We knew we were going to love Grozjan the second we spotted it on the drive up: a beautiful, tiny medieval town sprawled on a hilltop with stops on the side of the road to taste and buy local olive oil. We parked next to a gorgeous olive grove and that sealed our feelings before we even started wandering down the old cobblestone streets past colorful doors to the main, small square. Each corner we turned I told Cam, “oooooh!” Everyone we spoke to and every detail we took in was lovely. I loved the terrace cafe overlooking the hills with a view to the Adriatic and where we ate dinner in the square. We were the only ones there minus a couple on the next restaurant patio drinking wine. What really makes a place is the people. Everyone we talked with in Istria was relaxed, friendly and warm. I would not describe most Zagrebians that way when you first interact, but once you start to build a relationship, it’s almost overwhelming how kind and warm they are, and bring you in like family.
I wasn’t quick enough to park the chariot and capture it, but there was a point when the main attraction in Grozjan wasn’t wandering the cobblestone streets or sitting on a terrace drinking wine or kava while taking in a beautiful view. It was stopping to awe over and say hi to the cutest little munchkins! We met two sweet couples from Italy who told us that coming to this region of Istria made their hearts beat again. They even whispered that they enjoy it more than Tuscany.
Cam was talking with a couple and when he turned around, John Shea was happily eating a gelato, given to him by the doting owner of the small restaurant and gelateria.
We ate pasta with local truffles (you can’t miss it when in Istria!), shepherd’s salad, and the most delicious beef with mushrooms in a creamy sauce while on the terrace in the charming main square under the shade of centuries old trees. Our waiter brought us the owners’ Malvasia to try, made from their vineyard no more than 100 feet from where we were sitting. Somewhere inbetween drinking that amazing wine, walking through the darling streets, chatting with some of the lovely people who live there, and taking in the views over the hills at sunset, we fell in love with Grozjan!
If you ever travel to Grozjan with children, you may want to ask if there is free wifi available where you eat- most cafes and restaurants in Croatia offer it, because let’s be honest, Curious George on is the only chance of us being able to sit and eat with our wild man John Shea.
Also, Italian is one of the official languages of Istria, so if you speak it or atleast understand it better than Croatian, you’ll be able to get around well in this region!