4. Koper: Flavors of Istria Tour to Hum, Grožnjan, & Motovun
Istria, a wonderful peninsula that lies near the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, is famous for its coastal sights and its vibrant green inland vegetation, with numerous cultural-historic attractions and memorable natural vistas viewed from village hilltops. Additionally, it is a treasure trove of culinary delights. Istrian cuisine is a reflection of the climatic, geographical, and historical wonders of the area, combining multiple local culinary traditions based on olive oil, seafood, seasonal vegetables, aromatic spices, and indigenous plants. Hidden beneath your Istrian host’s smile is an on-going invitation to taste and discover the real features of this idyllic coastal land. It’s the environmental beauty and living history that draws you in; along with the diligent craftsmanship witnessed in every stone. During your tour, you will visit 3 famous Istrian villages where you will taste local liquors, wines, cheeses, truffle products, and marmalades.
Hum – the smallest town in the world
Hum, the smallest town in the world, is located in the heart of Istria that claims only 20 inhabitants. Your visit to Hum will be like a beautiful fairy tale of small Istrian towns. This hidden, picturesque region of Istria is extremely friendly to all visitors who come to marvel in the sights the town has to offer. According to local legend, Hum was built with the stones left over when giants were building towns in the Mirna River valley, an area in central Istria that includes wonderful mountain towns such as Motovun, Roč, and Bale. Apart from being famous for being the smallest town in the world, Hum recently became popular for biska, a spiced brandy made with mistletoe according to an old Hum recipe.
Motovun – the most famous medieval town of Istria
Northern Istria, located high above the Mirna River, is home to arguably the most attractive and famous medieval town in the country – Motovun. This fascinating town that lies on top of a hill is the characteristic symbol for the inner heart of Istria. The bell tower, which was built in the 13th century in a Romanesque-Gothic style, dominates the center of the historic town from its position adjacent to St Stephen’s 17th century parish church. There are many other beautiful historic buildings that surround it. Motovun’s forest is a particularly good hunting ground for truffles, the alleged aphrodisiac fungus which grows underground and is prized for its distinctive aroma. These white truffles are said by many to be as good as their French and Italian counterparts. Vineyards surround the town from all sides; Istria’s finest wines are produced from the grapes of these vineyards. The whole region is sprinkled with superb restaurants and “konobe.” During your visit to Motovun, you will get to experience these delicious local truffle products for yourself.
Grožnjan – town of artists and music
Grožnjan is a small Istrian town that holds a great cultural significance not only to Croatia but worldwide. Surrounded by green hills and magical white soil, this town is a must-see for those who want to discover the treasure trove that is Istria. Because of its interesting history, Grožnjan is rich in ancient churches, prehistoric sites, medieval castles, magnificent palaces, and many other historic structures whose past glory was recovered once again through restoration. Its white soil feeds the many neighboring vineyards and olive groves. Because of all this, the area of Grožnjan is ripe with agritourism and many taverns and restaurants offer traditional Istrian cuisine to their guests. Grožnjan is also home to several national and international artists. There are as many as 28 ateliers in this small town; there is also the City Art Gallery which hosts artists’ works from around the world (even the well-known Imaginary Film Academy found its home here). In the summer, all of Grožnjan becomes a stage for world renowned jazz and classical musicians, as well as many of the other artists who have discovered the true joy of creation here.