Grožnjan & Motovun
By the early 60s the medieval town of Grožnjan had seen its better days but a proposal for revitalizing the town around the arts and music began to take hold under the direction of the municipal authorities. Today Grožnjan reminds me a little bit of Carmel, California or at least how it could be if they could get rid of the traffic in the central part of town.
To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.Freya Stark
We came upon a store that sold truffle spread and oil and we stocked up for our trip and some to take home. My wife had never tasted truffles before and originally thought it was some type of chocolate. We also met an artist who has shown his work all over the world. His work was quite stunning but unfortunately out of our price range. There were many nice shops with all sorts of handiwork. I bought a very small casting of a Kazun, a tiny round stone one room structure used over the centuries to store food and other supplies safely out of the elements for those working in the olive groves and vineyards. They could also serve as a temporary shelter from a passing storm.
Like most towns the best time to visit in the summer but this is especially true of Grožnjan when this otherwise sleeping town is metamorphosed into a noisy stage paced by actors, musicians, painters, sculptors, and art lovers.
Next we had lunch in a town called Motovun. To get to the town we had to drive a dirt road but all was ok once we arrived. Motovun is one of the best preserved Istrian hill medieval towns. It is located at the south side of Mirna River Valley. For racing enthusiasts Montona, as it was then known was the birthplace of race car driver Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo. The brothers raced hand-crafted wooden cars through the steep streets. After World War II Istria became a part of Croatia, under Yugoslavia. His family, like many other ethnic Italians left with the Andrettis later emigrating to America.
We had lunch at a place called, "Konoba Mondo". I had a wonderful pasta sprinkled with truffles. Speaking to the waiter regarding Motovun's famous son I was startled to hear that we had missed Mario by one week and that he ate at the very same restaurant where we were now eating.