From the 17th to the 24th of June the Croatian Language School will organize its annual Language and Culture programme, this time in Istria.
Our programme consists of six excursions and a Masterchef workshop to top it all of! In large part the excursions are organized by our lovely host Ljerka Mikić, our local guide for the region of Istria.
What do we have planned?
Sunday 18th Full day trip to Fažana and Brijuni Islands
Since Fažana was already known in Roman Times, it warrants a short guided tour. We meet at 9am on the main square, in front of the church of St. Cosmas and Damian, for a walking tour. At 10am we take the 15 minute boat trip to Veli Brijun. On the island we join a bigger group for a train ride of approximately 30 minutes and, during the ride, the Brijuni National Park guide will deliver a commentary on the area. After 30 minutes, we alight and take a walking tour for approximately four kilometres. The island is a real paradise for archaeological sites but we can only reach them on foot. There is a restaurant where we can stop for lunch and after the lunch break, we are going to dedicate some time both to Tito and his stay on Brijuni as well as to Paul Kupelwiesser, the man who created a famous tourist resort here at the very beginning of the 20th century. Our return to Fažana will be in late afternoon.
Monday 19th – Half day trip to the Limski Canal and Rovinj
Departing at 3pm, we travel by private bus to Lim Bay and at 4.30pm our boat trip will take us from the beginning of Lim Bay in the direction of Rovinj. The boat is big enough to ensure a comfortable journey and there are toilets on board. Lim Bay is part of the 35 km long Lim Valley (Draga) which stretches almost as far as Pazin in the centre of Istria. The bay itself is a little longer than 12 km. It is 30 metres deep and at its widest section it is around 600 metres wide. On both sides very steep cliffs rise up reaching 100 metres in places. The water in the bay is partly brackish as a result of its underwater sources of fresh water and it is thus conducive to the growth of plant and animal life. It is also well-known for its fish and oyster farms (oysters, mussels, giltheads, sea bass). After a trip of approximately 90 minutes, we arrive at Rovinj, where we make a guided walking tour including a visit to the “Batana” museum (dedicated to the tradition of boat building and fishing in Rovinj) and St. Euphemia Church. After the tour there will be some free time for your own exploration of Rovinj and dinner. Our bus will pick us up at 10pm for our half hour return journey to Fažana.
Tuesday 20th – Half day trip to Pula
We depart from Fažana at 8.30am for the 15 minute drive to Pula. On arrival our guide will take us on a walking tour of the 3,000 year old city, starting at its historic centre and most famous landmark, the Pula amphitheatre. One of the largest surviving Roman amphitheatres in the world, it was once the scene of bloody gladiatorial fights. Today it is Pula’s main cultural outdoor venue and is known for its music and film festivals. From there we continue walking along the fragments of the ancient city walls, built by the Romans in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Along the way we come to the Double Gate, the Hercules Gate, one of three surviving entrances to the Old Town of Pula and a magnificent example of Roman architecture dating back to the 1st Century. We finish our tour on the main square, the Forum Romanum with the Temple of Augustus. At the top of the central hill called “Kaštel” there is a Venetian fort, where today is located a history museum.
Wednesday 21th – Full day trip to the Hilltop Towns
We depart at 9am for the one and a quarter hour drive to Grožnjan, which is an ancient hilltop town in the north-west of Istria. It takes great pride in its wealth of tradition, cultural heritage and natural beauty, all of which are embodied in its art. Today numerous cultural and historical landmarks serve as backdrops for cultural events and entertainment including frequent classical music concerts, a jazz festival, the Ex Tempore art exhibition and numerous other exhibitions at the municipal gallery and in approximately twenty private galleries and studios. Only a 15 minute drive from Grožnjan, in the area often called “Croatian Tuscany”, we find one of the most famous wineries of Croatia, the “Kabola” winery. Our visit to this property includes a guided tour through the cellar, where we have the opportunity to sample five wines accompanied by a snack of Istrian prosciuto, cheese, olives, olive oil, bread etc. Here the wine is matured not only in wooden barrels but also in genuine amphorae. The vineyard and winery have been in the same family since 1891. Any wine enthusiast will be delighted with their elegant and sophisticated wines which are exported all over the world. After some good wine and food we continue to Završje, a mediaeval town until recently known as “ghost town”.
Our trip comes to an end in the village of Livade, one of the most important centres of truffle farming in Europe, situated just a short drive from Završje. Until recently the Istrian white truffle was unknown on the world’s stage of luxury gastronomy. It was being smuggled to the fine restaurants of the world and was served either without its origin being given or falsely presented as Italian. Today, Istrians no longer wish to smuggle or even export their truffles. But neither do they want to keep them to themselves. More than anything they want to be able to offer them to those true connoisseurs of this magical fungus who now come to visit this small corner of the world from which this delicacy originates. Here we will enjoy a special demonstration by a local farmer with his sniffer dogs and he will explain how the truffles are harvested. We stop for dinner in the village called Žminj arriving back in Fažana in early evening.
Thursday 22nd – Half day trip to Roč and Hum
We depart at 4pm for the one hour twenty minute drive to Roč and Hum. Roč is a small town located in the north of Istria, near Buzet. Roč is known for its fresco painting tradition and young local artists have established workshops of fresco making. Hari Vidović is an art professor and one of the originators of the workshops in Roč. According to Professor Vidović, fresco painting has not completely vanished but nowadays it is a rarely used technique. These workshops will give us an opportunity to learn about all the stages of making a fresco. Professor Vidović will meet us at the main town gate and take us on a tour of Roč visiting local churches, where we will see some very well preserved original fresco paintings. After the tour he will take us to his house and there he will show us how to make a fresco painting. A short drive from Roč brings us to Hum, the smallest town in the world. After a short walk and guided tour, we have some free time for shopping and dinner before returning to Fažana.
Friday 23rd –‘Masterchef workshop – School of salting pilchard’
‘Masterchef workshop’ – salting pilchard and hearing the story on the traditional way of preserving, processing and preparing pilchard.
With the help of local fisherman, It will be a chance to try your hand at this old skill of the sea, cellar and kitchen.
After the workshop we will stay in the nearby konoba for our Farewell Dinner and the opportunity to taste marinated pilchard as well as other pilchard dishes.
And now some words from our guide
1) After graduating from the Matematics Gimnasium in Pula you went on to study at the Faculty of tourism and hospitality management in Opatija.
What made you choose for a career in tourism?
I wanted to study psychology or defectology. These faculties were in Zagreb, where the winters are much colder than on the coast and with a lots of snow, so, I had to give up. I can not live without the sun and under the fog and rain for a long time. So, since the time was passing and I still did not know where to apply, some of my friends mentioned that they will go to this faculty in Opatija. And the rest is history …
2) For three seasons you worked as a guide in the National Park Brijuni.
Can you tell us about the work you did there?
I worked there for 2 seasons (2001 and 2002). After I moved back from Belgium, where I spent 6 months through Eurodyssee program, I could not find the job. One spring day of 2001 I saw in the local newspapers that the Brijuni NP was looking for the new guides, and I applyed for the educational period after which I was employed by the park. I was working as a guide in english and french language
3) You are a licensed shipping agent. What does that mean in practice? Do you get to work with ocean cruisers?
This would be a definition of a shipping agent:
Shipping agents will take care of all the regular routine tasks of a shipping company quickly and efficiently. They ensure that essential supplies, crew transfers, Harbour master Office, police and customs documentation. Waste declarations are all arranged with the port authorities without delay.
It is the ship agent who is entrusted with taking care of every need and requirement of the crew like getting local currency, arranging the car transfers and guides, getting the mail, any repairmen in case the ship requires, major repairing, refilling the food and water containers and many other such duties.
I was working with the French cruise ship Club Med 2 for few years and also Venezialines katamarans which are connecting Istria with Venice on a daily base in summer times.
4) In your free time you are a very active person enjoying swimming, playing tennis and windsurfing among other things.
You also ride a motorcycle. Did you travel across Croatia with your motorcycle?
Only in some parts and islands (Krk, Cres, Lošinj) which are not very far from Fažana
5) Soon the Croatian Language School will start its annual Language and Culture programme. In large part you are responsible for the
cultural programme. Can you tell us a bit about what made you choose the excursions?
Big experiences from my job as a guide for small groups on a base of “Tailor made programs” helps. Also, my lifestyle, since I am very courious person, helped to get knowledge I have now. Though, there is still a lot to see and to learn …