Istria – An Unspoilt Corner of Croatia18th May 2018 • Places to Visit • Stephanie Donaldson
We have just returned from a week revelling in the abundance of wild flowers, birds and butterflies of Istria. We try and do one of these holidays somewhere in Europe each year with the specialist wildlife travel company Naturetrek (We pay – this is not an advertorial!). I love to see plants in their native habitats, partly because it helps me grow them better in my own garden, but mainly because my idea of heaven is to wander through meadows, explore woodlands and climb to high places to see what grows there in the company of botanists who know more than I do.
A quick note of apology for the lack of consistency (or absence of) plant names. If I had a week to spare it would be done, but with a feature to write and Chelsea looming, there just isn’t time and I wanted to write this blog while it’s all still fresh in my mind.
The northern part of the Istrian Peninsula is an area of karst limestone crags, peaks and plateaus, forested slopes and fertile valleys where strip farming still predominates.
The overwhelming impression, as we looked across vistas of mountains and forests, was of somewhere that the wild places still dominate.
In the turbulent past, the Tuscan style hilltop towns were easily defended, but some still show signs of 20th century conflicts, while many of the tiny hamlets are all but abandoned after the inhabitants were killed for partisan activities. More recently, the younger generations have rejected life in the countryside to find work in the cities, so many of the remoter villages we passed through had few inhabited buildings.