronomy, natural diversity and inland’s small colorful towns.
Thanks to the Roman heritage Istria has a lot of archaeological sites. The most famous is the Arena in Pula – the Roman amphitheater which was the sixth largest in the Roman Empire. In the summer evenings, there are a lot of events in the Arena. What I enjoyed the most is a concert of Klape – a traditional a capella singing group from the Croatian region Dalmatia. The unique atmosphere, which traditional Croatian music will provide in the Roman amphitheater during warm summer nights, is an unforgettable experience.
Even though the coastal towns like Umag, Novigrad, Pula, Vrsar, Poreč and Rovinj are unavoidable to enjoy the real summer experience, what I liked the most were inland’s charming little towns. I was really amazed by the picturesque town of Bale, its history, and legends. Walking down Bale’s streets I enjoyed Venetian style architecture and adventure stories of the world’s most famous lover – Casanova. Apparently, he has visited Istria on several occasions and stayed in Vrsar and Bale. More important than his success with women were his travels through Europe. He wrote an autobiography called Histoire de ma vie (Story of my life), which was regarded as one of the most authentic sources of lifestyle, customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century.
Other towns I liked in the inland of Istria were Vodnjan, Buje, Vižinada, Svetvinčenat, and Motovun.
Motovun is a small town located on top of the hill from where you’ll experience a spectacular view over the river Mirna on the one side, and vineyards on the other. Motovun is also famous for its film festival which is held every year in July.
For all of you who are madly in love, I suggest romantic walks on the streets of Rovinj, and for those who are looking for solitude and peace, they will find their place near the lighthouse in Savudrija.
The streets of Istria have a distinct scent of lavender and truffles. I love the taste of traditional Istrian cuisine. You shouldn’t miss truffle cheese with olive oil and Istrian prosciutto, with a glass of Teran – Istrian red wine. It is a great experience for all gourmands. Croatians make great truffle cheese, oil and different sauces – truffle is a very important ingredient in traditional Istrian cuisine.
When in Istria you should also try recipes that involve boškarin – a type of cattle authentic for the Istrian peninsula.
For all the nature lovers who want to experience biodiversity which this region has to provide, the Aquarium in Pula and National Park Brijuni will take your breath away. Brijuni is a group of fourteen small islands where you can see the authentic Mediterranean flora and fauna. Every year Brijuni hosts different cultural events, and the most familiar are performances by the Ulysses Theatre. Going to watch a play in Brijuni is also a unique experience because you will have to take a boat ride from Fažana (a town located 5km from Pula). The boats are organized by the Theatre and included in the ticket price.
There are so many things I could write about Istria, so stay tuned, the next post will come soon.