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Go on a short tour of Istria

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Istrian truffles

Istria is one of the most famous truffle regions in the world, and the famous Istrian truffle is one of the most highly prized gastronomic delights. The area of the Motovun Forest is fertile truffle ground where numerous, specially trained dogs and their proud owners hunt for truffles that are sometimes as valuable as gold. Istria boasts the biggest truffle ever discovered: the 1.3-kg truffle found by Giancarlo Zigante, one of the pioneers in the field of truffle gastronomy, and today the owner of a restaurant and factory for the production of various truffle-based products. Truffles in Istria can be found all year round, the most famous being the quality white and black ones. The white one thrives from December until spring, and the black from spring until summer – this is the time when these delicacies should be savoured in the unique ambience of Istrian agroturizam farmhouses, konoba taverns and restaurants.

High-quality olive oils and wines

Apart from the numerous truffle hunters, Istria is also home to some of the best olive growers. The olive groves of award-winning Klaudio Ipša are located beneath Oprtalj. His olives grow on slopes and terraces whose microclimate is reflected in the specific taste of his extra virgin olive oil.

Momjan represents a magical Istrian triangle in the north-western part of this peninsula, a triangle of excellent wine, olive oil and food. We highly recommend visiting the wine cellars of Gianfranco Kozlović, a pioneer in winemaking and owner of one of the most modern wine cellars in Istria. His neighbour Marino Markežić produces wine under the brand name of Kabola and owns a beautiful estate reminiscent of Tuscany (he is known as one of the very few growers who produce wine in amphorae).

Visit the most famous towns in Istria

A town not to be missed on your trip to Istria is Novigrad on the western coast, a former fishing village, still partly surrounded by its old town walls, and today a true Mecca for gourmets: here you will find an astonishing amount of excellent restaurants in a relatively small area. Novigrad is a town of the arts, where you should visit the collection of ships from the period of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Lapidarium (a permanent exhibition of stone sculptures from different periods). After that, we recommend visiting Poreč, the heart of western Istria, a town known for its Byzantine masterpiece – the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO site with frescos in rich colours and gold that seem as if they were made yesterday instead of 1,500 years ago.

South of Poreč and Novigrad, there lies the coastal town of Rovinj, known as the Venice of the eastern Adriatic (the town was actually under Venetian rule from the 13th to the 15th century). The Church of St. Euphemia (the biggest baroque building in Istria), whose bell tower rises at the top of the small island on which the town is located, was modelled on St. Mark's bell tower in Venice.

On the south-western tip of the Istrian peninsula, there lies Pula, a harbour town that hides a masterpiece of Roman architecture in its streets – one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres. The Pula Arena from the 1st century BC today no longer hosts gladiator fights, but is the venue for concerts of internationally acclaimed music stars, sporting events, various performances and film premieres.

Brijuni – magical islands in the heart of Europe

Not far from Pula, you can find the Brijuni Islands, a nature reserve where animals from different parts of the world roam freely. They were brought here for the needs of the former summer residence of the Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito. Today, the Brijuni Islands are open to visitors in search of complete peace and relaxation. In summer, one of the smaller islands stages theatrical performances by the Ulysses Theatre. The person in charge of this theatre is Rade Šerbedžija, the world-renowned actor who changed his Hollywood address for Rijeka (where he teaches acting), and who spends much of his time in the summer on the Brijuni Islands.

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