9. Istria Highlights Tour from Rijeka or Pula
Hum is situated in the center of Istria with barely 20 inhabitants. Turn your trip to Hum into a beautiful story of Istrian small towns. This hidden part of Istria is extremely welcoming to visitors. According to the legend, Hum was built with the stones left over when giants were building towns in the river Mirna valley, an area in central Istria including the wonderful hill towns of Motovun, Roc, and Bale. Despite the small number of residents, Hum has preserved the ritual of Election of the Prefect for a Year. All the men from the parish gather at the Municipal Loggia (Town Hall) to elect the village superior by carving their votes into a wooden stick. Apart from being famous for being the smallest city in the world, Hum has recently become popular for Biska, which a brandy spiced with mistletoe and made according to an old recipe originating in Hum. Every year, at the end of October, the Grappa festival takes place here and hosts brandy producers from all over Istria.
In the north of Istria, located high above the Mirna River, is probably the most attractive and famous medieval town of Istria, Motovun. This fascinating site on top of a hill is a characteristic symbol of the interior of Istria. The bell tower, which is 13th-century Romanesque-Gothic, has a crown that is crenulated and dominates the center of the historic town from its position adjacent to St Stephen’s 17th-century parish church. In the center square stands the Romanesque Municipal Palace, which was Istria’s biggest secular building when it was built. Many other historical buildings surround it. Motovun’s forest which reaches down the Mirna River’s valley is particularly good for finding truffles, the alleged aphrodisiac malodorous fungus that grows underground. These white truffles of Istria, which are in season from September to December, are said to be as good as even the best French and Italian truffles. Vineyards surround the town from all sides and Istria’s finest wines including the red Teran and the white Malvasia are produced from the grapes of these vineyards. The whole locality is sprinkled with superb restaurants serving konobe.
The city of Labin is an old medieval town located on a 320-meter hill with the new part of the town below. The Old Labin is the best preserved acropolis in Istria. Apart from many cultural and historical monuments, Labin is a city of artists. There are some 30 artists living and working there as well as several galleries. In nearby Dubrova, there is the Sculpture Par where International Sculptors Symposium have taken place for the past 40 years. In the summer, the old center is taken over by the Art Republic, which is a combination of music, performance, and fine arts. The town gates of St Flor, built in 1587, lead to the old town. There is also a 17th-century tower in the town offering a magnificent view.