I have not yet heard of anyone returning from Istria without butterflies in their stomach, that feeling you get when you are close to someone or something you admire. Some fall in love with Istria’s wines, some with its pastas and truffles, while others even fall in love with the smell of fresh-mowed grass or the shade of the hackberry tree. This is also the perfect backdrop for great love affairs. An entire Istrian village that mysteriously disappeared in the 18th century was known as “the town of lovers”. It is said that a special fragrance still lingers among the ruins of Dvigrad to this very day, encouraging all those in search of true love.
Another such mystical place is the lighthouse at Savudrija, the oldest lighthouse on the Adriatic coast. It was built in 1818 by Count Metternich of Austria-Hungary, as a token of his affection for a Croatian noble woman. Legend has it that he fell in love with her during a ball in Vienna, and then started to build the lighthouse in her honour. Unfortunately, the noble woman died of disease before it was completed. After her death, the count never visited the place again. The family living there now says that during stormy weather you can still hear his desperate footsteps, as he searches for his beloved.
A little less mystical but just as romantic are the two small towns of Brtonigla and Grožnjan situated on hills near Umag. From these hills, you can cast your eyes across the vineyards all the way to the sea. A simple walk through the ruins of old castles can transport you back to a time when people died for love or from love. For a truly romantic experience, visit the San Rocco Hotel in Brtonigla, and enjoy a wellness vacation for two. On the other hand, if you find the sound of the sea to be more romantic, try out the excellent massages for couples at Hotel Sol Coral in Umag. And, even if you are single, do not despair. Sometimes in Istria, you might find love hiding in a glass of Teran or Malvasia. Just free your senses, and butterflies will start to flutter when you least expect them to!