Istria, Croatia

by Kathy Dragon on October 14, 2008

Croatia: Istria, the next Tuscany?…let’s hope not! | The Dragon’s Path | Kathy Dragon

Exploring Istria this fall was a perfect end
to my two weeks in Croatia. Yes, I’d heard Istria might be the new
Tuscany but needed to see it to believe it.  (Photos!)

Much of the peninsula is caught between mass
tourism, holiday homes and horrid communist era buildings.  That might
be enough to keep you away…it shouldn’t be.

Move into the interior of the region and
you’ll find the walled hill villages, Romanesque churches, family-run
oil, cheese and wine producers, eclectic galleries, affordable
“konoba’s” (small restaurants serving local dishes), clean/comfortable
family run hotels or “sobe” (rooms) and apartments for rent.

Along the coast there remain a sampling of
wonderful towns, like Rovinj, which reminds me of the towns along the
Ligurian Coast including those of the Cinque Terre.

Typical of Croatia, local are friendly,
engaging and interested in sharing their country with you.  They are
likely to invite you into their home, wine cellar or shop with a
smile….something difficult to find these days in Tuscany or Provence.

Motovun and Rovinj are great basis for 2-3
nights, one on the coast and one in the interior. You’ll find good
biking and walking routes, a variety of “wellness” centers, and all
sorts of events involving local food such as the wild asparagus
(spring), grape, olive and truffle (fall) as well as culture festivals
throughout the year.

Here’s a sample:

“Throughout the whole month of October, in the
Mirna valley – in Opatija, the Istrian thermal springs, Gradinje and
Motovun – the festivities of the “Days of truffles” are held. During
these days it is a special experience tasting dishes made from freshly
picked truffles, these noble, tasty aphrodisiac mushrooms, including
many other programs. Along with the month long “Days of truffles”
festivities, Motovun, in the first weekend in November, plays host to
the “Festival of balloons, wine and truffles”, a manifestation whose
gastronomic pleasures are enriched with an air of adventure.”

Access is easy from Pula or Zagreb (Croatia),
Lubiana (Slovenia)  and Triest or Venice (Italy). You’ll want a car if
you aren’t with a tour group. Most folks speak some english and many of
the menus are in English.

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