Magical Istria - A Croatian Photologue
If you have never heard of Istria, let me take this opportunity to show you how I feel about this special place.
At the time that many of these photos were taken, Istria (Istra, locally), a region of Croatia near Italy and Slovenia, was being called "The Mediterranean, as it Once Was." While I do not know how the Mediterranean once was, I do know that there is something magical about this place, which has been shaped by the Adriatic Sea. Maybe because it has changed hands so many times, since the time of Greece and Rome, to Italy and Yugoslavia. Istria maintains an Italian feel, and many Italians live on the northwestern peninsula.
If you ask a local if they are Croatian, they will correct you with Istrian.
These photos were taken on a series of trips, one where I met my father's family for the first time. I hope these photos will convince you to visit, and that you will see the opportunity you have to visit a place that feels so authentic you feel sad when you think of that it is changing.
Holy Rocks - This photo was taken just south of Pula, near Verdula, on the Adriatic Sea. We parked our car at a resort and walked through a small forest of pine trees that leaned at an angle towards the sea and sun. I'll never forget the smell of that forest.
This spot is the ruins of an old church. Many couples have their wedding photos taken here. There were no tourists, and we ate sandwiches and watched men fish. Sailboats came and went.
Rovinj, Medieval Romance
If you visit Istria, you must have dinner and drinks in Rovinj (or Rovigno) at night. Small pizzas and wine, followed by shots of honey rakija. After a good buzz, you will climb the steep hill past artisans' shops selling handmade goods, open late for your convenience. At the top of the hill you will lose your breath, the church, Church of St. Euphemia, a St. George Church that once held the remains of the Saint. A church has been on this spot since at least the 10th Century.
You will then walk down the hill, the non-tourist way, through the medieval streets. That's where this photo was taken.
Pivo - Much magic can be seen after a few drinks, and there is none better than Croatia's own Ozujsko.
This photo was taken near sunset, near Rijeka, probably where pizza was invented, if not mastered.
When you return home from Istria, you will notice that your life is not as green as theirs. Shades of green and vitality, rows of wine grapes, and homes carved into hills overlooking fields and barns.
Istria, Friend and Family
In Istria, you are family. On the left is my friend, who accompanied my brother and I as we met our family for the first time. He was treated like a relation, which means wine at breakfast. This shot was taken as we visited another relative's house on our whirlwind tour of meats, cheeses and homemade wine.
Clouds Over Hum
A trip to Istria is not complete without a visit to Hum, the smallest town in the world. That's what they call themselves. And many others, too. This fortified town, more like an encampment, boasts a gift shop and a fantastic restaurant, Konoba Humska.
Sunset Over Motovun's Mythical Forest
Situated atop an 860+ foot hill in the center of Istria, the medieval town of Motovun (Montana) is the perfect place for a romantic walk through winding streets. The walls of the fortifications provide a stunning 360 degree view of all of Istria.
This photo was taken at a restaurant as the sun set over the valley, where truffles are hunted as a tasty and expensive delicacy. Locals say the forests are haunted, because of all the blood that has been spilled there defending the town. I felt chills as we walked down the hill in the dark, trading ghost stories.
All Images are Owned by and Copyrighted by the Author. No unauthorized reproduction. If you'd like to inquire about the photos or using them, email me at IstriaInfo (at) gmail.com
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