Motovun (Montona) is one of Istria’s better-known interior towns, perhaps because it hosts events like the Motovun Film Festival, hot-air balloon competitions, and a festival celebrating truffles and wine. It doesn’t hurt that this hilltop town is just 14km (9 miles) north of Pazin and that it is home to the delightful Kaštel Hotel.
A short distance north of Motovun is the village of Livade (Levade), fast becoming a center for gastronomic delights, including the locally venerated truffle. In the countryside around Livade, you’ll see huge tracts of vineyards and olive trees, with workers toiling in the fields no matter what the season. There are new vineyards as well as old, along with lots of hand-painted signs on side roads advertising homemade wine, olive oil, and grappa for sale.
If you continue on the same road a little farther, you’ll reach Oprtalj (Portole), a charming town on a hill high above the Mirna river valley. It is home to the 15th-century St. Mary’s Church and the 16th-century Church of St. Rock,both of which have a few lovely but minor frescoes. However, you’ll probably have to be content with looking at these through the church windows, as they are rarely open.
Despite their remoteness and lack of efficient public transportation, all these tiny towns are quickly becoming centers of activity for lovers of film, music, fine dining, and other activities that feed the senses.