Istria Pula Arena

An Istrian Idyll

May 23, 2024

By David Owen

It always surprises me when people, while nodding sagely, ask: where exactly is Istria? Yet. I am a little glad that more travellers have not discovered this pearl hanging from the ear of Trieste.

Last week Tereza and I were leading 12 eclectic Kudu guests through this distinctive part of Croatia with its Italianate influences, 140 fresco locations and truffles to rival any in Europe, perhaps even Alba. From the seashore of Fažana, gazing out on Tito’s private islands of Brijuni, to the hilltop Venetian eyrie which is Motovun, we walked flower garlanded paths, gazed on 900 year old frescoes, wondered at the 1st century amphitheatre of Pula and imbibed the local grapes of Malvazia and Teran.

We visited a sympathetically excavated Roman castrum where the last Istrian chief fought his final battle and hunted truffles with a 30 year veteran of this niche occupation. We found orchids on the southernmost point of this peninsula and surveyed the oak trees which once supplied the galleys of Venice while wisps of clouds scudded below our hotel with its chestnut tree shaded terrace and a Palladian church next door.

We discussed ancient sites and even older myths, not forgetting the discovery of a fine example of Europe’s largest moth. We eat truffles outside on the battlements of Motovun and sea salt encased sea bass in Fažana.

Finally, we walked where Franz Joseph enjoyed his seaside forays and European royalty soothed their limbs in thalassotherapeutic baths before enjoying – Kudus not European royalty - a smorgasbord of shellfish and seafood.

Sounds good?

Next year’s dates are 5th - 12th May 2025 and we are looking forward to showing you our Istria.