The luscious Motovun Forest tickles the imagination not only because of its soil in which the peculiar association of truffles and the roots of proud oaks takes place.
The legend of the Istrian giant Veli Jože
The forest is also linked to tales of Veli Jože, an Istrian giant that legend says lived near Motovun. The legend inspired the Croatian writer Vladimir Nazor to write a story entitled Veli Jože. In one of the story’s episodes, the giants use the forest’s oak trees as brooms to sweep away the enemy in a battle against knights and their army.
Throughout history, many special laws were written, and committees founded, to ensure protection for Motovun Forest. The Venetian Republic built canals to regulate water supply to the forest, whose massive trees were used to build many Venetian palaces.
About the Motovun Woods
Motovun Forest is a remnant of native lowland forests called longoze. These are ecosystems of hardwood, deciduous forests that emerged from the soil of river valleys and plains of the Mediterranean littoral deposited by rivers flowing to the sea.
In the past, longoze could also be found in the Neretva valley of Croatia, and in the Po and Rhone valleys. Today, however, they have been preserved in only two places in Europe other than Istria – the Black Sea and Skadarsko Lake.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Motovun Forest is an extraordinary cultural and historical monument, an inspiration to artists and gourmets, and a favourite site of lovers of nature and outdoors activities. Motovun Forest is home to a very rare species of brown frog and a large number of plant species, one of which is the very rare Italian clematis (Clematis viticella). Known as trtor in Istria, it is easy to recognise by its lovely violet blossoms.