Four of my friends and I set out on a journey through Central Istria to towns many people would never consider visiting unless there’s some sort of festival going on. What follows is brief summary of our beautiful trip, all ground covered in just one day.
Our first stop. It was super foggy when we set out in the morning. We trekked through the medieval city of Dvigrad, which slowly but surely woke us all up. Dvigrad was inhabited up until the plague wiped out most of its citizens. It’s got an interesting history, well-preserved ruins, and is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic.
Our second stop. Most of what I had seen of Pazin before our road trip was its grungy bus stop filled with smoking teenagers waiting for their ride home. Not the most ideal image in the world, but I figured we should give it a second chance and I’m glad we did.
Though Pazin is considered an industrial town, it has beautiful natural landscape including a river, cascades, and little waterfalls. Additionally, it’s famous for its cave, which inspired Dante when he was writing his Inferno and is apparently what he based his description of hell off of.
To me the cave itself isn’t particularly “hellish” but I can certainly understand the inspiration—ragged cliff rocks and spidery trees hug both sides of the wild riverbed. Pazin also has a really nice castle that has been turned into a museum. My favorite part of the museum? The torture pit. And yes, it’s actually a pit. You gotta climb down a bunch of stairs to get to the little square chamber.
Stop number three. This was probably my favorite stop aside from Kotli, which I’ll get to later. Everyone else judged me and my choice to make us stop in Draguc, which is essentially in the middle of nowhere, like many of the towns on our trip. But I found the setting inspirational. It’s quiet, sure, but the view is spectacular and there are cats EVERYWHERE. I adore cats so that was enough to win me over. And while people were scarce, I didn’t mind too much because it was just nice to walk around this little town out on its own small cliff. I’d love to go back, rent an apartment, and get some writing done. It’s solitary perfection for writers.
After Draguc and on our way to see Hum, we stumbled upon the adorably small town of Kotli, which I consider to be the hidden gem of Istria. I have no idea how many homes the town actually houses but it looked to be around six and so when I mean small, I’m not joking. But, don’t let its teeny size fool you. The town’s waterfall and cliff-top restaurant will win you over with just one look. So do yourself a favor, grab some friends and get your butt to this delightful place for a tranquil afternoon in the middle of nowhere.
Our fifth stop and the world’s smallest town! Hum was absolutely adorable. Everything was small there—even the rental apartments! The view, which seems to be a running trend in the Central Istrian towns we visited, was truly great. While the town is normally fairly quiet most days, it does hold two yearly festivals that you wouldn’t think would have found a home there: one dedicated to rakija, Croatia’s brandy, and the other, correct me if I’m wrong, that celebrates techno music. Us road trippers thought the town should combine those two festivals into one to really pack a festive punch.
After Hum, we made our way to Buzet, a city famous for its truffles and its hill climb car races. Again, this Croatian town has a charming view of the surrounding land. Buzet’s Old Town is equally delightful. Unfortunately, when we arrived pretty much all the shops and restaurants were closed for the day but I am totally up for a return trip to try out the local truffle cuisine.
The last stop of the day. I really enjoyed Groznjan, and it was a favorite stop for most of my friends. We arrived near dusk but still got the chance to get ourselves acquainted with the town’s artsy nooks and crannies.
Groznjan is a well-known artist colony in Istria and there is practically a gallery or two or three in almost every street. We walked through its old cobblestone streets for a bit then nestled ourselves in for some coffee and kakao before heading back to Rovinj.
All in all I had a fantastic time during our little tour through Central Istria and I can’t wait for the Istrian adventures that lie ahead of us this spring!