This charming region is situated between the towns of Pazin, Motovun, and Buzet. It is often referred to as the Green Istria, and it offers a blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, adventure, and gastronomic delights. The region has a culinary landscape unlike any other, featuring dishes with truffles, Istrian olive oil, Boskarin beef, and the renowned Istrian pasta. To complement these tasty dishes, do not miss the opportunity to try Istrian wines, such as Malvasia and Teran.
How to get to Central Istria?
The region of Central Istria is linked to the European motorway network, ensuring smooth transit and scenic ride. If you are traveling from neighboring countries like Italy, Slovenia, or Austria, driving to Central Istria can be a convenient and relatively fast option so it is not uncommon that travelers from mentioned countries choose Central Istria for a lovely weekend getaway. Additionally, there is an airport situated in Pula, for travelers from more distant countries who do not wish to drive.
What to do in Central Istria?
Activities in Central Istria
Central Istria offers a wide range of activities and experiences for all travelers. It is renowned for its large network of biking and hiking trails that crisscross the region. One of the top destinations is the Učka Nature Park, an oasis with diverse flora and fauna. Hikers that reaches the top of Učka mountain are rewarded with a great panoramic view overlooking the Bay of Kvarner.
For the adventure enthusiasts, Central Istria is a paradise. It attracts thrill-seekers with activities such as zip-lining, rock climbing, high ropes courses, and paragliding. Adventurous travelers can enjoy several adrenaline parks that offer the mentioned adrenaline activities.
Along the charming bicycle and hiking trails, you will discover plenty of restaurants, taverns, and wineries that call you to taste local cuisine and wines.
Sightseeing in Central Istria
While visiting this part of Istria it is a good idea to visit Motovun. This charming town is situated on the top of the hill and it offers 360-degree views over the Mirna River valley, beautiful vineyards, and lush Motovun Forest where you can partake in truffle hunting. Truffle season is between September and December. Also, the famous Motovun Film Festival is held there annually, usually in late July. One of the popular ways to explore Motovun is by paragliding over surrounding vineyards and forests.
Truffles meal in historic town Motovun
Another must-see location situated in the very center of Istria is Pazin, the administrative center of Istria. Here you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, located inside Pazin Castle, and get insight into Istrian traditions and history. Another Pazin landmark is Pazin Cave. It is a unique natural wonder that can be explored via guided tours.
Grožnjan, situated atop a picturesque hill, is a delightful small town. However, what distinguishes this place is its remarkable collection of over 20 art galleries and studios thus earning the name of the “Town of Artists”. In late September the town transforms into an open-air gallery, where more than 300 artists from across Europe proudly display their artwork along the town streets and squares, offering a unique artistic experience.
What to eat in Central Istria?
Istrian cuisine reflects the region's history and its geographical location at the crossroads of various cultures resulting in a culinary landscape that is as diverse as it is delicious.
Istria boasts a rich pasta tradition with two varieties: "fuzi" and "pljukanci." Fuzi are short, twisted pasta tubes, while pljukanci are hand-rolled, irregularly shaped noodles. These pastas are often served with a range of sauces, from meat ragù to delicate truffle creations.
One of the most common Istrian dishes is prosciutto, the air-dried ham. Traditionally, prosciutto is made by salting and air-drying ham for at least a year. The result is a delicate ham with a slightly sweet and salty flavor. It is served individually, usually with cheese, but modern chefs are serving it with fresh figs and honey making it a delicious sweet and salty dish.
Another synonymous of Istria are the truffles, particularly the highly prized white truffles. These aromatic underground fungi are found in the region's forests and have become an integral part of Istrian cuisine. Beyond the classic truffle pasta, modern interpretations include truffle oils, truffle ice cream, and even truffle craft beers, showing the adaptability of this ingredient.
Fritaja, a beloved traditional Istrian dish, combines asparagus and eggs. To try this tasty meal, plan your visit to Istria in the spring when there is plenty of fresh asparagus and several festivals celebrate the Istrian iconic dish.
Supa, a traditional Istrian product, blurs the line between a dish and a drink. Made from warm red wine, olive oil, sugar, and a hint of black pepper, this elixir is served in a ceramic jug with slightly toasted bread for dipping.
Manestra, an Istrian soup, is often referred to as the "Istrian minestrone." It is traditionally made with beans, potatoes, and a variety of local vegetables. The key to a flavourful Manestra is simmering it to allow the flavors to melt together.
Wines of Central Istria
No exploration of Istrian cuisine would be complete without mentioning its exceptional wines. Within this renowned region, two distinctive varieties are especially famous: Malvasia and Teran.
Malvasia is a white wine with prominent floral and fruity notes. Within its spectrum, Malvasia includes a range of different wines, from bone-dry to really sweet.
Teranis a bold red wine with a strong, earthy taste. It's rich, a bit tangy, and feels full-bodied, thanks to its higher lactic acid. It was once prescribed as a remedy for anemia due to its exceptional iron content.
In conclusion, central Istria reflects an amazing combination of tradition and innovation. In addition to many opportunities for an active vacation and enjoying nature, all visitors are offered an unforgettable culinary journey that celebrates the rich history of the region, while at the same time accepting modern gourmet postulates.