Our house for sale is beautiful. It is a fully renovated three bedroom stone house over three floors, located in a stunning part of northern Istria, very close to the borders with Slovenia and Italy. It’s about 35 minutes from the Adriatic coast, an hour from Pula international airport and in the heart of wine and truffle country. But, as beautiful as we think it is, it is not suitable for everyone. It’s not the kind of holiday home, where you’d get a coach transfer from the airport, flop around the pool when you arrive, before heading out in the evening for the bright lights of town. We do not want to waste the time of any prospective purchasers or get up their hopes that they might have found the perfect party palace. So, as stunning as we think it is, if you are looking for the following features in a holiday home, ours is not going to be the one…
Hustle and Bustle
If you want a holiday home that’s right in the centre of the action, it definitely ain’t this house. We live (full-time) in a small village – and although we can boast three amazingly renowned restaurants on our doorstep – that’s it. The nearest shop is a couple of kilometres away – as is the nearest cashpoint and bar. There are no close-by night clubs to trip the light fantastic in. The nearest petrol station is about 12kms away – so you have to be pretty organised. But, as it’s in the nearest town to the closest supermarket, fabulous pizza restaurants, banks, notary and DIY place, then you do soon learn to be organised.
On the Seafront
The sea is about half an hour to the west and about an hour to the east, from the house, but we often travel further afield to find remote coves and beaches. So, if you want to be able to pack a towel and a lilo under your arm, and head across the road, with the rest of the sea-seekers, you’re not going to be able to do it from our front door.
Easy Transport Links
This one is KEY. If you don’t drive or don’t have a car, our house would be a nightmare for you. Public transport in Istria (especially in the north) is, if we’re being honest, pretty non-existent. You can book a taxi from the local town, but if you were to be totally reliant on taxis, it would drive you mad within a couple of days. The local school bus seems to be the only regular form of transport – OK if you are 12 and going to your lessons. Not so good for anything else. There are no train links. No trams. So, without a car (either your own or hired) getting around would be very difficult.
A Built Up Tourist Area
Our home is in a village. A village of locals – restauranteurs, farmers, retired people – and people who have second homes here. People who are pretty self-sufficient, too. So, you won’t find fast food places, stalls selling generally cheap tat, money exchanges etc. The usual stuff you might find in & around a beach resort. If you want to be cheek by jowl with lots of other people, too, on the beach, or in restaurants, this probably isn’t the place for you either. Space is definitely not at a premium here – it’s what we have lots of!
But, if you want some, or all of the following, then our house maybe just perfect…
Peace & Quiet
Some days, we rarely see a car go past the house. But, we’re not hidden away in the hills. We are near a main road – it’s just not busy all the time. There’ll always be a few tractors, trundling up and down the road, between the fields and villages. Sometimes – especially in the summer – there will be cars and motor homes and camper vans and motorbikes and cyclists, touring the area or heading to their holiday accommodation or one of the restaurants. A few times we’ve had processions of classic cars, off to their next meet-up. But because we are set back from the road, with a wall of bamboos shielding us, it feels like we have total privacy. Especially when all we can hear is birdsong or crickets or woodpeckers or a tractor in a nearby field.
Proximity to the Sea
Although the sea is not on our doorstep, we can easily be dipping our toes in The Adriatic. Although always a drive away, every drive is through the most amazing countryside – hills, fields, vineyards, forests, magical villages, hilltop towns – and the sea, always at the end of the journey. Our nearest largest town is where we do our supermarket shopping, and it’s right on the north west coast, so we can always combine a shop with a trip to the sea. Further afield, we can be in the beautiful Venetian-esque harbour town of Rovinj, or the Roman port of Pula. The sliver of Slovenian coast, with the stunning towns of Piran, Izola and Portorož can be reached in less than forty minutes. And the cosmopolitan and beautiful Trieste, just inside the Italian border, in just about the same amount of time. For us, the positive of being a little more inland, is that we can easily get to the sea, but we can also get away, especially in the summer, when these places can become crowded, and escape to our cool rural haven.
Proximity to Medieval & Venetian Towns and Villages
The Istrian peninsula is littered with the most magical towns and villages. All full of history and charm and beauty. Some are nestled on top of hills, having once been fortifications to keep out invaders, such as Oprtalj, Motovun, Grožnjan and Piemonte – all very close to the house. Some are very Italian in style – unsurprising as Istria was ruled by Venice from the 13th century until the fall of Venice in 1797. Rovinj, on the western coast is perhaps the most beautiful example of an Italian style town, with its pastel coloured houses, with ornate balconies and shutters, fringing the harbour. To the east of the peninsula (but less than an hour from the house), is the grand Austro-Hungarian resort of Opatija, and the thriving, buzzing, arty city of Rijeka. Further south, is the medieval town of Svetvinčenat, with its magnificent restored castle, in the centre. Pula, Istria’s main city, is an hour away – and with an almost perfect amphitheatre and a Forum, blink – and you could be in Rome.
The Possibility to Travel Easily
We’ve made it very clear that having a car in these parts is pretty essential, as you can’t rely on taxis or public transport. However, once you get your head around the fact that you will do an awful lot of driving, it can be an absolute pleasure. Roads are generally quiet – even in the height of the tourist season, it’s rare to get stuck in a traffic jam. Although we can’t guarantee you won’t get stuck behind a tractor…
One of the reasons we purchased our house, is its location. Yes, it’s in a village – but it’s not isolated. Within ten minutes, we can be across the border into Slovenia (twenty minutes if you need to cross one of the larger border points) and within thirty minutes, we’re in Italy. We’ve travelled extensively since we arrived here. We’ve been to places we would never have considered if we’d had to travel to them from Manchester. It’s still such a thrill to get in the car and head south to beautiful Croatian islands, east to Zagreb, north to Ljubljana, west to Venice or Bergamo. We’ve driven to Austria for a birthday weekend. Down to Cesena in Emilia-Romagna to see a band. When we do return to the UK, we tend to drive now, as we can make a real trip out of it.
We do still fly – but, unlike in the UK when flying meant using big international airports, it’s much, much pleasurable these days. Pula, in the south of the peninsula, does have an international airport, and although it’s been expanded since we first flew into it, it’s still smaller than any of the terminals in Manchester airport. But, with flights to most places in Europe you’d want to go to. Other accessible airports include Zadar, Trieste, Treviso, Venice, Ljubljana and Zagreb. We also drive to Bergamo in northern Italy for flights. Everything just seems so much easier – and the real bonus is we are really discovering the countries around us. Ferries also connect us with a lot of the Adriatic and Mediterranean countries and islands. From Pula, Rovinj, Porec and Trieste we can sail to destinations further south in Croatia and across to Italy, where we can then connect with Greece and the islands. So, if you like the idea of being able to get in the car and discover new destinations, easily, you might like our house…
With a peninsula packed full of history, beauty, tiny villages, ancient towns, vineyards and wineries, the best restaurants, cycling routes, festivals and much, much more, we couldn’t recommend Istria highly enough as a place to own a holiday home. In the four years that we have lived here (even with a pandemic to contend with), we’re seeing its popularity grow. Abandoned houses are being renovated. New, modern and contemporary properties, are being built, sitting alongside their stone counterparts. New businesses are emerging. All meaning, that now might be the time to take the plunge and think about making your dream become a reality. Especially if you want the kind of things we highlight.
If you want to know more about our house for sale, do visit our website – or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll provide you with all of the answers you need.