Saturday, August 10, 2013

Croatian Istria

Could this be San Miguel?
Istria is a Croatian peninsula located very near to Trieste, Italy (but separated from Trieste by the short, maybe 6 mile-long, Slovenian coast.)  Istria has become quite renowned for it's truffles. It is also noted for having been part of many countries…including Venetian Empire, Austrian Empire, Italy, and Yugoslavia.

Istrian cuisine and wine lived up to expectations. Two gourmet meals. One at Monte with superior preparation & presentation.  One at Zigante where we OD'd on truffles...each course, including dessert has shaved truffles. We also enjoyed Segutra, a tapas bar (we went twice). The seafood was also excellent. 

Rovinj center is on a hill and features winding, steep streets like San Miguel. Along the streets are the requisite galleries and clothing shops.  Pat tried to check out ALL of the clothing shops but that was even too much for her.

Between meals we explored Rovinj, the nearby hilltop towns, much like in Tuscany or Umbria, and the neighboring seaside resort of Porec. Two notable hill towns are Motovun and Groznjan (cute, good views, lots of galleries and truffle shops).

During a sunset cruise on a small ship (there were 11 passengers and the captain) we spent our time photographing the harbor and sunset, watching the dolphins and talking with a Norwegian couple who visit Istria every summer.. 

Basilica in Porec
Anticipating more truffles
The highlight of Porec is the marvellous Basilica (built 543-554) with gleaming Byzantine mosaics.If we weren't already planning to see lots more ancient architecture we would have also gone to Pula, known for it's well-preserved Roman Amphitheater.

Frito Misto & Salad at Segutra
The menu & kitchen at Segutra

Rovinj at Sunset

Dining on the rocks

Looking up at Groznjan

Looking down from Motovun

Mackeral & Fries in Porec

Just another dish with truffles... ;-)

The area attracts a broad mix of nationalities and many languages not familiar to us, English was fortunately spoken everywhere as the "common" language. Our experience with Spanish, French and German helped us recognize a surprising amount of the words from the many unfamiliar languages…not enough to be useful but fun to observe.

We stayed at a lovely B&B which was part of a business including the Dbrovac Winery and Green Grocer (farm stand). Needless to say we enjoyed many fine wines, as well as some wonderfully fresh fruits and veggies.

OK, speaking of wines,  the two most noted grapes in Croatia are Malvazija (Malasia) & Plavac Mali.  Both result in fine wines.  Malvazija (white) is made in a range of styles, all dry but some more powerful than others. Plavac Mali is a red, related to Zinfandel.

Next stop: Venice.

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