Istria is the westernmost part of Croatia, an arrowhead-shaped peninsula dipping into the Adriatic Sea directly East of Italy and Venice. In fact, the history of the Istrian peninsula is closely tied to Italy; from the Roman Empire to todays vineyards and olive groves, Istria owes much to its sometimes stormy relationship with Italy.
Today, Istria is a paradise of small towns and villages, many expanded during the Middle Ages on the ruins of Roman fortresses and villas. After Rome completed the conquest of Istria in approximately 50BC, it became a popular vacation destination, even then. Many towns and villages owe their existence to the summer villas built by Roman royalty. Even today, Pula, Istrias largest city, contains the amazingly well preserved remains of the 6th largest arena (coliseum) ever built by the Romans which still plays host to concerts, plays, and even an annual film festival . Remains of the Roman gateway to the city as well as the paved Roman roads can still be seen today, as well.
But the true beauty and charm of Istria lies not in the cities, but in the many town and villages that dot the coastline and hillsides of this picturesque and diverse region and in the warmth and generosity of her people.
Due to its proximity to western Europe, Istria is gaining in popularity as a tourist destination for many Europeans who are looking to experience all the Mediterranean has to offer without the prices of Italy and France.
Rugged, rocky coastlines and calm and serene beaches highlight access to what Jacques Cousteau called the clearest water in the Mediterranean thus providing some of the best sailing and diving experiences in the Adriatic Sea. You can relax on one of the many beaches, or by the pool of your 3 or 4 star hotel, or rent a villa or townhouse for a week or two; go biking on the miles of roads thru the rolling hills of the countryside; explore the Ucka National Forest. You can even go searching for the mushrooms, truffles and asparagus that grow wild in the forests. Explore the villages of Pazin and Buje in the interior; visit the churches an basilcas built in from the 16th to the 18th centuries that seem to rise from the center of virtually every town and village and take note of the Venetian architectural influences. Sample excellent Croatian wine from the hundreds of vineyards that grace the hillsides and be sure to taste the famous olive oil produced in the region. But, most of all, seafood! Fresh, varied and delicious, caught in the morning and on your plate in the evening; truly a gourmets delight!
If you are looking for a true Mediterranean and/or Tuscan experience, without the crowds, commercialism and expense; consideration should be given to this beautiful, diverse and grand region. It has it all!
If you have any questions regarding Istria, please contact me. I will be happy to help.