From Piran, Slovenia, we prepped for 3 pit stops driving into the Istrian Peninsula through the hilltop villages of Groznjan, Motovun, Rovinj, and finally Rijeka where we stayed 2 nights. From Piran to Groznjan, there wasn’t enough time for a nap. These 2 towns in 2 separate states are just a half hour drive apart. Two countries within 30 minutes or so. From Slovenia into Croatia. I picked a banana to take out from our hotel’s breakfast buffet and had barely eaten the whole fruit and drank a bottle of water before it was time to get off the van! Here’s our story on this roadtrip covering the first town of northwestern Croatian Adriatic.

Art is top of the agenda in Groznjan with its many art galleries, courtyards, artists’ workshops, antiques and curio shops. It’s summer and this medieval town is like an entire stage for art and music, like a Mecca for all art lovers. Along the photogenic cobbled streets, we found a local friendly cat and tinkered with this musical box playing Beatles songs and some other jazz pieces. So in sync with the art pieces on display — images of Groznjan’s neighbour towns within Istrian Peninsula’s coastline with tiny, closely-built houses and cottages with blue shutters, or fertile valleys and rolling countryside with olive trees and grapes. So very charming!

Art and Culture.😊 The town breathes it. And its visitors either come toting cameras with long lenses and other gadgets, or leave the town with bags heavy with some shopping. There are al fresco cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating for diners to enjoy the rustic panorama of green, rolling hills from a lofty vantage point. More than the place, I found the locals very charming and friendly. Having just entered Croatia, I didn’t have time to change money and thus didn’t have kuna to buy a local snack food. The young man behind the Fritule booth changed my €5 into the local currency just so I can buy his fritule. He even asked me to take his photo and gamely posed for a shot! The same young man also told me that we should stay at least a night in his village if only to sit and sip a beer in an outdoor bar while listening to good jazz or classical music. It being summer, he said every night there’s some kind of music fest where jazz musicians come do a show for free. If I let my imagination run, it could be one magical night of wine and jazz. Not bad!

Truffle. I never expected this medieval Groznjan to be teeming with truffle stores. But obviously, truffle is serious business here. I bought truffle sausages in snack sizes, truffle spreads, truffle jams and truffle chips. If there was truffle-flavoured soda or water on sale, I would have bought it too! πŸ˜‚ Thankfully, I got out of the truffle store in time to save money and instead delight in the town’s Loggia just past the store. It’s pretty with its charming flower boxes but it isn’t a place where one lingers. Have a good look and that’s it. Seriously.

I’m not sure I’d be back anywhere in Europe during summer — the heat can be bothersome — but if I do, I’d like to head back here, stay the night and as suggested by the Fritule lad, enjoy a beer while waiting for the landscape bathed in golden light. Have a good local dinner with some truffles, sip some wine while listening to jazz music until late evening. During the day, I’d sleep in the whole morning and step out of my hotel with a window offering a view of the rolling hills no earlier than noon. Maybe hit the art galleries and studios, visit a church, drink more wine in the town square, before moving to the next medieval town. Yes, that should be nice 😊