Read, Write, Run, Roam

The Fairy Tales, Tastes and Truffles of Motovun, Croatia


Motovun is the stuff of fairy tales. It appears almost out of nowhere: a turn on a highway suddenly reveals the white hilltop city lording over olive groves, vineyards, and truffle patches. It’s Disneyland for wine-swilling, food-loving adults. Obivously I had to go there.

I drove there with my latest partners in crime: Zločin, aka “Felony”–she knows why–and Lingvista, or Linguist, because she used the same five Serbian/Croatian words in every conversation. If you want strangers to like you, bring along a friend to likes to tell everyone “Volim te.” They were the perfect duo for my latest adventure.

Our final destination was Rovinj, but we stopped in Motovun at the advice of a Croatian friend, bolstered by an Italian man’s claim that  Istria, the region of both Rovinj and Motovan, was “better than Tuscany.” As we walked around the old city, we understood the hype. It was a small town filled with gorgeous views, wine stores, truffle specialists and lovely restaurants. Though my guidebook claimed that it was often overrun with tourists in high season, we had the area practically to ourselves.

Motovun isn’t just the stuff of RHOB fairy tales. It’s also the setting of a famous Croatian fairy tale about a giant named Veli Jože. Based on my sketchy language skills, he was a giant who lived in Motovun and tried to (1) be a free man, (2) stop other giants from being greedy with their newfound gold stash, and (3) possibly help the people of Motovun, who didn’t want to feed the giants but were his friend. Obviously my translating skills need serious work. Here’s an English summary that may not be any better…

Unfortunately we weren’t able to eat at some of the finer dining establishments because we arrived after two and before six pm. Still, we were able to get good pizza and great truffle pasta at a place with a view of the valley below us. The local wine was delicious but a bit of a mystery. Upon our inquiry we were only told that it was “white.” I figured it was malvazija wine, since the other local specialty wines are white muscatel (a distinctive taste) and teran, a red wine.

We tried to pick up a similar bottle in the local stores but were disappointed with the high prices and minimal selection. Fortunately we found a small shop on the outskirts of town that offered local prices and atmosphere. After Lingvista picked up enough fruit for a small army, we grabbed an edible souvenir for our evening in Rovinj. Cinderella may have received a glass slipper, but RHOB lucked out with a glass of Istrian white. That’s my kind of fairy tale.

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2 responses

  1. Anonymous

    Motovun is lovely, but to me doesn’t compare to Grožnjan, a similar walled hilltop town in Istria. An afternoon eating five courses of truffle dishes and drinking Graševina in the sunny main courtyard there is my idea of a fairytale.

    August 23, 2011 at 3:21 am

  2. Sounds amazing! I would definitely return to Istria. I’d like to go there for at least a week to properly explore, sun, and eat my way around the region.

    August 23, 2011 at 5:32 pm

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