The Italian side of Croatia.
Motovun Travel Blog› entry 196 of 251 › view all entries
August 13th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
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.
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.
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. Many of the artists were selling their wares, but there was no pushiness, so it was pleasant to browse in the stores.
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.
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.
And now early to bed. Tomorrow we are getting outta Opatija and heading south … to Split.
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