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Istria And Kvarner

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First-class authentic gastronomy

You can find out a lot about the present and the past of the magical Istrian Peninsula from its cuisine. Due to the extremely fertile land and mild climate, the basis of Istrian traditions, including its authentic cuisine, is the peasant lifestyle.

Around an Istrian dining table you can smell the rich aroma of sauerkraut and žgvacet (chicken stew) with home-made fuži (a type of pasta), the bounteous Istrian jota (bean stew) or the maneštra od bobići...

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First-class authentic gastronomy

You can find out a lot about the present and the past of the magical Istrian Peninsula from its cuisine. Due to the extremely fertile land and mild climate, the basis of Istrian traditions, including its authentic cuisine, is the peasant lifestyle.

Around an Istrian dining table you can smell the rich aroma of sauerkraut and žgvacet (chicken stew) with home-made fuži (a type of pasta), the bounteous Istrian jota (bean stew) or the maneštra od bobići (minestrone with meat and vegetables), while the hardworking Istrian housewives use the local seasonal asparagus to make a simple, but incredibly tasty frittata. The wild asparagus, one of Istria's most highly prized delicacies, takes great skill to harvest. Cheese and prosciutto are used for more formal affairs and they are served with warm bread just out of a wood-fired oven. Another true delicacy is the meat of the Boškarin, the indigenous and traditional cattle of the Istrian peninsula. Today you can enjoy these authentic specialties in a great number of restaurants, and whichever of the 145 taverns or agro-tourism guesthouses you choose is guaranteed to appeal to all your senses with their unique setting and ambiance.

Its majesty – the truffle

The crown of Istrian cuisine goes to the renowned aphrodisiac that was the delight of Roman emperors - the magnificent truffle. This unique mushroom of specific taste and aroma grows underground, and in Istria there are two varieties: the white and the black truffle. In addition to being extremely rare, the process of harvesting truffles is like a treasure hunt because it takes specially trained dogs and pigs to sniff and dig them out from the ground. The Istrian white truffle is one of the most highly prized truffles in the world, and it was precisely in Istria near the town of Buje that the biggest truffle in the world was discovered. Weighing 1.31 kg, it is included in the Guinness Book of World Records. The most famous place where you can try this delicacy is the Zigante Restaurant in Livade. Treat yourself to the Istrian fuži or pljukanci (another local type of pasta) with truffles, steak with grated truffles or risotto with truffles, and end the perfect meal with some warm chocolate truffle cake. Bon appétit!

Istrian wines and olive oils

Just as wine and food have always gone hand in hand, the wine grape has always been an essential part of the fertile Istrian Peninsula. Famous worldwide as one of the finest wine regions along with Italy, South Africa and Australia, Istria prides itself on its Malvasia and Teran wine varieties, followed by the Gamay Beaujolais, Carbonera, and the many famous high-quality varieties such as Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Refosco, Cabernet Sauvignon, but also the Momjan Muscat and the Poreč Muscat. The famed wine roads in Istria are the best way to explore the incredible beauty of the Istrian landscape and the treasures of its wine cellars.

Along with wine, Istria has an ancient tradition of olive oil production. This divine fruit and elixir attains an incredible quality in Istria, which has ensured it the highest rankings on the list of the world's best olive oils, while Istrian olive farmers enjoy a reputation of experts of the trade at international festivals.

Natural attractions

Istria's beautiful natural scenery tells an endless story with a happy ending for every season. The sun-bathed wooded hills and fertile fields of the interior are replaced by the fantastic mix of Mediterranean greenery and crystal clear blue sea on the coast. The Brijuni National Park, composed of 14 islands and islets, is a fantastic representation of the harmony of the rich local flora and fauna, and a witness to life in this area since antiquity.

The southernmost and sunniest part of the Istrian Peninsula, Cape Kamenjak, and the 10-kilometer-long Lim Bay, framed by up to 100-meter-tall steep cliffs, bear witness to nature's incredible generosity.

The Učka Nature Park is marked by incredible natural diversity, and it also has a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire area. Even underground Istria’s natural wonders don't disappoint. The Baredine Cave, a protected geomorphologic natural monument, is the site of numerous stalagmite and stalactite sculptures and a home to the cave olm, an endemic species that can be found only in this karst landscape.

A wealth of sports activities

The mild Istrian climate, fresh air and clean sea are the perfect backdrop for all lovers of active vacations and adrenaline junkies. Almost 3,000 km of cycling routes, including the famous Parenzana or Porečanka, make Istria one of the most attractive destinations for cyclists who will also find it hard to resist the charms of long walks in this impressive landscape.

Diving into the clear waters of the Adriatic reveals a multitude of reefs, caves and shipwrecks that seduce visitors into exploring them, while the rich flora and fauna invites them to try out fishing and hunting. If you want an adrenaline adventure, hop on a windsurfing board and let the wind and waves take you for a ride, or put on the some paragliding or hang-gliding gear and head for the skies. As the host of the prestigious Croatia Open ATP Tournament in Umag, and with 430 tennis courts, Istria has proven to be an attractive tennis destination. Its fantastic landscape also invites visitors to a play a round of golf, something they can do on the heavenly Brijuni Islands, which since the beginning of the 20th century is home to one of the biggest golf courses in Europe.

Cultural and historical heritage

The mixture of antique, Byzantine and medieval culture has made Istria a living treasury of cultural heritage that reveals its charms in every corner of the peninsula. The Pula Arena is the most famous and best-preserved monument of ancient architecture in Croatia. This amphitheatre was built in the 1st century AD, under the rule of Emperor Vespasian, and it is the 6th largest Roman amphitheatre in the world. Another landmark in Pula is the antique Forum, adorned by the Temple of Augustus dedicated to the goddess Roma and Emperor Augustus.

The significance of the most beautiful and best-preserved monument of early Byzantine art on the Mediterranean, the Euphrasian Basilica, the symbol of the town of Poreč, has also been recognized by UNESCO, which inscribed it into its World Heritage List. Another site that tells a unique story is the medieval town of Dvigrad and its stone walls that surround the long-destroyed ghost town. The heart of Istria also prides itself on its unique memorial Glagolitic Alley, situated along the road between the small towns Roč and Hum. Finally, the streets of Grožnjan, the town of artists and music, have a fantastic atmosphere of their own.

Celebrities in Istria

The list of people who have recognized the natural treasures of Istria and found inspiration in them includes many world-renowned figures. It was on the fertile Istrian ground that Dante Alighieri wrote parts of his Divine Comedy. James Joyce also called Pula his home, while Jules Verne found inspiration in the Abyss of Pazin.

The natural beauty of the Brijuni islands attracted film divas Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, acting great Richard Burton, as well as the famous Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who arrived on Brijuni as the guest of the Ulysses Theatre. Numerous music legends have performed under the starry skies over the Pula Arena, ranging from Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, and José Carreras to Jamiroquai, Eros Ramazzotti, Norah Jones, Zucchero, Elton John, Sting, Joe Cocker, Manu Chao, and countless others. Finally, numerous local and international tennis legends have played on the tennis courts of the Umag ATP Tournament.

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