Presencing retreat in Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

Tatjana Krizmanic

There are three regions in the Mediterranean belt renowned worldwide for their unique blend of beauty, culture and history: Provence, Tuscany and Istria. Istria, the least explored of the three, is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. Veiled in myth and mystery, the ancient Romans named it “Terra Magica”, meaning Magical Land. Here are just some of its wonders, hidden in plain sight:

Dirt Covers Treasure – Literally. The forest soil hides white and black variations of truffles. Istria is the world truffle centre, where the largest truffle in the world has been discovered and recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

The Land of the Liquid Gold – according to one of the most relevant European olive oil guides, Flos Olei, Istria is the best olive oil region of the world.

A gourmet paradise – home of celebrity master chefs and food-trendsetters well established and known amongst gourmets, especially in Italy, Austria and Germany. The perfect way to completely feel the wealth of delicious flavors and scents of Istria is by stepping inside any of the abundant Istrian restaurants and taverns, tasting what the culinary treasures of the Istrian region are truly all about.

Land of Giants, Fairies and… Vampires. Some 240 years before Bram Stoker put his Count Dracula to paper, the villagers of Kringa already had to deal with Jure Grando. Giant Veli Jože became a hero and role model for his dedication to freedom and justice. Istrian fairies and leprechauns, here known as shiggy-miggy still roam around…

A UNESCO World Heritage site, The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary (Euphrasius Basilica) is an excellent example of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region. There are many stories about the significance of the building, especially its breath-taking mosaic.

500 kilometer long coastline offers a great variety of beaches, from the modern urban beaches, sandy beaches of Medulin, to small, hidden embayments.

Inspiration for Literature Icons, Istra inspired many literature great, with Dante Alighieri, Jules Verne and James Joyce among perhaps the best known. Adventurous Verne used the Pazin fort and the deep pit nearby as a central location for one of his novels.

Ancient, Medieval, Imperial and Royal Istria. In the 11th century BC Istria was inhabited by the Histri – prehistoric Illyrian tribe after whom Istria was named. Romans conquered Histri and took power of the Istria peninsula in 178 BC. They established the port of Pietas Iulia (modern Pula), built its Forum and Amphitheater – among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the World. The first forts on the Istrian peninsula were erected over 3,000 years ago and dozens of them from the time of Austro-Hungarian Empire are very well preserved. Empress Sissy laid the founding stone of the shipyard in Pula and the glass and steel architectural wonder of the time – city market – was built in the same style as Eiffel tower in Paris.

In short – Istria is a place where you can drink a shot of an ancient druid’s elixir, visit the world’s smallest city, feast in gourmet delicacies and admire Roman heritage.


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