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Jul 30th 2011 2:15AM Pity you missed Valsabbion,David. My doctor's surgery is on the top floor.
If you wanted to see why they call it the new Tuscany, you want northern Istria. The hill towns of Groznjan, currently hosting a three week jazz festival, or Motovun, whose annual film festival finished last night, would have convinced you in a flash.
Northern Istria is all vineyards, olive groves and amazing medieval towns precariously perched on hilltops.
Astonishingly, the vast majority of Istria's tourists never see the interior, remaining in the area's well developed coastal resorts and places like Groznjan are rarely crowded. I don't think I've ever seen a coach party there, although Motovun gets a few. As Reno, the popular Groznjan mayor says, nothing new has been built in Groznjan in 300 years, although it is all very well preserved. Wandering around listening to the strains of violinists or a pianist practicing in one of the music schools (Zagreb University has an external campus) is a treat for the senses.
The C6th Eurphrasian Basilica in Porec, that UNESCO says is the best preserved early Christian church still in daily use, might have surprised you, too.
Cyclists get a wonderful perspective of why it is dubbed the New Tuscany from the renovated trackbed of the former Parenzana narrow gauge railway that used to link Porec and Trieste and winds about incessantly, in its bid to gain height and drop down again, over the vineyard covered hills.
I moved here ten years ago and never tire of it. If you come again, get in touch and I'll show you why Istria is so amazing.