Pula, Istria, Croatia Truffles, Istria, Croatia

Ultimate Istria

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

The following is just a suggested daily touring schedule. You will have complete control over your daily schedule and may change your plans at any time by simply telling your guide. Your time in Europe is yours to enjoy as you like!

For custom luxury travel and tours to Istria and Croatia, please contact one of our travel experts.

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ITINERARY

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Day 1
Arrival | Zagreb

Arrival in Zagreb – Croatia’s capital and largest city. You will be met by your private driver and guide, who will be waiting for you just outside of Customs, after you pick up your luggage. 

The history of Zagreb dates as far back as the 11th century when the Hungarian King Ladislaus founded a diocese here. Gradually, a settlement developed on the neighboring hill. Today, this settlement is Zagreb's Upper Town - one of the best preserved medieval urban centers in Croatia. As a sign of gratitude for offering him a safe haven from the Tatars, King Bela IV offered the town’s citizens autonomy and independent judicial system. According to a legend, Bela left the city a cannon to be fired every day so that it did not rust. Since 1 January 1877 the cannon has been fired from one of the towers every day at noon.

You will transfer through the Istrian Peninsula and to the Adriatic shore where you will arrive in the town of Novigrad, which is picturesquely located on a small peninsula on the Western coast of Istria. Check-in at your hotel for an evening at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide for Half Day

Hotel: Monte Mulini

 

 

 

Day 2
Istrian Peninsula | Istrian Peninsula

This morning, after meeting your guide and driver, you will start your day of exploring the Istrian Peninsula.

First, you will transfer south along the cost to the town of Porec. An extremely important town during Roman times, it was later sacked by the Goths, conquered by the Byzantines, and gifted to the Patriarchate of Aquilia by the Franks. During medieval times, it opted for Venetian rule but again faced attack from the Genoese and the Austrians not to mention being inundated by plague and pirates! The tumult of influences has resulted in one of the most beautiful destinations on the Istrian peninsula, splitting at the seams with its fascinating history.

Your guide will take you on a visit to the famous Basilica of Euphrasius. This magnificent church dates back to the 6th Century AD and some of the original mosaics still exist inside its walls. Decorated in Byzantine fashion, all the mosaics are on an exquisite gold background and beautiful Greek marble columns support the walls. The Basilica was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in December 1997.

Later this afternoon, you will continue south to Rovinj, where your guide will take you to visit the Church of St. Euphemia. The Venetian Baroque structure dominated the Old Town center of Rovinj and is dedicated to St. Euphemia, the patron saint of the city.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience (can also be combined with the visit to the Brijuni National Park)

Further down along the Adriatic coast, you will reach the historic town of Vodnjan, which has been known for its excellent local wine since Antiquity. Here, you will be treated to a private tasting in the famous Giacometti-Moscarda Winery. The Giacometti-Moscarda family has been producing award winning wine and olive oil for generations. You will taste home-made grappa with different traditional flavors such as mistletoe or honey, as well as some red and white wine and olive oil, all of these accompanied by home-made proscuitto ham, cheese and olives.

This afternoon, you will reach Pula – a 3000-years-old town located at the southernmost tip of the peninsula. Pula became famous under the Romans during the 2nd Century BC, and became an Episcopal seat during the 5th Century. It was sacked by the Ostrogoths but regained power under the Byzantines as a naval port during the 6th and 7th Centuries. It fell into decline until the Austro-Hungarians gained power and established their naval fleet here. The ancient barracks of the Austro-Hungarian Empire still house Croatia’s naval forces.

You will start your tour at the historic center of the city at its most famous landmark - the Pula amphitheater. One of the largest surviving Roman amphitheaters in the world, it was once the scene of bloody gladiator fights. Today it is Pula’s main cultural outdoor venue and is known for its music and film festivals.

From here you may continue walking along the fragments of the ancient city walls, there were built by the Romans in the 1st and 2nd Centuries and still survive today thanks to the fine craftsmanship of the Roman masons. Along the way, you will come to The Hercules Gate, one of the only surviving entrances to the Old Town of Pula, with its magnificent example of Roman architecture dating back to the 1st Century. As you pass under the enormous entrance, pause for a minute directly beneath the graceful arch to look up and see the symbol of the eagle killing the serpent etched into the stone.

You may want to see the Church of St. Francis and the Franciscan monastery which is adjacent to it. The Franciscan monastery in Pula, as in other parts of Croatia, is still in function. It is built in typical fashion, with an open cloister in the center leading off to the small complex of buildings on the sides. The church of St. Francis was also built in the 13th century along with the monastery and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. It’s most impressive feature is the Rose window that adorns the majestic entrance to the church.

At the end of this day, you may decide to stop to taste some local wines at the Matosevic Winery in the small village of Kruncici near Rovinj. Mr. Matosevic, who has a Doctorate in Botanic Sciences from the University of Bologna in Italy, is one of the region’s leading producers of Chardonnay and Malvoisie wines, and the holder of numerous international awards.

Later this evening, you will return to Novigrad and your hotel for an evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Monte Mulini

Day 3
Istrian Peninsula | Istrian Peninsula

This morning, after again meeting your guide and driver at 10:00 AM, you will continue with the exploration of Istria. This time, you will have the opportunity to get to know the interior of the peninsula which, with its olive groves and vineyards, is very different from the coast. Riding through the rugged and hilly terrain you will come to the medieval ruins of the town of Motovun, which suddenly springing into view. Motovun is an excellent example of the ancient townships which once dotted the Istrian peninsula. Your guide will take you on a walking tour of the upper and lower towns of Motovun.

You will continue your tour of Istria with a visit to Livade, a small village in the Istrian countryside famous for being one of the best-known truffle regions in Europe! White Istrian truffles are among of the most expensive mushrooms in the world, and truffle harvesting is a local tradition in the interior of the Istrian peninsula. 

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Today you may enjoy a truffle hunting demonstration, guided by a local expert and a trained dog. Curiously, in the past, pigs were also used for this purpose.

For lunch, we suggest that you enjoy the exceptional cuisine of the Zigante Restaurant, which features truffle specialties. Its owner, Mr. Zigante, has earned his place in the Guinness Book of Records as the person who found the biggest (2.88 lbs) white truffle in the world! The cost of lunch is not included in your trip.

Later today, you may decide to continue your trip to the eastern coast of the peninsula to visit the resort towns of Opatija and Lovran. Lovran is actually one of the oldest coastal settlements in the area and was an important urban and shipbuilding center of the northern Adriatic in the Middle Ages. Following the sudden development of other ports in the vicinity, such as Trieste, Pula, and Rijeka, which became the new and dominant trade centers in the region, Lovran gradually lost its significance. However, in the mid 19th Century, the area again gained prominence as a fashionable resort of the Austro-Hungarian nobility, forming a long tradition of hospitality, which is still strongly felt in the Lovran - Opatija region and forms the backbone of the local economy.

Later this evening, you will return back to Novigrad for an evening at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Monte Mulini

Day 4
Brijuni Archipelago | Brijuni Archipelago

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

This morning, after meeting your guide and driver, you will continue your tour of Istria with a short drive (just over an hour) down the Adriatic coast to the town of Fazana, from where you will board a private motorboat which will take you to the Brijuni archipelago and its largest island - Veli (Great) Brijun. You will arrive at the island’s main harbor from where you will embark on a tour of its main sights.

The Brijuni archipelago is made up of 14 islands, some of which have been inhabited since Paleolithic times. In Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the islands were mainly known for their quarries, the stone of which was used to build many of the buildings and bridges in Venice. Later, the Austrians fortified some of the larger islands to support their naval base in Pula. It was not until the 19th century that the islands’ potential for tourism was realized. A Viennese entrepreneur bought the whole archipelago and developed an exclusive resort with hotels, restaurants, a casino, and a marina which became the playground for European and American celebrities and aristocrats. After the Second World War, Josip Broz Tito, the leader of communist Yugoslavia, declared the island a restricted zone and made it his summer residence. It was only after his death that the Brijun Island was opened to visitors as a national park.

On the western coast of the island, you may see the extensive ruins of a Byzantine castle complex as well as those of a Roman villa from the 1st century. You will also see the fenced-off White Villa – a former Venetian residence which was restored in the early 18th century and again in the 1950s to become the summer mansion of Marshal Tito during his reign as the president of the former Yugoslavia. Tito used this villa to receive various foreign dignitaries and delegations and many formal receptions and important events took place here. Among the island museum’s best exhibits is the ‘Tito on Brijni’ which features a huge collection of photos of the former Yugoslav leader and offers an insight into the life and political career of this still beloved by his former subjects Communist dictator.

After your tour of Veli Brijun you will return to the mainland where your driver will be waiting to take you back to Novigrad and your hotel.

 Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Monte Mulini

 

Day 5
Departure | Zagreb

Today you will be transferred back to Zagreb for your onward flight home or to your next destination. 

Exeter Services: Transfer only

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