Central Istria

Velvety hills, cut by the valleys of streams and rivers, mystical caves, wine trails, curled among small stone towns on hilltops and encircled by mighty medieval walls, seasoned by autochthonous cuisine and hospitality of the locals, will reveal to you the secrets of this area's enjoyment.

Central Istria is a rare Mediterranean region where you can enjoy the tenderness of its green forests, a rich historical heritage and almost invisible sights. Many bays and small hills created settlements where you will be acquainted with the life of an Istrian man and explore the tradition of Istrian villages.

The town of Pazin looks after the very centre of the County of Istria, which you can reach from all road directions leading from the Istrian coast. It is built on steep cliffs, above a deep pit, where a castle from which the Pazin County used to be governed is also situated. The Pazin Castle is a museum in which, apart from other exhibits, old Istrian bells are also kept. In the chasm of the Pazin Pit, the beauty of karst hydrography is at rest, in which the French writer Jules Verne placed the plot of his novel Mathias Sandorf. Experience the magic of the splendid ravine and of the medieval castle on the rocks in an adventure of descending using the Zip line, which will take you across the ravine to a platform from where you will, by photograph, be able to capture the experienced moment. If you do not like heights and still wish to experience the Pazin Pit, try the speleo-adventure along the Pazinčica river canyon through the attractive underground of intact nature.

Should you head north from Pazin, you will reach Motovun, a fortified town, which lies in the middle of a forested area, on a small hill bending over the Mirna river valley, surrounded by the landscapes of noble vineyards and olive groves, due to which it is considered to be one of the most picturesque medieval towns of this area. The town walls, inspired by the past, will provide you with the feeling of well-being, fulfilment and peace. Take a break in the town lodge, from where your eyes will reach the Učka mountain, encompassing the tree-tops of Saint Mark’s forest (the largest habitat of the white truffle) and a tranquil course of the Mirna river, as far as the sea expanse of Novigrad.

If you decide to explore the inland area, upstream of the fertile valley of the Mirna river, you will see Buzet – the City of Truffles, a unique fruit of this rich soil. The forest in the surrounding area of the town of Buzet is the home of the buried treasure – the Istrian white and black truffles. To their honour, the Truffle Days are held every year during the months of September and October, when you can enjoy typical Istrian dishes with truffles. Do not hesitate and go on a quest for the buried treasure with families who will take you looking for them, but who will also tell you an eventful tale about the truffles!

After having tasted truffles in Buzet, head for Hum, a town which, according to legend, was created when giants were building settlements in the Mirna river valley and when they used the leftover stones to, in the end, build Hum. Although the smallest town in the world, Hum is a well-known cultural, sports and gastronomic centre of Istria. Since recently, it also carries the title of the City of Biska, a brandy made with mistletoe, of which the recipe originated from Hum itself. In its honour, at the end of October, the Brandy Fair is held, where renowned producers of Istria compete for the title of the best brandy. Treat your palate to a drop of biska and research why Hum is, together with Roč, also the centre of glagolitism. Take a walk along the Glagolitic Alley, a memorial complex of the Glagolitic alphabet, which stretches along a 7 km-long road from Roč to Hum and includes 11 monuments of glagolitism in Istria.

Just a few kilometres to the west of Motovun, you will arrive in Grožnjan, yet another small town in the series, situated on a small hill, from which a delightful view spreads over the calmness of the Mirna river. Grožnjan lives and breathes for art; it is full of art studios and art, drama and music workshops that reach their peak during the summer months, when its narrow streets and small squares become a huge cultural stage. If you want to experience Grožnjan at its best, July is then the best time for that visit!

Should you go from Pazin due south, you will reach Žminj, an old crossroads of Istria. A small town, where the local houses have still preserved their original appearance, and which will give you the feeling of a true old-world home.

If you continue further due south, after Žminj, the road will take you to Svetvinčenat, a town which carries its name after its patron saint, Spanish martyr Saint Vincent and the abbey of the same name, around which this town developed. Go into the Grimani Castle, an amazing Venetian era edifice! Place your ear against its stone walls and listen to the story about the Venetian nobility, soldiers and merchants!

Spending a day on one of the numerous cycling and walking paths is a perfect way to explore and get to know Central Istria. As if made for that, there is Parenzana, once a narrow track railway line, now transformed into a cycling and walking path, which will take you through intact locations, surrounded by forests and fields. Do not forget your lights! The tunnels you will be passing through are completely dark. The historical railway track today carries the name of Parenzana – the path of health and friendship and inter-networks all the beauty of Central Istria, its forests and streams, mystic churches and wooden ruins with taverns-konobas and wine cellars, creating friendships and acquaintances along over 120 km of pathway.

During your visit to inland Istria your palate will not be disappointed either. This is a heaven for gourmands who like the taste of autochthonous Istrian cuisine and dishes with truffles, asparagus, Istrian ox or seasonal mushrooms. The Istrian gourmand experience rounds up divine olive oils and top quality wines, starting from malvazija to teran, harmoniously complementing every palate.

Reward yourselves with a holiday in Istria! Search for the intact natural and medieval monuments of Central Istria. Discover solitary stanzias, wine cellars and konobas. Abandoned to a perfect blend of rural life and modern age, you will feel by far the well-known lightness of being of an Istrian man!