The Area We Live In
Our village is small (but has four amazing restaurants, Nežić, Tončić, Gardina and Medica) – however, we are not isolated. We are surrounded by vineyards, hilltop towns and other fabulous restaurants slightly further afield, such as Konoba Oprtalj, Stari Podrum, San Mauro and Rondo. Our nearest town is medieval Oprtalj and it is, quite simply, stunning. There are two excellent restaurants, a newly opened wine bar, a cash point machine, a post office, a mini market, a number of small galleries, an antique shop, a gift/interiors shop and a beautiful Venetian Loggia.
The nearest large supermarkets are in Buje and Buzet, with more choice a little further towards the coast in Umag, approximately 35 minutes away. We often travel to Koper in Slovenia or Trieste in Italy to shop – both are accessible in around 40 minutes. Although this may seem a long journey, once you switch into the Istrian way of living, you’ll soon realise that driving to supermarkets becomes a pleasure, as you wind your way through valleys and vineyards and follow the coastline.
There are many local wineries where you can take your bottles and fill up – wine bought this way is generally of excellent quality and inexpensive. As a rough guide, we can currently buy five litres of wine from our nearest winery and pay 75 Kuna (approximately £9.50 / €11). Honey and olive oil are also readily available.
We inevitably drive a lot more than we did back in the UK, but you very quickly adapt to this, simply because everyone does.
We have been welcomed into our new way of life in the most heart-warming way. Croatian people are well renowned for their kindness and we have experienced this first hand. On the day all of our belongings arrived from England, neighbours helped us and this has continued to this day. We have been gifted potatoes and runner beans and courgettes and cherries and eggs and figs and kiwi fruit. We’ve been given wine from neighbours who make their own.
We have developed a strong network of people who we now call friends and are always there to help when needed.
We also have a fabulous go-to-guy who has worked with us on the house, and who has himself, a fantastic network of trusted tradespeople. The local restaurant owner introduced us to the people we bought our cars from. Another local builder, whose brother is a policeman, helped us to initially start to work out how we could make ourselves “legal”. A local shop owner introduced us to our go-to-guy – and from this meeting, we’ve made a whole new circle of friends.
The local telecoms guy is at the end of a phone if we ever need Internet assistance. And we buy our olive oil from him.
Our solicitor, who is a Manchester music and European football aficionado, has become a great friend and we meet up with him socially. Along with our builder (go-to-guy), he’s someone we would definitely introduce the new owners of our home to.
So, yes – we can’t deny that where we live now is small, compared to where we lived back in the UK. But, we never feel isolated or lonely because we are surrounded by beauty and good, trustworthy people, who are always there for us.
Cycling – Istria is criss-crossed with cycling trails and paths – and the famous Parenzana railway track, which between 1902 and 1935 was the key route for the transportation of agricultural products in northwestern Istria, connecting the ports of Poreč and Trieste. The route is 123kms and if you are feeling fit and want to do the whole length of it, remember your passport as you’ll cross from Croatia into Slovenia (where you still need to show documents at the border) and on into Italy. For the more serious cyclist, this website Komoot – is a great go-to guide for getting around (and up and down) Istria, on two wheels. For a more sedate cycle, the promenades of Rovinj, Pula, Poreč, Umag and Novigrad are perfect – nothing quite beats cycling with the Adriatic to your side.
Walking – Istria is perfect to explore on foot – from sedate walks alongside sunflower fields and vineyards to coastal paths to quite challenging uphill routes, you will always find something utterly delightful to discover.
Skiing & Mountain Sports – The house is well located to access main roads to the Julian Alps in Slovenia and the Dolomites of Italy. A little further north (in well under 5 hours) you can be in the more southerly ski resorts in Austria.
Swimming- Being a peninsula, surrounded by the sea, swimming opportunities are abundant. Wild swimmers tend to converge on the southern part of the peninsula, and to the west, there are literally hundreds of coves and bays – and you can almost guarantee a secluded spot to yourself, even in the height of summer. Coastal towns such as Rovinj, have bathing platforms and steps down into the sea – but you could be very Istrian/Italian and just lay your towel down on the rocks…
Golfing – The Golf Club Adriatic is a picturesque 18-hole Championship golf course situated right next to the Adriatic Sea, in the north.
Wineries – Istria is a prolific and award-winning wine region, offered compared to Tuscany and Umbria. We are surrounded by spectacular wineries, including Kozlović, Fakin, Veralda, Roxanich, Benvenuti, Ipša and Arman, to name just a few.