The Istrian region of Croatia and the small town of Livade in particular, which is a three-hour drive from Zagreb. I was attending a food styling, photography and truffle foraging workshop with a group of food bloggers known as First We Eat. During the workshop I explored the region from a food perspective, enriching myself with the local cuisine & agriculture all whilst partaking in food photography and styling lessons. I flew Lufthansa to Zagreb and hired a driver & car for the drive to Villa Sancta Maria.
WHERE TO STAY
I stayed in Villa Sancta Maria (http://villa-sanctamaria-motovun.com) which was a beautiful 6 bedroom villa perched on a mountainside overlooking the never-ending valleys.
Villa Sancta Maria was more of a small luxury lodging rather than a hotel. The villa is made up of 6 bedrooms/5 bathrooms, with a beautiful fully equipped kitchen, swimming pool & Jacuzzi. There is a very eclectic & bohemian feel to the interiors of the villa with stunning artwork and statement rustic furniture. The property is absolutely lush with its own vegetable garden, olive & lemon trees and an abundance of fragrant herbs all over the grounds. Every evening we would go out into the garden and pick our vegetables straight from the earth to use in cooking our dinner. There is also a private chef for hire if necessary. The villa is surrounded by beautiful farmland, vineyards, and below the mountain sits the charming little “truffle town” of Livade all in walking distance.
This Istrian region of Croatia is known for its wine, honey, cheese, olive oil & truffle. It’s meant for the true gourmand and food lover. There are many little towns that make up the region each holding its special charm and character. Spend your days visiting different vineyards, olive oil farms & the local beekeeper for a taste of the best honey you’ve ever had.
A guided excursion into the Motovun forest for truffle foraging is a must do. Livade is a true truffle town with even a truffle stone monument planted in the center roundabout of town. The Motovun Forest is the home of these prized jewels where they are found deep under the soil near the roots of oak trees. The Mirna River valley runs through the forest creating a specific type of humidity and moisture that is ideal for truffle cultivation. Truffle hunters are available for hire for tourists who wish to forage and explore the forest.
A drive out to the tiny town of Hum is a must-do. It’s a medieval stone village also known as the smallest town in the world! Spend a couple of hours walking through the narrow alleys exploring all the little shops selling jam, honey and olive oil galore.
Buje is another town worth spending a couple of hours. It has a little more energy than the sleepier farm towns with bustling taverns and sidewalk cafes. Walk up to the top of the Bell Tower where on a clear day you can see Slovenia, Italy, Austria & Croatia in one view.
The climate is quite similar to the Mediterranean so summers can be quite warm & dry while winters are comfortable. The vibe of the whole region is very relaxed and rustic, so it’s all about the casual outfits. Bring comfortable sneakers for walking up and down all the steep inclines. For the truffle foraging expedition pack a pair of rain boots, the forest floor is very muddy. Don’t forget the bug spray, it will be a lifesaver!
The best time to visit the region is during the peak truffle season, which is from September to November. During this time town of Livade holds a truffle festival called Zigante Truffle Days. The gastronomic fair hosts local vendors who sell plenty of local products including jams, pasta, olive oils, wine and cheese.
THINGS TO LIVE WITHOUT (IMPORTANT TIPS)
The region is mostly rural countryside so be prepared to be without everyday modern conveniences.
The truffle is sold here for much less than in France & Italy so make sure to leave room in your suitcase to bring some goodies back home.
Leave your laptop at home, Wi-Fi wasn’t widely available. Instead take advantage of the fresh air and beautiful scenery, it’s truly one of the most picturesque places I’ve been
PLACES TO EAT
A true truffle restaurant! Everything on the menu is prepared with fresh truffles. https://www.restaurantzigante.com
Beautiful pizzas and the most amazing scrambled eggs with freshly shaved truffle
PLACES TO SHOP
Famed truffle shop filled with everything under the sun from truffle cheese, honey, olive oil and of course fresh black & white truffles
This charming little shop is full of jams, honey, local chocolate, ceramics, and they even made their own brandy. Don’t miss the elderflower vinegar!
I would have to say I was most inspired by how pure this region has stayed. It still feels like it has maintained its roots and traditions no matter how globalized the worlds has become. There is a true dependence on the land and I never saw a single imported food product during my entire trip. As a food lover and cook, having access to such beautiful ingredients is extremely inspiring for me and something I try to bring to life in my own kitchen as much as I can.