Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula dangles off the northwest corner of the country into the Adriatic Sea. Like much of Croatia, the coastline in Istria is the big attraction. Seaside towns steeped in history line the western shore, each exuding unique character. However, the interior of the Istrian Peninsula is equally picturesque and has a storied past of its own. Medieval hilltop towns and regional delicacies are as much a reason to visit Istria as the translucent waters of the sea. Although we opted to base ourselves on the coast during our stay, we planned a one-day tour of Istria that included both the coast and the interior so that we could experience the must-see highlights of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula.
We pass by the obvious cafes in the open squares that have menus in English and head up the twisted cobblestone lanes that lead into the interior of the old town. We smile at the elderly lady we’ve seen dozens of times, mumbling something we probably couldn’t understand even if we did speak the language. Three young boys race past us, searching for adventure in their hometown, weaving through the tour groups that block their way. We move onto a narrower street with fewer art galleries, only one tourist shop and a simple café, which seems to invite a more local clientele. We take a seat at one of the outdoor tables. Sitting side-by-side, we face the street and observe local life in Rovinj, Croatia.
This four-part series details the four stops on our Istrian day trip. Our adventure through Istria included Truffle hunting and sampling, Istrian Brandy processing and sipping, visiting Motovun, a hilltop town, and visiting Porec, seaside town. It was a day full of new tastes, sights and experiences.
As we turned yet another curve on a road in the Istrian interior, we caught our first glimpse of Motovun, perched on the hill and surrounded by a wall. The colorful homes clinging to the hillside looked like sprinkles scattered on the top of an ice cream cone. The sight was more beautiful than we imagined and my only disappointment was that I didn’t ask the driver to stop so I could capture the scene with a photo.
This four-part series details the four stops on our Istrian day trip. Our adventure through Istria included Truffle hunting and sampling, Istrian Brandy processing and sipping, visiting Motovun, a hilltop town, and visiting Porec, a seaside town. It was a day full of new tastes, sights and experiences.
Brandy before noon? Don’t mind if we do! As regular taste-testers of craft brew and local wine, sampling Istrian brandy at a distillery was right up our alley – regardless of the time of day!
This four-part series details the four stops on our Istrian day trip. Our adventure through Istria included Truffle hunting and sampling, Istrian Brandy processing and sipping, Visiting Motovun, a hilltop town, and visiting Porec, a seaside town. It was a day full of new tastes, sights and experiences.
I’m ruined for life. After just one bite of scrambled eggs with black truffles, I doubt I will ever again eat a better egg dish. I would love to start every day with a plate of the pungent, fungi goodness and was overjoyed that it was how we started our Istrian day trip.
Rovinj was an island until 1763 when the channel was filled in, connecting the city to the mainland. As an island, it was heavily fortified with two stone walls surrounding it – keeping attackers and illness (like the plague) out, which made it quite a desirable place to live. The limited space resulted in narrow streets and stacked housing, but not a lot of green space. However, nature isn’t far and there are ample hiking and biking trails in Rovinj, Croatia. To the south is the Golden Cape Forest Park and to the north is the rural countryside filled with vineyards and olive groves. Both are well connected with paths. We set out on foot to the south and rented bikes to explore the area to the north.
Wine in Croatia, like so much of Europe, is part of daily life. Croatia’s lengthy coastline along the Adriatic Sea provides favorable conditions for cultivating vines, which are frequently seen lining the hillsides. The Istrian peninsula is known for wine-making and, thus, wine tasting in Rovinj is a must-do. But even more than just tasting wine, we were interested in seeing where the wine was made. As it turns out, there are two wineries and a winery tasting room within walking distance from Rovinj’s old town – so we created our own wine walk.
There is something so incredibly idyllic about Rovinj, Croatia – from the turquoise water lapping the rocky shore to the narrow and twisting lanes to the St. Euphemia Church that sits at the highest point and its bell tower that stretches into the sky. We have been soaking it in, literally dipping into the sea every day.
St. Euphemia Church in Rovinj, Croatia
When we’re floating in the water, the view of the old town is as pretty as a painting and our eyes are drawn to St. Euphemia Church and bell tower. Intrigued equally by the story of St. Euphemia’s relics that are housed in the church and the views from the top of the bell tower, more than once we’ve wandered up the cobblestone streets that lead to the hilltop church.