Last night we created the plan for a MTB ride around the hills in Motovun. There should be some beautiful tracks following the wine roads of this area. We took the road to this area and searched for a place to park the car. We decided to park at the bottom of the hill the town is built on.
I think many people compare Istria to Tuscany, and the hillside town from Motovun is a perfect example from villages you can find in Tuscany. Motovun is on top of a hill located at the river called Mirna. This area is probably known better among foodies because the forests are full of this hidden treasure called truffles. The forests are extremely fertile, so there is a perfect habitat for the truffle to grow under the ground at the roots of the many trees here (hey were in a forest!). with special trained dogs they will search for them every day.
Motovun was even in the Guinnes book of records for the largest white truffle ever found in the world. Back in 1999 Giancarlo Zigante found a white truffle from 19.5 cm long, 12.4cm wide and 13.5cm tall. The truffle did weigh 1.31kg with an value from approx. $5000 during that time. Giancarlo never sold it abroad but decided to sell it locally. The reason that many foodies from all over the world would come to this little hillside village. Nowadays the record is since 2014 owned by Sabatino Tartufi.
Back to Motovun, this is a really beautiful medieval village where nowadays only live 500 inhabitants. In Motovun you’ll find a few galleries, restaurants, souvenir shops, some bars and restaurants and a hotel. The area around Motovun is also known for its outstanding quality of olive oil. There are two top producers of olive oil active in this area Giancarlo Zigante en Klaudio Ipsa
Oh wait we were here for the MTB trails through the area… Well we decided to pick the trail 602 called the fruit trail. We hoped to see some fruits left in the area! But no luck for us, the fruits where already picked. So there was no fruit to taste while riding. But once we started our ride we forgot this fact soon enough, the trails where meandering through the landscape. We only found there weren’t to many MTB trail signs for this route, so we had to find every now and then our way along the route. But hey that is part of the adventure. Too bad I found out after our holiday that there is also a real adventure trail called Motovun East.
After our ride meandering through the fields and forests over the hills surrounding Motovun, we ended up for the last climb of the day. Till the city center, where a car can’t ride our bikes will get there yeah! The old city walls are quite good preserved but before you get there you will enter the small streets following a sort of Fibonacci Spiral shape till the top. All the houses are spread across the hill but are connected but the three parts are connected by the city walls and towers. Because those walls are well preserved you can walk on top of them using them as a footbridge. The moment you reach the city center you will see the bell tower from the church Sveti Stefan (St. Stephen).
And again, we found a legendary tale! The tale is about a giant, who has lived once a long time ago in the area were visiting. It is the story about Big Joseph. This is a helpful and kind-hearted giant who is living in the hills surrounding Motovun. The giant served the landlords and did help the workers in the field. Joseph did do all his duties till one day they took him away from Motovun on a ship to Venice. At sea the ship did sink, but Joseph did save himself. On the ship there was a rower (kept as a prisoner) and he was a giant to just like Joseph. Before he died, he told Joseph that he should never allow to anybody to be his master and he should have the life of a free man. Joseph decided to listen to this advice. He and some other giants fled into the hills where they did live happy working and digging. So it happened on a day they dug op some pieces of gold. The news spread and it didn’t take long before the first landlords arrived to “help” them digging. The landlords went home rich, but after they landlords left the giantd had a big fight because of their greed. Joseph was angry, that he got another fight for everything he had done. He set a shed on fire and the other giants did run after him. Joseph found refuge by Civetta (the leader of the serves at that time), and he gave Joseph the best piece of land (Motovun). While Joseph did return, at the gate of Motovun he remembered the wise words from the giant rower. He decided to be a free man instead of a Serve and left the area of Motovun, never to be seen again.
Didn’t mention it yet but Motovun is also on the tentative Unesco World Heritage list. I hope they will keep it this way because it would be a shame if mass-tourism found its way up till here like on the coast and the green area will be spoiled with hotels and villas for rent. Because let’s be honest, there is nothing better than sit on the walls having a drink and enjoying the view!?
Just like Motovun the people from Venice have a history here. Actually, still bonded by a ferry to Venice nowadays. Rovinj was an island back in time, but they connected it to the mainland of Croatia in 1763. We decided to ride our bikes through this Romantic city, but for doing that we had to wait till the end of the day otherwise this little town is so crowded you wouldn’t even think riding a bike through these narrow and steep streets and stairs. People call it the most romantic city in Croatia, and I can see why they would call it like that. I can imagine why they would call it like this. Lots of colorful houses, small streets, plenty of good food and small bays and islands everywhere.
The historic center is forbidden for cars, but not for bikes! You can access the old town by the gate of Balbi. This gate is built by Venetians in 1680. In the thirteenth century this was the first town under Venetian control. In the gate you can find the Lion of Marcus an icon of the Ventians. There was also one in Motovun, but the sign there showed a lion in a different way, meaning that they got this city under control by a fight.
When you pass the gate, you’ll find out that Rovinj is not a city with many epic sightseeing’s. But this isn’t a bad thing, because the city isn’t boring at all! Rovinj is just a typical old town where you can wander for hours. I think you can wander around here for hours, finding some nice shops, or a well-hidden restaurant with authentic recipes and candle lights like you see in the movies!
The church is the end-point off our way to the top, they build this church in 1736 and is since they finished it dominating the sky for your viewing pleasure. IT does look like a bit like the San Marco in Venice but that might not surprise anyone because the Venetians had the power here in town during that age. The bell tower you can access during the day, for us it was already closed. But it should deliver some amazing views over the sea and the old town I assume!
From the church we followed our path down to the harbor, and we arrived here during sunset. You’ll also find some natural pools here where the locals swim by the beautiful light of the sunset.
Another thing I wanted to achieve before we would hit the roads again back home was spending time on the waters of the Adriatic Sea. Still no sign at all of the promised wind, so I spoke to some local surfers hoping that they would know another windy spot in the area. But none of the surfspots would receive some surfable winds except for the day we had to leave to return home… But lucky for us we brought our sups, so we paddled out for a touristic paddle session along the shores of the coastline around the campsite.
The rest was only relaxing and riding our bike along the coastline, taking a picture here and there, flying the drone, eat some snacks, enjoying sunsets, and even some fireworks. Before we knew it was time to go home.
While driving home we found a restaurant in Germany with a nice view to enjoy a simple dinner. After dinner our trip had one last surprise for us while driving, the sunset showed us a last burst of colors before we would enter the night yeah!
I hope you enjoyed our trip as much as we did through Slovenia and Croatia. We’ve been driving around for two weeks. This is too short to discover these two beautiful countries properly. So we’ll be back Slovenia and Croatia, see you next time!
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