Buzet, the “City of Truffles,” is worthy of a visit, especially during Truffle Day (usually the second Saturday in September). During this celebration of the earthy delicacy, the whole town throws a block party with music, food, and, of course, truffles. Cars are allowed up the narrow, twisting street into town, but don't try driving up there unless you’re sure your brakes are good.

In contrast, 8km (5 miles) southeast of Buzet, Roč is ringed by an unusually low medieval wall surrounding a fortified town. The medieval walls, town gates, and a tower are nice to see; interesting Roman tombstones are displayed just inside the main gate arch. Roč is primarily known as a center of Glagolitic literature. Every year the town puts on the Small Glagolitic Academy so that Croatia’s kids can keep the traditional writing alive. Private rooms are available in Roč (there are signs on the road), and there is a decent konoba.

Only about 20 people live within Hum’s well-preserved walls, which enclose two small streets and two churches, one of which dates from the 12th century. A recent spruce-up has made the town an inviting destination.

Black (& White) Gold

Istria is fast becoming as famous as France and Italy for its truffles—pungent, underground tuberous fungi used in many traditional Istrian dishes and sauces. In Istria, specially trained dogs (Istrian Hunters) are used to sniff out the malodorous treasures that grow a foot beneath the floor of the forests around Buzet. (France and Italy traditionally use pigs, although dogs are becoming common there, too.) True truffle madness takes over the area during Truffle Days, which occur at the start of the season in the area’s villages. The most famous of these celebrations is the second Saturday in September in Buzet, where an omelette the size of the local mythic giant Veli Jože is cooked up with truffles and shared among all the merrymakers in town. Truffles’ strong, distinctive flavor makes them an acquired taste, and their rarity and astronomical price make them a delicacy. Truffles are less expensive in Croatia than they are in other countries and thus are used more liberally in the cuisine.

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