I fell in love with Istria, years and years ago. My first trip to Istria goes back in the time when my husband had a motorcycle and we cruised through beautiful Istria countryside. And, when I was a student I spent 5 days in Istria with my college colleagues. That was such a fun time! And, this early June I decided to go back and visit Istria once again!Maybe, I should start with explaining what is Istria. Righ? Well, Istria is the part of Croatia. The heart-shaped, 3600-sq-km peninsula just south of Trieste in Italy. It is surrounded by the Adriatic sea. And you can find the most beautiful beaches here. The Istria is so special because here you can find the breathtaking views, famous historical sites, special gastronomy and of course – the sea.
Till now I visited almost the whole Istria. The countryside and the cost. But, there was still one place I passed by so many times and didn’t stop. I am talking about Motovun.
A small hilltop town situated in the heart of Istria. This part is often compared to Tuscany. And the walk around Motovun will show you why.
This area has a famous gastronomy. It is very well known among foodies because the nearby forests are full of hidden treasure: black and white truffles. Actually, the biggest truffle was found in forests of Motovun Istria back in 1999. The founder, Giancarlo Zigante, still holds the world record in Guinness book of records for the largest white truffle ever found in the world. White truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) was 19.5 cm long, 12.4 cm wide, 13.5 cm tall and weighed 1.31 kg. Its value at the time was estimated at 5.000 $.
Restaurant Zigante – the real taste of Istria
If you are visiting Motovun. Don’t miss the Zigante Restaurant! Situated in Livade, a small village underneath Motovun, Restaurant Zigante has the perfect location. Livade is not crowded with tourists. And, the ones that you can see there are either the Restaurant guests or on a cycling tours passing by.
Yes, Istria has the perfect cycling routes and is really popular for this type of tourism. Don’t miss cycling around and exploring the area and nature on the bikes when you visit Istria. I didn’t have the time to do this but it is on my to-do list for the next time.
But, let’s get back to the gastronomy. 🙂
I stayed in B&B Zigante. It is next to the restaurant and the room was huge. The best part is that you can see the Motovun from here. 🙂
Restaurant Zigante is based on slow food concept. You can choose Bronze, Silver, Gold and Royal Prestige menu. With a different number of meal courses and wine pairing. Going from three to the six-course menu. The menu heavily relies on truffles! From tartaric steak, lamb chops and ice cream everything is stuffed with truffles!
I just loved it!! But I have to stress out the fantastic creamy ice-cream with truffles! It was absolutely the best ice-cream I have ever eat in Croatia!
Zigante also serves excellent olive oil of his own production and the wine. Here is a store with all Zigante products. From cheese and wine to jams with truffles. I couldn’t resist. So, I bought a few bottles of wine and jam with figs and truffles! Yummy!
Even though the place is a bit pricey but it is definitely worthy of the experience!
Motovun – town that overlooks the Mirna valley
As I said, Motovun is a small town on the top of the hill. You can not get in the town with the car, only on foot. And that gives a special value to this small town. There are restaurants and coffee bars where you can sit and enjoy the view and calmness of Motovun. Also, here are a few olive oil shops where you can try and buy Istrian olive oil.
Take a walk around the town and see:
Main Square in Motovun
Parish Church of St. Stephen
Motovun Bell Tower
On your walk, you will see colorful houses and roof tops of the Motovun. Perfect scenery for the Instagram pic. 🙂
With its central position Motovun enables you to reach cost cities very fast. With only 30 minutes drive you can be in Umag, Novigrad, Poreč or Rovinj.
I haven’t been in Novigrad, so I went there. And I was pretty amazed! Novigrad is a colorful little city which reminded me of some Spanish cities. In the high season, the town is full of tourists.
After a quick walk through the town, I went to the beach. The beach is really close, about 1,5 km from the city center. And the sea, oh my gosh, it was beautiful! I was surprised how warm was it!
Finally, I hope I convinced you to visit Istria when in Croatia. It is just 3 hours drive from Zagreb and it offers much more the “classic” tourism. Definitely, stop at Zigante for a lunch and Motovun for an afternoon coffee! Then jump in the Adriatic sea in Novigrad! 🙂
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