Right in the middle of Europe, there is our home – Istria – a small peninsula in the shape of a crudely drawn heart. Covered by the Alps, bottom dangling in the turquoise blue of the Adriatic sea.
If you want to feel the real Croatian Tuscany, you have to go to the central part of the peninsula, far away from the busy beaches and overly crowded streets of Rovinj or Pula. Take any exit off the highway from the coast and you’ll find one tiny village after another, each with its own shambolic charm and unique architecture.
You can visit, for example, Grožnjan, a medieval hamlet on a hill that’s home from 30 to 60 galleries and a summer jazz school. You can sit in a shaded stone courtyard taking in the soft breeze and lazily scraping up the last bits of lunch or you can stroll through really romantic, winding stone alleys and enjoy the unique charm of the ancient stone houses.
Although the nearby sea perfumes the air, inland Istria is a world away. The climate is mild and Mediterranean, like Tuscany’s. You can enjoy your vacation during the winter as well but then of course the number of visitors is much smaller, which can provide a unique intimate atmosphere.
Restaurants are based on the principles of local production and consumption, and the celebration of traditional food culture like local varieties of olive oil, cheese, prosciutto, and wine. In Istria, you can find traditional dishes such as Istrian fuži, a type of homemade pasta that makes an irresistible dish that nourishes the soul when combined with truffles.
Ultimately, Istria has attracted a large number of tourists over the years and become a destination of choice for many looking for a Tuscan-style escape for a more calm environment.
Photo source: TZ Rovinj, TZ Grožnjan