Wine & gastro trip

Istrian gourmet specialities - a private culinary journey through western Istria restaurants

A four-day journey into Istrian gastronomical offer with gourmet specialties: fish, truffles, pasta, prosciutto, cheese, seafood, asparagus, boškarin (Istrian indigenous cattle), olive oil and fine wines.

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

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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.

Istria was 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Visit the chapel dedicated to St. Rocco, the guardian of Brtongila, in the medieval heart of town and enjoy the romantic atmosphere of the cobbled streets.

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 bedrooms 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.

We also recommend trying out the local truffles. This 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. 

Day-by-day itinerary


Istrian tradition

Arrival in Istria and accommodation in Heritage Boutique Hotel San Rocco in Brtonigla. Brtonigla is situated in the north-west part of the Istrian peninsula, on a hill, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.

Relax, as a culinary experience in the famous hotel Gourmet Restaurant San Rocco, the member of Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe association, awaits 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 best way to get to know the philosophy and gastronomical heritage of Istria.


Culture, history and aroma

After breakfast, it’s time for 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 - the replica of the bell tower of St Mark's Basilica in Venice. Take a walk around the Carrera street, Bregovita street and Grisia street, the gallery 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 indoor pool in the wellness centre with Finnish sauna and massage.


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 Gaši, 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.


Truffles hunting

À la carte breakfast. Check-out from the hotel in the morning. Time permitting, we recommend that you go on a trip (upon request, personal transportation) on a truffle hunt in the Buzeštine forest. If you decide to do that, we can organise this adventure in the company of our guide and his excellent truffle-hunting dogs. 

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