Located atop a hill offering a 360° panorama, the Mediaeval town of Buje seems as if it's guarding the surrounding vineyards and olive groves the region is known for.
Buje - the Sentinel of Istria
Located on top of a hill some 10 kilometres inland, Buje deserves a visit for the stunning panorama it offers. To one side, the sea and the thin blue line of The Dolomites, to the other, the inland, olive orchards, vineyards and cycling/hiking paths going every which way.
Coming to Buje, you'll notice two bell towers and walls that were restored between the 15th and 17th century and which contain a striking medieval tower. The second church was allegedly built by a wealthy inhabitant who having bought a statue of the Blessed Virgin in Venice, arrived late at night and left the statue in front of the city gates. When he returned the next morning, the figure could not be moved - so they built a church around her.
Once you pass through the city gates and walk through the narrow cobbled streets, you might discover one of the few taverns. Whichever you choose, you're in for a treat: truffles, Istrian prosciutto, game, fish, locally sourced veg and wine.
The region of Buje is a sampling paradise for the Bonvivans of this world looking for crisp, fresh, fruity whites of Malvasia, or for fuller, stronger reds, like Teran - both native to the Istrian soil. Around Buje, there are 23 local wine producers that you can visit, sample wines and then take some home.
Bujština (what locals call the region around Buje) is well known for its olive oils too. Green, spicy and full-bodied, mild and fruity, so if you have a preference, ask to try the oil before buying it.
Medieval hilltop towns
If you come by car or can cycle a lot, visit Motovun or Grožnjan - both old castle towns, surrounded by retaining walls that are now art colonies and jazz festival spots. Drink in the view from the top of the hill. Enjoy a plate of pasta with truffles found in the local woods or go crazy and ask for a Boškarin steak (Boškarin is an ancient cow breed, previously used to pull oxen carts and now raised as a local delicacy, this way also saved from extinction).
Deep down underground
Cave lovers will come into their own, as there are a few caves near Buje which you can explore like Grotta Baredine, which descends 60 meters underground down a 300 m pathway and allows you to visit an underground lake and 5 beautifully decorated chambers. The deepest point of the cave is at 132m and the temperature is delightful at 14°C.
Cave Mramornica was described in 1770 by the famous travel writer Alberto Fortis, who first noted different coloured dripstones and 13 meter tall stalagmites that make Mramornica special and a great place to cool off when the summer heat starts getting to you.
All the way to the stars
If you feel like watching the stars, the astronomy observation post in Višnjan is open to the public - just check the times and go see the stars.