The Italian side of Croatia.

Motovun Travel Blog

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Welcome to the "country of good wines." Well let me in!

In the northernmost corner of Croatia there is a peninsula called Istria. This small triangle of land borders Slovenia in the north, and just a short distance beyond Slovenia is Italy, whose culture has most definitely bled into the region. Steve and I drove through beautiful Istria today, stopping to visit three villages. We found signage written both in Croatian and Italian, people speaking an Italian dialect in shops, and the food… also very Italian. Of course, it was a great day.

The first stop was Motovun, a tiny medieval hill town. It’s so small that the name was written on the map in the very teeniest, tiniest, lightest typeface. We found it without too much difficulty (well marked with signs), and had to park at the bottom and walk up to the town -- this too reminded me of Italy.
The hilltop village of Motovun.


It was kind of hard to spend too much time in Motovun, as there’s just a whole lot of nothing going on there. There were a few truffle/wine/olive oil shops and a couple small jewelry stores, plus one big hotel at the top. A tour group had been let out in one of the shops and it was packed with people frantically pushing and shoving to make their purchases…they must have been on a tight timeline. Bummer.

We walked around the town’s medieval defensive wall for a gorgeous view, then we strolled this way and that way, always quickly ending up at that hotel I mentioned. There were not many streets…it’s a very small place. On the way out I bought a pair of earrings that the woman had made right there in her shop. I also bought a couple of beautiful tomatoes, and we stopped for a nice picnic on a stone wall just outside of town.
Groznjan street scene.
The scenery was fantastic, and it kept reminding me of Tuscany, where we had one of our favorite driving trips of all time.

Next stop was Groznjan. We had to drive on a gravel path to get there, and kept wondering all along if we were really going the right way. We finally got there after just one false turn, and here we discovered a larger and more interesting medieval stone town. Many artists have taken up residence in Groznjan -- painters, potters, sculptures, and especially, musicians. The result is a palpable (and audible) culture. Whereas Motovun seemed like a museum -- a shell of a former town -- Groznjan is a living and thriving place. There were many narrow cobblestone alleys to explore, sometimes leading into picturesque courtyards, sometimes leading to people’s doorsteps.
Probably inspecting a bug. Kids.
Many of the artists were selling their wares, but there was no pushiness, so it was pleasant to browse in the stores. Our walk was sound-tracked with the music of people practicing their cellos and violins, the sound of which wafted throughout the town. It is a really magical place. We both loved this town.

Our final destination was Rovinj, a much larger town and obviously a popular stop on the tourist track…there were lines of cars to get in to the parking, and swarms of people were storming the town. It is understandable why so many people come here, though. It is a medieval stone town built on a former island. The stone houses with their red tile roofs are built right up against one another, right to the edge of the water. It is just ridiculously picturesque.

The weather, which I have somehow failed to mention so far, was almost unbearably hot and humid…much worse here in Rovinj than the other inland towns.
Harbor at Rovinj.
We parked the car at the harbor and as we walked over to the town, I kind of wanted to turn around and go back to the car. Uffda - HOT! But inside the stone city, hidden from the sun, it was cooler. We explored many quaint streets and alleys towards the center, which were fairly quiet compared with the busy cafes and shops found on the outer perimeter. The marble cobblestones had been worn smooth and shiny by centuries of pedestrians, and I slipped and nearly fell a couple times while going downhill. There was a park on the far side, and the view of the water was just beautiful… and inviting! I was so hot I wanted to jump right in).

Istria was a good call, but eventually we had to go “home” to our touristy, overrun, kinda ugly Opatija :^(. The place somewhat redeemed itself, however, at dinner time. We visited Ruzmarin on the recommendation of the hotel’s clerk, and it was a great little restaurant tucked away in the hills above the harbor area.
Good place.
The place was packed, so the secret’s out, but we found a table and had a great dinner of fish for Steve and “grilled” (not really…more like fried in olive oil) vegetables for me. We both longed for the pasta with truffles and cream that everyone else seemed to be ordering. Mmmmm...it smelled terrific.   

And now early to bed. Tomorrow we are getting outta Opatija and heading south … to Split.

Buona notte!




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Welcome to the country of good wi…
Welcome to the "country of good w…
The hilltop village of Motovun.
The hilltop village of Motovun.
Groznjan street scene.
Groznjan street scene.
Probably inspecting a bug. Kids.
Probably inspecting a bug. Kids.
Harbor at Rovinj.
Harbor at Rovinj.
Good place.
Good place.
Magic potions for sale. Or maybe i…
Magic potions for sale. Or maybe …
The tour bus let out here.
The tour bus let out here.
Some tourists shopping for olive o…
Some tourists shopping for olive …
Town relics on display in Motovun.
Town relics on display in Motovun.
Buildings in Motovun.
Buildings in Motovun.
Motovun alleyway.
Motovun alleyway.
Countryside view from the Motovun …
Countryside view from the Motovun…
Self portrait in Motovun.
Self portrait in Motovun.
Rooftops and hills, shot from the …
Rooftops and hills, shot from the…
Clock tower in Motovun.
Clock tower in Motovun.
In Motovun.
In Motovun.
Patchwork rooftop.
Patchwork rooftop.
I wonder why the bottom one are ne…
I wonder why the bottom one are n…
Looks old. Motovun.
Looks old. Motovun.
Steve on the way out of Motovun.
Steve on the way out of Motovun.
I bought earrings here.
I bought earrings here.
Pretty-in-pink Motovun building.
Pretty-in-pink Motovun building.
Our picnic spot.
Our picnic spot.
Self portrait with lunch.
Self portrait with lunch.
Again.
Again.
The village of Groznjan from the r…
The village of Groznjan from the …
Could this be right?! The unpaved …
Could this be right?! The unpaved…
Yum!
Yum!
Groznjan tunnel.
Groznjan tunnel.
Me in Groznjan.
Me in Groznjan.
Groznjan is an artists town.
Groznjan is an artist's town.
Someones home in Groznjan.
Someone's home in Groznjan.
Groznjan.
Groznjan.
View of Rovinj from the harbor.
View of Rovinj from the harbor.
Rovinj alleyway.
Rovinj alleyway.
Tourists in Rovinj.
Tourists in Rovinj.
View of the Adriatic from Rovinj.
View of the Adriatic from Rovinj.
Everywhere is picturesque. Rovinj.
Everywhere is picturesque. Rovinj.
Laundry day Rovinj.
Laundry day Rovinj.
My salad for dinner. Beans! Thats…
My salad for dinner. Beans! That'…
Not as healthy as I hoped, but rea…
Not as healthy as I hoped, but re…
Steves dinner.
Steve's dinner.
About 15 minutes later!
About 15 minutes later!
Motovun
photo by: Paulovic