If you fancy escaping the busy and sometimes touristy coast of Istria, inland Istrian towns won’t disappoint you.Inland Istria has many picturesque towns that one can indulge into for a day trip or as a longer holiday.
Motovun host an internationally acclaimed film festival which transforms this otherwise sleepy hilltop town into a party town for the whole week in July.
Groznjan also knows as the town of artist host many jazz and music events during the summer months.
The beautiful Istrian towns of Hum, Svetvincenat,Roc, Oprtalj are definitely worth a day trip because of their beauty but also to sample delicious Istrian food including truffles and home made beard often offered in rural family owned restaurants.
Recently I was enjoying one of those meals in the mesmerizing town of Groznjan, a medieval hamlet on a hill that’s home to 30 galleries and a summer jazz school that bestows an intermittent bebop soundtrack to the ancient landscape. As I sat in the shaded stone courtyard taking in the soft breeze and lazily scraping up the last bits of lunch from my plate, it occurred to me that this must have been what Tuscany was like before the Hollywood movies, the cookbooks and the hordes of tourists: Tuscany when it was still under-the-radar and affordable.
Before the Olive Garden had ever laid eyes on it.
“No, Istria is not the new Tuscany,” I thought. “It’s the old Tuscany.”
One of our all time favorites is the small town of Groznjan or Grisignana. Groznjan is sometimes called the city of artist because of its numerous cultural events.
A short history of Groznjan
Groznjan was inhabited from the prehistoric times, according to evidence. Middle Ages was characterized by a new immigration wave, and numerous attacks.The first mention of Grožnjan dates from 1102, when istrian Marquess Ulrich II and his wife Adelaida granted their land to Patriarch of Aquileia.
From the 13th to the mid-14th century, Grožnjan belonged to the Pietrapelosa family and in the mid-14th century it fell under Venetian rule, as most Istria. During Venetian times the new walls were built because of defence reasons, as well as numerous churches and palaces. Unfortunately the plague epidemic and numerous attacks affected Groznjan.
It was particularly destructed during the war of Uskoci in the 17th century, and after the war and the fall of Venice, it was almost deserted and in decline. In 1813 Grožnjan, became part of the Austrian Empire.
During Austrian rule the Grožnjan area flourished again. Building of the Parenzana Railway railroad in 1902 enhanced development of trade and agriculture. With the the dissolution of the Austrian Empire, the subsequent Italian rule and the Great Depression had its consequences. In the 1920s people started to massively emigrate, looking for work. Grožnjan and its surrounding area’s real renaissance came after the annexation to the Republic of Croatia, when it became known as the city of artists.
- Renaissance loggia from the 6th century and a beautiful baroque Spinotti palace from the 18th century
- The small Churches of St. Rocco and St.Martin – built in the 16th century
- The city Gallery Fonticus – with many artworks from local and foreign artists
- The Limska draga fjord – is technically on the coast. This canyon has been declared “an area of outstanding natural beauty”, is a testimony to the climate changes and geological evolution of Istria. With its emerald green sea and diverse vegetation, this is one of the most beautiful fjords on the Adriatic coast.
- Dvigrad – Dvigrad is a medieval town abandoned in the 17th century, and only its ruins remain, of which the most impressive ones are those of the church of St. Sofia. Dvigrad is situated 23 kilometres from Rovinj.
With its population of only 17 people but officially a town, Hum is the Guinness World Record holder for the smallest town in the world.
This tiny city was first mentioned in documents dating from 1102, at which time it was called Cholm which is derived from the Italian name Colmo. Th western part of Hum is enclosed by walls and on the remaining sides houses are built into the defensive walls. Hum’s bell and watch tower was built in 1552 as part of the town’s defenses beside the town loggia.
The “Hum Glagolitic wall writings” are preserved in the St. Jerome (Sveti Jeromim) church. These are written in the formative period of Glagolitic in the 12th century and they are one of the oldest examples of Croatian Glagolitic literary culture in the Middle Ages. The town museum also displays a few Glagolitic writings.
- Hum, mistletoe grappa – Authentic Istrian brandy with mistletoe and other medicinal herbs, prepared according to a 2000-year-old recipe
- Glagolitic Alley – A monumental 7-km-long Glagolitic road that leads from Roc to Hum, with 10 monuments dedicated to the Glagolitic alphabet
- Motovun Film Festival is a must!
- Groznja SummerJazz Festival
- Day trip to the Grimaldi Castle in Svetvincenat
- Svetvincenat non-verbal theatre held in the summer months
- Day trip visit to Oprtalj or Portole