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THE LAND OF TRUFFLES, WINE AND BREATH-TAKING SUNSETS!

MOTOVUN, Croatia

February 14, 2017

Romantic weekend getaway? Or gourmet trip? What place comes to mind? Overcrowded with tourists Paris? Or another overrated and busy - Venice? Gorgeous but already traditional Prague? Or noisy Rome..?

Forget all you ever knew about romance, great food and magical evenings - forget the stereotypes and think outside the box - we are heading to the Croatian gem - Motovun!

Most really cool and amazing things happen in our life by chance, so did Motovun. Motovun was discovered by a complete fate. Being on a massive road trip this past summer through Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia, on one of the perfect and sunny mornings while on Croatian coast, me and my friend were bickering over the place we should go see next.

Luckily it was Thursday, just one day before the exhausted office-workers were about to head down to the coast for a weekend on the beach. Hence, there were literally NO hotels available anywhere by the sea. And since we do not book hotels in advance, like who does that on a road trip? We had to move elsewhere.

Our flight was scheduled from Venice still with a few days to go, so we would need to start rolling into that direction anyway ... we decided to explore Istria region.  I entered Pula with 100 km radius around it into booking.com, and began sorting through those few available options by the ratings.  Rated as "fabulous" Villa Borgo (which truly turned out to be fabulous) - was booked!

Driving up to Motovun, and by "up" I mean literally up to the centre of Istria, and up-up-up the hill, more specific it is located 270 metres above the sea level.  Motovun is tiny, 32 sq km, with total population of the village of 531 people. The village's history goes back to times even before Roman Empire (on the walls you can find gravestones of inhabitants from the 1st century). That is one minuscule town with very rich history.

Motovun... mmm just the sound of it makes me close my eyes and give a sigh of bliss. A tiny, microscopic and dreamy village on the top of the hill.  You can drive up almost all the way to the very top, leave your car and climb the last kilometre or so - trust me it is worth it every step of the way.

The absence of cars makes up in abundance of fresh air, which will make your head pleasantly spin when you open your window in the morning and take full lungs of breath in, while enjoying the view of sunrise over the valley. The lack of cars means different pace of life here - it is sloooow... Slow not as lazy, but as relaxed. Relaxed to enjoy waking up, having a cup of coffee on a terrace, strolling around town before tourists arrive, and relaxed evenings with a bottle of local red wine, plate of truffle pasta and unforgettable sunsets.  There are also plenty to do and see at easy pace, like the landmarks and spas, neighboring wineries or a short drive to the sea.

Food here is worth a separate story. This region is famous for its truffles, not only traditional black ones, but also for a rare white ones. Everything is cooked here with truffles. Truffles are sold in every shop, and are one of the best souvenirs to bring back home to prolong the tastes and smells of vacation for a little while longer.  The whole town is soaking in sensational yet soft aroma of truffles in the evenings.

Every October Motovun hosts Truffle Festival, this is the time when you can go for a white truffles hunt in the local forest.  Of course you will be accompanied with a guide and trained dogs.  Throughout the year there are many different other events and festivals (Motovun is also famous for its Film Festival which takes place in July.). The atmosphere is always festive here ... a place one must put on future agenda as once in the lifetime experience.

The local wine is right up to par with the food. Perfect pairing.  We were very pleasantly surprised of the quality of wines here, seriously if you are in this region, forget foreign wines, enjoy local, as those house wines you get here in every tiny restaurant you won't be able to get back home or anywhere else - they are so delicious. Simple or complex, light or heavy, velvety on the edges reds and refreshing and aromatic whites are plentiful to choose from and please any palate.

Separate praise goes to local bubbly, oh my, that was a catch. We hunted for a bottle entire evening  (remember there are no supermarkets in the village) and finally in one of the wine shops under the restaurant the owner found one lonely, forgotten bottle of local bubbly for us, and I must say those were impressive bubbles. Mmmm...bubbles...

Beside gourmet tourist attraction on its own,  the town is extremely romantic.

So, have I convinced you this is the place to check out? Motovun has it all - great weather, plenty of sun, nearby sea, amazing food, views, people and the energy of the town can not be compared with anything else! Despite the fact that it's been a place of pilgrimage of many tourists (those who are being brought in by big busses to the bottom of the hill in the mornings and taken back in the evenings) this place have kept its unique flavour, senses and that little something in the air that make up the memories which warm up your soul back at home.

Inhale… feel sweet air mixed with love, wine and truffles? This is your destination.

- by Jana Belugina