ISTRIA AND KVARNER RIVIERA
LOCAL AREA, BEACHES & THINGS TO DO
Oprtalj (known as Portole in Italian) is located on the crest of a hill at 378m (1240 feet) and from this high vantage point offers stunning views across the Istrian peninsula stretching coast to coast from Mount Ucka (above Rijeka ) in the east to the Adriatic coast in the west.
The site was occupied in prehistoric times and was a Roman military post. The present town was established during the medieval period and part of the original fortifications are now incorporated into houses built into the town walls. From 1420 to 1797 the town was controlled by the Venetian Republic. The parish church, set on the town square was built in the early 16th century with baroque features added in the 17th century. Oprtalj has kept its town walls and its medieval lay-out of narrow streets, tiny squares and arched passages. On visiting Oprtalj the overwhelming sensation is one of quiet and tranquillity coupled with a direct association with its medieval past. The town has a restaurant, local shop/general store and a post office. It is a growing centre for antiques with several antique shops and a periodic antique market in the summer months. Oprtalj is well positioned to explore the Central Istria region.
View from Oprtalj
Spa and pool at Istarska Toplice
Food and Wine
The area around Oprtalj is one of the principal areas in Europe for finding truffles. The largest ever truffle (as recorded in the Guinness book of records ) was found in the Motuvun forest just a few kilometres from Oprtalj. The local restaurants specialise in providing dishes incorporating truffles and a grilled steak covered with a thick layer of fresh truffle shavings will cost less than a regular steak in London or Paris. On of the most highly regarded restaurants in Istria, Zigante, is just 10 minutes drive down the hill to Livade. In the autumn there are annual truffle festivals centred on Livade and Buzet. Within a 15 minute drive from Oprtalj there is a wide selection of first class restaurants. We provide details and recommendations. Excellent wines are produced in the area and well marked wine routes lead you through charming countryside to wineries where you can sample some of the very best Croatian wines. Local olive oil is another feature of the cuisine.
There are some excellent marked cycle routes in Istria. Cycle route maps are also available. Istria has a number of caves that are open to the public. For example Pazin, Baredine and Mramornica caves. For details go to the website:Mramornica Cave. The spectacular caves at Postojna in Slovenia are a possible day trip. This 20 kilometres long network of passages, massive galleries and spectacular chambers is the most visited cave in Europe.
Baths and spas - wellness centres. Istarske toplice
This thermal resort less than 15 minutes drive from Oprtalj is located in beautiful and dramatic countryside. It has a hot mineral spring that is beneficial for the treatment of chronic rheumatic diseases, dermatological and other diseases. The resort offers a variety of beauty treatments and massages and can also provide simple relaxation and swimming in the outdoor or indoor pools.
Central Istria is often compared to Tuscany. The undulating landscape with vineyards, olive groves, woodlands and river valleys is studded with numerous hilltop towns and villages, many originating from the medieval period and earlier and almost all offering spectacular vantage points over the surrounding countryside. The guide books pick out the hilltop towns of Motovun and Groznjan but there are many others worth exploring and we will provide you with our own suggestions of places off the usual tourist routes that should not be missed. These medieval settlements have charming village houses, squares and alleyways and in towns like Oprtalj and Motuvun more imposing architecture and fortifications.
To the east side of Istria the old town of Labin and the hilltop village of Gracisce are worth visiting.
Excellent wines are produced in the area and well marked wine routes lead you through charming countryside to wineries where you can sample some of the best Croatian wines. Notable are the Kozlovic and Markezic wineries.
The Istrian coastal towns
The west coast of Istria is within easy reach. Many of the towns on this coast are communities first established in the Roman era or earlier but the dominant influence that can be seen today is Venetian. Most of the major coastal towns were under the control of the Venetian Republic during the medieval period. At the northern end of the coast the charming town of Novigrad is worth visiting; it has an attractive harbour crowded with local fishing boats and an old town surrounded by fortifications and on the outer side (away from the harbour) a lungamare (promenade) providing a pleasant walk along the coast and an ideal place to sunbathe and swim.
Further down the coast Rovinj is unquestionably the most picturesque of the medieval Venetian towns on the Adriatic. Every guide book features the colourful facades of the tightly packed houses that encircle this tiny peninsula with the cathedral of St Euphemia and its dominating 60 metre bell tower standing over the town.
Other coastal towns well documented in guide books are Porec, Umag, Vrsar and Piran in Slovenia. On the east coast of Istria, Opatija provides a contrast with its grand villas built in the 19th century for the Austro Hungarian aristocracy, a delightful lungamare (promenade) and some fine restaurants.
Our Villas in Oprtalj
|Casa della Vigna|
|2-bedroom house in medieval hilltop town. Breathtaking views across central Istria. Sleeps 4-6. Air-conditioned, terrace and garden. Golf course 30min away. A house for all seasons.|
|A newly renovated luxury air-conditioned villa with six bedrooms and six en-suite bathrooms. Lovely large private garden and infinity pool, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Free wireless internet. Sleeps 12-14.|
|A luxury villa in the peaceful hamlet of Poropati only 5km from the medieval town of Groznjan. The villa is separated into two wings, each with its own fully equipped kitchen. A total of seven bedrooms and six bathrooms. There is a heated pool, a separate pool for children and parking for six cars. Air-conditioned. Wifi. Sleeps 14|