In Novigrad, you'll be dining at Marina - a JRE restaurant whose kitchen is run by Masterchef finalist Marina Gaši

Photo: Julien Duval
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Wine & gastro trip

Istrian gourmet specialties - a culinary journey through western Istria restaurants

Istrian cuisine will delight you with its diversity and harmony. Based on healthy seafood and soil products prepared with olive oil, spiced with spontaneous vegetation and Mediterranean spices, it sometimes exhibits its Mediterranean side, and sometimes the continental, it is easily adapted to seasons and a number of excellent varieties of wine make it complete. Regardless of the season when you arrive, the art of Istrian cuisine and gastronomy will reveal itself to you strongly and with passion.

Bring pleasure to your senses with the tastes and scents of the Mediterranean, while experiencing a gourmet journey through the blue and green Istria, known by the ancient Romans as a royal pantry. Few ingredients and a lot of imagination become gourmet assets such as fish, boškarin and truffles, paired with the globally-known Istrian wines Malvazija, Merlot and olive oils, and you will be equally amazed by the landscape full of hills, fairytale towns, vineyards and olive groves. Come closer to the simple Istrian life philosophy even if you are not a passionate gourmand, and enjoy the carefully prepared Istrian dishes.

Trip highlights

  • Dinner at the restaurant Marina (JRE) in Novigrad – 8-course tasting menu by a Masterchef finalist
  • Fish tasting menu at Gourmet Restaurant San Rocco (JRE) in Brtonigla
  • Lunch at La Puntulina, one of the finest restaurants in Rovinj
  • Lunch at the tavern Buščina in the city of Umag, where you'll try specialties made from boškarin, Istrian indigenous cattle
  • Tour of the wine cellar Kabola near Momjan, which includes a professionally-guided tasting of 5 wines along with snacks and palate-cleansers

Trip availableAPR-OCT
Duration4 days
Suitable for2 people
SupportPartially guided
Price per personfrom 1,170.00 €
Great for
  • Gourmets
  • Experienced travellers
  • Seniors
You’ll be accommodated in
  • 4-star Hotel
Trip designed by Vesna Luzar

Extremely versatile trip designer with an established career in travel business

Activities are taking place in Istria

Istria is well-known not only for specialties such as fish, white and black truffle, homemade pasta, prosciutto, cheese, seafood, asparagus, boškarin, and olive oil, but for alcoholic beverages as well.

Typical local strong alcoholic beverages in Istria include biska, mistletoe brandy and honey brandy, while wine lovers definitely have to taste white Malvazija and red Teran, indigenous wine varieties, or the well-naturalised Merlot and Muškat. Apart from gastronomical experiences, you will have Istria in the palm of your hand. Idealistic towns with a historical tradition, wonderful inland, romantic churches, Gothic and Baroque villas, middle-age towers and town walls, scenic squares, hills with forts and bell towers.

Brtonigla is a place known for its fertile soil and it offers wonderful landscapes to those who love to relax, take unforgettable walks and enjoy the beauties of the Istrian sea. Once you get closer to Cavalier, the area outside the Brtonigla centre, a field famous for vineyards, the view spreads over a temperate valley towards the sea and green olive groves to meet the blue sea of Karigrad and Punta. These were the places where, during celebrations, peasants from Brtonigla would come on oxen and would bring their whole families to spend the well-deserved day off.

Heritage 4-star Hotel San Rocco, Brtonigla is an ancient family estate, 5 km from the sea. Following the most strict restoration criteria, it was turned into an exclusive tourist complex in 2004, equipped with comfort and the required content that all modern top category European hotels should have. The hotel has 14 double bed rooms without a balcony. They are all equipped with a satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, a vault, mini bar, hair dryer, bathrobe and slippers. Each room is designed individually and each offers a special atmosphere. The hotel has an outdoor pool, bar by the pool with deck chairs and an inside pool in the wellness centre with Finnish sauna and massage.

San Rocco olive oil is the inevitable ingredient of the offer at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant and it is the main trait of gastronomic delicacies. It is used for culinary purposes at the restaurant and the wine bar-tavern, as well as in the wellness centre for various beauty treatments. San Rocco extra virgin olive oil has been chosen among the best olive oils in the world in the Flos Olei – the most prestigious olive oil guide in the world.

One of the most famous restaurants in the region, Gourmet Restaurant San Rocco, is located today in the premises of the former cellar, where up until recently the family pride has remained in oak barrels, the Istrian Malvasia. As the member of the association Jeunes Restorateurs d’Europe, and listed in the Michelin guide 2017, the restaurant makes the top of Istrian and Croatian gastronomy. The best dishes made from Adriatic fish, truffles, mushrooms and venison are served at the restaurant and it is open every day, except on Mondays.

Day-by-day itinerary


Istrian tradition

Arrival in Istria and accommodation in Heritage Boutique Hotel San Rocco in Brtonigla after 13.00. Brtonigla is situated in the north-west part of the Istrian peninsula, on a hill, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. It was mentioned for the first time in the 13th century under the name Ortonegro, deriving from the Roman Hortus niger (Black garden), which probably occurred due to the soil in the area.

Relax, as a culinary experience in the famous hotel Gourmet Restaurant San Rocco, the member of Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe association, waits for you in the evening. It is one of the best in Istria and Croatia and offers dishes made from Adriatic fish, truffles, mushrooms, lamb and venison. Enjoy the evening with a fish tasting menu, the best way to get to know the philosophy and gastronomical heritage of Istria.

Food tip

Brtonigla is also known as the wine town because of the biggest concentration of wine producers in Istria, and nowhere in Istria, nor in Croatia, can you find so many top restaurants with local cuisine on such a small area as in Brtonigla and its surroundings.


Culture, history and aroma

After breakfast follows a trip to Rovinj, known as the pearl of western Istrian coast and the most romantic place in the Mediterranean. What makes the old city centre – a cultural monument – so special are the characteristically built chimneys. The view of Rovinj is dominated by the baroque church of Saint Euphemia, with a 60 meter-high tower as the replica of the bell tower on the basilica of Saint Marcus in Venice. The top of the church holds a bronze statue of Saint Euphemia which turns in the direction of the wind. Take a walk around the Carrera street, Bregovita street and Grisia street, under open skies and open to all – academic artists and amateurs.

Lunch at a very well known restaurant La Puntulina - you should try prawns with olive oil and garlic or a Puntulina fish fillet.

Return to Brtonigla. Enjoy hotel’s outdoor pool, bar by the pool with deck chairs, or an indoors pool in the wellness centre with Finnish sauna and massage. Or simply feel inspired by this colourful Istrian town. It offers best from the Istrian inland - lovely hills, rich flora and fauna and the excellently preserved small churches and chapels which testify about the past. Visit the chapel dedicated to St. Rocco, the guardian of Brtongila, in the medieval heart of town and enjoy the romantic atmosphere of the stoney streets.

Food Tip

We recommend dinner in Primizia Food & Wine restaurant in Brtonigla, listed in the prestigious guide Gault Millau, where you can try traditional Istrian dishes and delicacies from the bread oven paired with best local wines.


Istria in the palm of your hand

À la carte breakfast. Trip to a small town of Grožnjan, the town of artists, where visual artists used to organise artistic colony in old abandoned houses which turned into a place of residence and work of many artists. The town fosters rich artistic tradition, and visual and musical art are present in their best possible form, on the spot. Visit to the wine cellar Kabola near Momjan at 275 m of altitude, where the view stretches all the way to the Alps and Dolomites on one side, and rich greenery of untouched nature and wonderful see view on the other.

Tour of the cellar, professionally-guided tasting of 5 wines recommended by the sommelier. You will taste 5 wines among famous Kabola wines: Istrian Malvasia, Amfora Malvasia, Momjan Muscat, Sparkling Wine RE, Teran, Merlot or Cabernet. Cheese, prosciutto, bread, dessert and olive oil will be tasted too. The winery Kabola won the Luxury Lifestyle Award by Luxury Travel Guide as the best in the category of Traditional Wine Maker of the Year 2017.

Later, lunch at tavern Buščina, one of the best in Istria. You will try specialties made from boškarin, Istrian indigenous cattle.

After lunch, trip to Umag, a former summer residence of many Roman nobles. The glow of those ancient times is reflected today in Venetian houses in the old city centre. Parts of the city walls and towers, city gates and movable bridge from the 10th century are preserved, as well as several Renaissance and Baroque buildings and churches, and there is also the church of Saint Rocco from 16th century with a painted ceiling. Take a trip to the olive oil road Olive Charm to taste 6 different types of extra virgin olive oils, granted the global “Oleoteca nazionale Armonia” award.

Flos Olei, the first and most respected guide to the best olive oils in the world, places Olive Charm among the world top producers. You will get to know the cultivation, production and maintenance processes of oil and try four different extra virgin olive oils. Taste the Istrian cured meats (sausage, prosciutto, pancetta, different types of cheese) and have a toast with a glass of a home-made wine. Return to the hotel.

In the evening, you will be greeted at the restaurant Marina in Novigrad (Novigrad is close by - approx. 10 km, you’ll have to use local transportation to get there, closed on Tuesdays), near the marina, with a wonderful view overlooking the sea and the old town, as well as with unusual combinations and tastes of an 8-course tasting menu, prepared by the globally famous chef Marina Gashi, a finalist in the popular TV culinary show Masterchef. Specialties are prepared from fresh fish and seasonal groceries, while the experienced sommelier will assist you with the choice of wine.

Food Tip

It is considered that the oldest olive tree in Istria is on Brijuni and it is 1600 years old.


Truffles hunting

À la carte breakfast. Check-out from the hotel by 11.00. Time permitting, we recommend that you go on a trip (upon request, personal transportation) to Buzet on a truffles hunt in the Buzeštine forest. You will embark on this adventure in the company of a host and one excellent tracking dog. This adventure will make anyone willing to dive into the secrets of Buzeština forest and truffle hunting, while going through thick bushes and branches, will make you feel all the charm of hunting. A prize will be waiting at the end of the hunt: tasting on the family estate, where truffles lead the way and where the explorers can enjoy truffle products, the most famous aphrodisiac in the world, truffle frittata, fine truffle dessert and good wine.

Food Tip

Truffle – underground mushroom shaped as a potato called tuber, grows in the Istrian soil and it is considered the top of the regional cuisine. Istria is famous for its top quality truffles – especially the white truffle which successfully competes against those from the Italian regions of Alba and Piedmont.

What's included?

  • Accommodation at the 4-star Heritage Hotel San Rocco, in a double bedroom Confort , 3 nights stay with a la carte breakfast (double classic rooms, no twin beds)
  • Tourist tax
  • Dinner at the Gourmet Restaurant San Rocco: fish tasting menu: cold mussels buzara (Croatian style stew), burrata and sea granita, capesante in lard from Istrian prosciutto, fennel and orange, spaghetti with konoča (type of shrimp), sea urchin and dried wild sea bass caviar (bottarga), new brodet with gnocchi and cuttlefish, “Fish and clams”, apple and wine vinegar sorbetto, “Cavallier” dessert. Wine and other beverages are not included.
  • Transport from Brtonigla around Istria for trips on Day 2 and Day 3
  • Private tour to Rovinj and lunch at restaurant Puntulina in Rovinj (drinks are not included)
  • Wine tasting at the Kabola wine cellar: professional guided tour around the cellar, tasting of 5 wines, cheese, prosciutto, bread, dessert, and olive oil.
  • Lunch at the Buščina tavern in Umag: Aperitif and cuvert, boškarin carpaccio with curd, fuži (Istrian pasta) with boškarin, tagliata on rucola with boškarin, dessert of your own choice. Beverage is not included.
  • Olive Charm tasting in Umag: Six extra virgin olive oils, Istrian cured meat (sausage, prosciutto, pancetta, several types of cheese), glass of a home-made wine, Istrian dessert
  • Dinner at the restaurant Marina in Novigrad (own transportation from/to Brtonigla) – 8-course tasting menu: Adriatic tuna paté with blueberry coulis and roasted almond flakes, raw leaf on black rice with red cabbage and fleur de sel with lavender, raw shrimps from Kvarner on a brioche and pickled wild asparagus, smoked octopus carpaccio, baked scallops on the oyster mousse and Indian Cress coulis, roasted shrimp in a sweet and sour shrimp soup, home-made pasta with warty venus ragú, parsley coulis and dehydrated cuttlefish ink, white fish fillet on sunchoke cream, crunchy chard, fried tapioca and raspberry coulis. Desserts are not included in the daily menu and are not included in the price, as well as wine or other beverages (payment on the spot).
  • Local guides for private trips to Rovinj and Umag
  • VAT

What's not included?

  • Meals and transportation which are not included in the programme
  • Entrance to objects visited during tours
  • Beverages alongside lunches and dinners
  • Personal expenses
  • Insurance

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