Istria - a touch of Provence and Tuscany and a bit more

Photo of Motovun

All that you may love about Provence and Tuscany can be found in the small piece of heaven called Istria.

What to say about Istria? The largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea divided between Croatia and Slovenia with the best preserved Arena from Roman Empire rule and the magnificent National Park Brijuni. The peninsula on which their mark was left by the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Napoleon... Peninsula of medieval towns, ancient olive groves, truffles, prized Malvasia and Teran wines, pine forests, beautiful beaches and seafront promenades. But all of these only partly capture Istria. 

You shall experience the best of Istria by watching the sunset  with the sounds of jazz or classical music at the concert in the Amphitheatre of Pula. Sipping wine on the terrace in the medieval town of Motovun watching the sun bathing the tranquil valley of Mirna River. In a conversation with the artists who live, breathe and create in the beautiful old town of Grožnjan. Walking the pine forests along the sea and breathing the air with the smell of sea and pine trees, sipping coffee on the waterfront with views of one of the most beautiful towns that you've ever seen - Rovinj. You shall experience the best of Istria in its many taverns and wineries where you can enjoy local delicacies prepared for you by hardworking hands. In its vineyards and olive gardens, its beautiful beaches, swimming in crystal clear waters, walking the cobblestone streets of its towns, exploring its underwater world that conceals the lost pieces of rich history...

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Location

The westernmost county of the Republic of Croatia which borders with Italy at sea and Slovenia at sea and on land. Istria is the largest peninsula on the Adriatic.

Landscapes

The length of the Istrian coast, along with islands and islets is 539 kilometres. The west coast of Istria is more indented, and, together with islands, it is 327 kilometres long. East coast, together with islets, is 212 kilometres long.

The most of the Istrian coast is on the Karst and the limestone grounds. The sinking of Karst recess created specific and branched bays, such as the Pula port, the Medulin bay, the Rovinj coast, the Poreč coast and similar. Isolated limestone heights remained as islands. The coast is well developed with lots of bays, deeper small bays, and river mouths. Except for a series of smaller islets in front of the coast from Poreč to Rovinj, the Brijuni archipelago stands out in the south.

Mild and wavy relief shapes rise up towards the central part of the peninsula, to reach their highest point in the north-east, on the mountain massif of Ćićarija and Učka - peak Vojak with 1396 metres (situated in the Primorsko-Goranska Region).

Climate

The basic characteristic of the climate of the Istrian peninsula is given by the Mediterranean climate. Along the coast, it gradually changes towards the continent and it passes into continental, due to cold air circulating from the mountains and due to the vicinity of the Alps.

Vegetation

One third of the Istrian peninsula is covered with woods. Along the coast and on the islands prevail pine woods and macchia, decorated by trees of holm oak and strawberry-tree. A special feature of the Istrian vegetation is pedunculate oak next to the Mirna River, characteristically growing in the continental lowlands of Croatia.

Natural attractions

Among legally protected landscape in the Istrian Region are well-known natural reservations-national park Brijuni, nature park Učka, protected landscape  Limski Bay, the Motovunska Wood, park wood Zlatni Rt and ornithologic reservation Palud near Rovinj, park wood Šijana near Pula and the protected landscape  Kamenjak in the extreme south of Istria.

History

Situated in the direct proximity of the Western European civilization on one side and on the border of a different cultural milieu on the other, Istria has an enviable history, written at the crossroads of three large European cultures- Slavic, Roman, and German. Millennial political claims, incessant tensions, and the division of this small area among various states and political influences of dominant European powers decisively influenced the specificity of life and variety of cultural influences on the Istrian peninsula. Through the peninsula, since the ancient times, roads went from the Mediterranean to mid-Europe, or the area of Pannonia and the other way round. Through the tumultuous Istrian history, we mark frequent changes of rulers - from the Roman Empire and Byzantium, through the Frank State, the Aquileian Patriarchy, Venetian Republic, the Pazin County, Illyric Provinces, Austria, Italy, to Yugoslavia.  On this turbulent area, historic events were caused by frequent migrations and refugees, which also causes the changes of population, traditions, and cultures. Numerous nations left their traces in this area: the Liburni, the Histri (after whom the peninsula was named), the Greeks, the Celts, the Romans, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, the Langobards, the Croats, the Franks, the Venetians, the Austrians, the Italians ... 

Despite numerous historic difficulties, three nations survived until present times: the Croats, the Slovenes, and the Italians. Living in the area, together, their common destiny influenced the mutual tolerance, thus developing a harmonious co-existence.

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