First of all, we would very much like to thank Radio Si for choosing us to be the scouts in Istra, one of the most beautiful parts of Slovenia. We would also like to thank all our hosts, Laura, Urban, Sonja and Urška, for the work they do and products they make. And surely, this intro won’t be full without saying special thank you to Mateja, the owner of the Holiday Houses of Slovenian Istria, who accommodated us and created the programme of our journey.
We are a young couple, Maria and Rastko, coming from Russia and Serbia. Despite our relatively long-lasting relationship with Slovenia (Rastko has been living here for almost 5 years, and Maria – for 2,5) and Rastko’s undeniable love of Slovenian coastal region, the places we visited during these 2 days in Istra were previously unknown for us.
Our journey started with a ride from Ljubljana to Koper, where we picked up a rented car. Our destination was the Holiday Houses of Slovenian Istria, which are located in approximately 15 min ride from Koper. On the way to our accommodation we stopped in a beautiful village of Marezige, famous for its wine fountain, the first one of its kind in Slovenia. From the same place, where the fountain is located, we admired a stunning view on the Koper bay.
Arrived in the Holiday Houses, we were met and welcomed by Mateja, who gave us practical info about the accommodation and our program, as well as told us the story of the Holiday Houses and nearby vicinity. The Holiday Houses provide accommodation of different types, but the most unorthodox one is hiške, three small houses built in remembrance of the grandmothers who were producing bread, milk, and eggs and carrying them down to Trieste to sell. The house we got was named Krušarica (Bread lady). There is no water or electricity in the house (the bathroom is located in the main building), but it is indeed not what you are looking for when coming to these houses. The location and atmosphere is what makes them so unique. The houses are located in the fruit garden full of rich and fresh summer smell of herbs and trees. You can lay down in hammocks, pick up some fruits, sunbathe on deckchairs or enjoy unforgettable view on Trieste and Koper. All the things we made sure to do.
Our Istrian program started with a quick ride to the abandoned village Vršič, which wouldn’t even be found on the map of the region. These ride might have lasted longer, if we wouldn’t have met a long black snake laying on the road to the village. Later we found out that it was not venomous, but at that point we decided to stay in the auto and observe what was left after the village from there (well, we were surely acting not that calmly as the way it is written).
Since we had some time before the reserved wine tasting at the wine cellar Vina Montis, we went for a ride around the neighboring villages, tiny but picturesque. At 19.00 we arrived to Montinjan, where Laura, the owner of Vina Montis & Eko Laura, was already waiting for us with welcome drink. Vina Montis is a family-run winery, which produces high-quality wine and olive oil in accordance with ecological standards. Laura showed us part of their vineyard, machines and equipment they use, explained us the mechanics of the wine-making processes and introduced us to the history of the place. Later, she invited us to a wine-tasting dinner, accompanied with talks and local specialties (pršut, sheep cheese, olives, marinated garlic, zucchini and eggplant, all produced by Laura’s family themselves). Apart from malvazija and refošk, traditional Istrian wines, we also had a chance to try chocolate vine, an interesting drink that would remind you of a chocolate cherry cake. There is no need to say how good and tasty all wines were, easy and light to drink without your face turning red and with your head staying clear.
Our next day started with Istrian breakfast, composed of the ingredients all made at neighboring farms and served in the fruit garden. The meal was accompanied with a leaflet with information about the producers and farms who provided their products for the breakfast. One of them was tea made by the Herbal Paradise of Slovenian Istria, our next destination.
The Herbal Paradise of Slovenian Istria is run by Urban and Sonja, who are growing several types of herbs and trees, among them lavender, yarrow, mint, and olives, and later producing from them ointments, essential oils, floral water, and alcohol drinks. The couple will soon build a beehouse, so we should expect that honey will also be part of the assortment. Apart from herb plants, Urban and Sonja also constructed the energy labirint, representing the 7 chakras, where the therapeutic sessions are being conducted.
Our next destination was Marima farm, which provided dried figs for the Istrian breakfast. There our host Urška with her children took us for a walk to the waterfall Stranice, while telling us about their farm, which produces dried fruits and olive oil, and life in a small village, where they are only family with kids. At the end of the walk we were invited to dried fruit and olive oil tasting. Urška described how the dried fruits are being made from the planting a tree to packing them and told about the specifics of these procedures at the ecological farm.
Our trip was slowly coming to the end. We had amazing lunch at the tourist farm Štok and then headed toward Koper, where we had an opportunity to visit the city tower. Unfortunately, it was already closed by the time we arrived there, nevertheless we rented a surrey bike and took a ride around Koper, enjoying our last hour before the ride back to Ljubljana.
Maria Fedina and Rastko Veriš
Photos: Maria & Rastko