The land of wine, fruit and olives
Brtonigla and its surrounding villages are located on the sunny hills and green valleys of the Istrian interior, where the fresh sea breeze meets the floral and fruity scents of nature. Other larger settlements of the Brtonigla Municipality include Nova Vas, Karigador, Radini and Fiorini. What is interesting is that the municipality extends from the coast well into the interior, between Novigrad and Umag. It was this diversity, among other factors, which led to the creation of the natural phenomenon of the area; namely, all four types of soil present in Istria can be found in one place here. This story is so interesting that we decided to dedicate a whole text to it. In fact, the very place was named after the black soil! The Brtonigla soil is also the source of other magic ingredients and frits – the famous Istrian truffles and mushrooms, such as field, porcini, clustered coral and Caesar’s mushrooms. They can also be found in autumn, a great time to come and visit Brtonigla.
We also shouldn’t forget the superb olives and olive oil, the various vegetables and aromatic herbs, as well as the obligatory grape harvests. Although Brtonigla’s hill is not as tall as those of some of the other towns of Northwest Istria, the whole area is turned slightly towards the sea, making the slopes surrounding the town the ideal home to vineyards perfectly suited for the cultivation of the famed Istrian Malvasia, Teran, Muscat, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and other varieties. Considering the small population of the Brtonigla Municipality, there is a surprisingly large quantity of wine produced in the area – in fact it has the largest quantity of wine produced per capita in Istria, accounting for no less than 10% of the total wine production there! Many famous Istrian wine producers are established exactly in this area, providing the town with the title of the “town of wine#, confirmed by the fact of its ten-year-long membership in the international association Towns of Wine (Città del Vino).
Natural, cultural and historical sites
The area surrounding Brtonigla is rich with landscapes and nature that will leave you breathless, and the right place to start your exploration of them is the center of Brtonigla itself! There you will find the excellently marked walking path San Rocco, as well as a map with pointed out sites to visit along the way – from the lesser-known natural wonders to the famous Mramornica Cave and the Škarline Nature Park. Cyclists will also find something of interest to them – one of the many local cycling paths which will make the ride more interesting by offering visits to local micro-wineries and other gourmet destinations.
What is often overlooked when it comes to Brtonigla, however, is its art scene. A long tradition of art in Brtonigla came to the center of attention in the early 70′s when the academic sculptor Aleksandar Rukavina and the painter Paolo Lakota moved here. Rukavina’s studio has been converted into an exhibition space and commemorative gallery which we highly recommend you visit with prior notification. But it wasn’t only the last century that made Brtonigla an important cultural destination – it has been one since antiquity. History lovers will find many interesting monuments and archaeological remains testifying to a rich past. One of them is the exhibition space of the Italian Community headquarters in the center of Brtonigla. Near Brtonigla you will also find the valuable Church of Sveti Lovre (St. Lawrence), the Church of Gospa Lurdska (Our Lady of Lourdes) in Mali Radini, and the archaeological sites St. Martin’s Well and the Monks’ Garden. Near Nova Vas you can see the Castle of Sveti Juraj (St. George) and the archaeological sites in the Cave of Sveti Juraj (St. George) and the Valaron Fort.
If this story has intrigued you, you are probably wondering when the best time to come and visit would be. There are numerous festivities, festivals and gourmet events throughout the year in Brtonigla and the surrounding areas. In winter it is the home of the Choco & Wine Fest, and in the spring it gather visitors to the cake and flower-filled celebration of Ottava (the local name for the first Sunday after Easter) in Fiorini. The summer is marked by the Festival of Istrian Malvasia in Brtonigla – and this year will mark the 30th anniversary of the event, the Karigador Nights on the romantic pier in Karigador, and the Sveti Roko (St. Rocco) festivity dedicated to traditions, flavors and aromas. In the fall it hosts the Mushroom Days, while the end of the year is celebrated in the Christmas Fair. Then there are also the gourmet days of Istrian specialties held in local restaurants and taverns.