5 things I love about Istria

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1. There are lots of tiny hilltop villages

Inland Istria is peppered with fairytale-esque tiny villages perched on hilltops guarded by thick stone walls. To get to them, you have to drive at a near vertical angle to reach the summit but in the end, the view of rolling hills and valley, sprawling vineyards and patches of forest below is always worth it.

Motovun, Croatia

2. Istrians put truffles in EVERYTHING

Pasta. Cheese. Bread. Risotto. Eggs. Steak. Rakija. It's on everything in very generous amounts. Not only will they cook a dish with truffles, they'll shave more on top before it's delivered to the table. If you don't like truffles, Istria ain't for you.

Istrian Truffle Omelette

3. The colors

Many of the towns in Istria, especially the ones the line the coast like Pula, Rovinj, Novigrad and Opatija, are candy colored. Their unique architecture is painted in bright yellows, rich blues, warm reds and every other color in the easter egg spectrum.

Pula, Croatia

4. Wine, ahem

Istria is full of vineyards. It's primary varietals are malvazija, a crisp white wine, and teran, an acidic red, both of which easily balance out the rich pastas and risottos found in Istria.

Istria Tomaz Winery

5. It's 20 minutes from Italy

Once you leave the Croatian border, it only takes 20 minutes to cross Slovenia's meager sliver of coast line and reach Italy. Trieste, to be exact, which is a bustling seaside city of 500,000. During all my trips to Istria, I can't resist a day trip to Trieste for lunch.

Trieste, Italy

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Sara is an American expat based in Split. After globetrotting between New York, Amsterdam and California, she moved to Croatia in 2012. Sara's blog Expat in Croatia is a guide for foreigners living and traveling in Croatia.

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