We caught up with Marko, our go-to tour guide in Istria. The heart-shaped peninsula is located in the north-west of Croatia and is ideal for those who may have already seen the must-visit Dalmatian sites of Dubrovnik and the islands. The Istrian region is famous for truffles, wine and jaw-dropping scenery. Read on to discover Marko’s recommendations for a great visit to Istria.
Marko’s Secrets of Istria
How did you become a guide?
My grandmother said that I speak languages very well and told me I should study the guiding license at university. The day after I got my license, my grandma hooked me up with a local agency and got me a job. It’s her fault, I guess 🙂
Why do clients love visiting Istria?
They love it because it’s less crowded than Dalmatia. It’s not yet fallen into the hands of the mass-tourism-devil. It has world-class olive oils, fantastic wines and an exciting Konoba (Istrian for “trattoria”) food scene. Did I mention that Italians buy truffles from Istria?
What’s your favorite town in Istria and why?
Motovun! I got married there.
Describe the perfect day tour for foodies.
I’d start by taking them sightseeing in Motovun. It’s a ancient town perched on top of a hill, like fairytale fortress. From the top you can see the expanse of the surrounding forest. Then we’d do a white truffle-tasting paired with Teranino (sweet red wine liqueur). I’d take them for lunch at my favorite Konoba near Motovun to eat the best Ravioli and Tagliatelle in the world before going to a winery run by a family I know to taste Malvazija and Motovun Teran which are Croatia’s famous grapes, both local to the area.
Istria is stone’s throw from the Italian border, so our heritage is closely intertwined with north-east Italy. The area is a unique mix of Croatian and Italian culture which will come across in food, wine and language.
What would you suggest for an active family visiting Istria?
Istria has super popular hiking and cycling path called “Parenzana”. In the past, it was a narrow gauge train track that connected Trieste with Poreč via all the tiny villages in Istria. Today, it is the most-visited active travel track in Croatia. Amazing views of Istria’s hillsides, small olive oil and wine producers and authentic eateries serving delicious food are around every corner. That would be definitely my choice if I went with my family.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, we are building a small Konoba ourselves which is not a typical restaurant but a culinary experience workshop in Opatija. It will be ready latest end of June. There, we will be offering our finest selections of all Croatian wines, pasta and Gnocchi workshops with the local specialists, as well as organizing private lunch or dinner for small groups or individuals. Stay tuned!
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