The best time to visit northwestern Istria

Istria is the scattered blue of the sky and the sunny beach, the heady scent of the earth and the foggy valley, the cobblestone path and the green of the woods, the ancient folk dance balun and the jazz festival, the lonely lighthouse and the Hollywood film set.

Just sit in your car, and in a few hours, you will land on a different planet. Regardless of whether you're coming from Zagreb, Ljubljana, Vienna, or Milan, the traffic, the dull greyness and the obligations of the city won't be coming with you.

Istria is beautiful in every season, and each season has its own special quality.

SPRING

Istria in spring is the scent of flowers and the awakening earth

The weather is sunny and warm, and the summer crowds are still far off. The ideal time for photography. Enjoy long walks with your camera without having to fight with thousands of other visitors for the perfect shot. The light is sharp and contrasty, perfectly emphasising the stone Art Nouveau façades and old bell towers. It's an old-fashioned rhythm I catch and bring home with me, immortalised in the red rooftops and the blue sky.

The chlorophyll in the air is apparent in dishes with the full flavours of extra virgin olive oil and fresh asparagus. Fish, grilled boškarin beef, and chilled wine are the best refreshment after strolls or long bike rides. To top it off, a seaside stroll and a good shot of espresso are an excellent reminder of why I should come back as soon as possible. Because summer is an absolute must.

SUMMER

Istria in summer is a cocktail on the beach and thirty-odd languages on the slopes of Motovun

Let's go to the festival! Theatre, film, sardines, tomatoes, wine and brandy, tennis and cycling. The holiday never lasts as long as I want, because time flows faster in summer. The Motovun Film Festival (the most charming in all of Croatia), the theatre festival in Umag, the Arterija international visual arts festival in Novigrad, the Radini and San Rocco bike tours, the ATP Plava Laguna Croatia Open tennis tournament, the Parkfest music festival, Tomato Days... There's not enough time to list all the phenomenal events – and I haven't even started on the beaches.

It's definitely worthwhile to come to the beach for a break, dive into the blue Adriatic, sip a cocktail and watch a beautiful sunset, at the foot of a lighthouse, in somebody's arms.

AUTUMN

Istria in autumn is the gold of Malvasia and the aroma of truffles

Summer is over, time has slowed back down, and the sky has come back down to earth. Fog carries the intoxicating scent of truffles, announcing autumn's rich bounty. Istria is without a doubt the richest gastronomic region in Croatia, and autumn is the perfect time to sample its fruits. The wine list features world-class Malvasia, Teran and Muscat. The good wine is accompanied by good brandies and liqueurs. Bidding at the truffle auction in Livade is an attraction for serious investors.

In recent years, the swimming season has stretched well into October, and the bravest can be seen swimming even in November. Brief excursions, warm weather and delicious food make autumn my favourite Istrian season.

WINTER

Istria in winter is a holiday for the spirit and wellness for the body

Visiting Istria in the winter months is a trip through time, a return to the past. I love the homey atmosphere and the authentic life far from the year-round crowds. Truffle season is still on – around Christmas, they still hunt for aromatic black truffles and the remaining white ones. Winter is a time for chats over coffee, the flavour of cakes, and hot brandy. It snows little and rarely, and the warm Mediterranean air welcomes visitors from colder regions.

Author:

Nenad Vukušić

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