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By: Zdenko Kahlina
MOTOVUN, is a small town in the central part of Istria, in the southern part of the Mirna river valley, 21 km southeast of Buje; elevation 277 m; population 590. Chief occupations include farming, wine production and livestock breeding. Situated on the regional road.
Last summer Vera and I came for a one day visit, with Vera’s cousin who lives in Labin (Istria), only 1 hour away with the car. Last time I was in Motovun, was back in the 60s, when I was still racing bike. In the junior stage race “Giro d’ Istria” they made us climb all the way to the top of old town Motovun.
Approaching Motovun from the Istrian coast, this small hilltop village may seem as a vision. But it has nothing to do with a vision. It is a certainly the most provocative and attractive town of Istrian interior. It’s only 25 kilometers northeast of Porec on the road to Buzet.
Motovun is a representative example of the Istrian settlements of an acropolitan aspect and one of the most frequently visited excursion centres of central Istria. Its attraction consists in the mediaeval ambience (the walls in the form of the ring and two semi-rings) and the view on the vineyards and Motovun Forest, which belongs to the category of forest parks.
Motovun is an ideal excursion centre including excellent offer, attractive to tourists who spend their summer holidays at the western and eastern coastline of Istria. The town has a hotel and several catering establishments.
The surroundings offer walking through Motovun Forest, with truffles – a gourmet delicacy, or through the vineyards covering the south-western slopes of the hills, as well as hunting and cycling. This wine-growing region produces wines such as Motovun terrano, pinot and malmsey. In the part of the town called Kanal the cattle fair has been held ever since 1903 up to the present, every third Monday in the month.
There is a legend referring to Motovun about the giant Veli Joze, who was immortalized in Vladimir Nazor’s short story.
Visiting this town sitting on a hill some 227m above sea level will become a trip to the past when this town was a part of Venice. Evidence of the Venetian influence is present everywhere from the city gate, late Renaissance church of St.Stephan to Municipal Palace.
Round the village you can see vineyards that create the famous Teran and Malvasija wine and the forest are the places where you can find white and black truffles (tartufi).
Dream or reality
If you are in Istria last week of July or the beginning of August, I highly advice to visit International Film Festival.
During the 5 days of festival , more than 60 film are shown at five different locations with 1500 available seats. Besides the festival you can visit same exhibitions and concerts. In this period more than 30.000 persons are present in this small village. There is only one hotel in the town – hotel Kastel.
Boutique Hotel Kastel in the very center is really something different… a small family hotel, at the very top of a 277 meters high hill of the Istrian city, in a reconstructed Medieval palace.
Home made products of “rakija” – Istrian brandy
Autumn and winter offer Motovun, inhabitants of Motovun and their guests an abundance of nature’s gifts. This is the season when the renowned white truffles are gathered from the Motovun forest and when the bounty from the Motovun vineyards is transformed into the best Istrian wines, teran and malvasia.
Throughout the whole month of October, in the whole Mirna valley – in Opatija, the Istrian thermal springs, Gradinje and Motovun – the festivities of the “Days of truffles” are held. During these days it is a special experience tasting dishes made from freshly picked truffles, these noble, tasty aphrodisiac mushrooms, including many other programs. Along with the month long “Days of truffles” festivities, Motovun, in the first weekend in November, plays host to the “Festival of balloons, wine and truffles”, a manifestation whose gastronomic pleasures are enriched with an air of adventure.
FRESH WHITE TRUFFLE
White truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) is the biggest and the most respected sort of truffles, its price on the market varies from hour to hour. It is a truffle of yellow-brown, green or grey-green colour. Its aroma is more intensive and stronger than aroma of the other sorts of truffles and depends on the plant with which it is living in symbiosis.
It is taken out in the period from October till the end of December (the white truffle season) and then it can be bought fresh. The most famous sites of white truffles are in Istria near the village Livade, more exactly in Motovun woods and in the valley of the river Mirna. This truffle needs special climate, quality of soil and certain plants with which it lives in symbiosis. It grows under the ground and there is no visible stalk on the surface. It is excavated from the depth of 10-15 cm, and searched for by the specially trained dogs. The size of the white truffle varies from the size of a cherry to the size of an apple.
The biggest truffle ever found weighed 1,310 kg. Mr. Giancarlo Zigante found it on November 2nd, 1999 near Buje and it has entered into the Guinness book of records.
FRESH BLACK TRUFFLE
The best-known sites in Croatia are those in Istria near the village Livade. For this as for the other mushrooms of the truffle family, it is characteristic that it grows under the ground without any visible stalk and in symbiosis with another plant. The season of black truffle lasts from May till November and then you can get it fresh.
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Tags: Summer 2009