Grožnjan (or, Grisignana, as it is also referred to by its Italian name), a small Istrian town of great cultural significance not only in Croatia but also internationally, lives its summer months very intensely. Every year at the beginning of May, the little streets and squares of Grožnjan-Grisignana metamorphose and turn into a truly artistic beehive: it opens its summer music academies for young people, its artistic, dance and drama workshops and its peace activism workshops under the leadership of well-known experts and teachers and famous names from music, art and drama.
During those few summer months Grožnjan-Grisignana lives and breathes art and the labyrinth of its little streets become one great stage on which are constantly interchanging the sounds of jazz and classical music, guitar and piano, violin and cello, drum and vibraphone…
So say the people who know – the official Istrian website – about Grožnjan, yet another stunningly beautiful medieval hilltop town.
We were lucky enough to visit in July, when a jazz festival was in full swing, and although we only had a short stay, it was certainly enough to give us a flavour of this artistic colony, high up in the hills. We stayed for the night at Villa San Vito, right in the heart of Grožnjan. Renovated by the owners, it was once a baroque palace – although not “boutique”, it is certainly interesting, and our apartment, which opened out onto an orchard, had one of the most comfy beds we’ve slept in.
The beauty of Grožnjan cannot be underestimated. Around every corner, is something more jaw-dropping. It can only be described as like going back in history – but with mod cons in the background. Like all of Istria, public (and private) wi-fi is excellent. Italy – take note!
Because it’s so high, we were able to watch the sunset from a great vantage point, Kaya Energy Bar & Design. As described by Lonely Planet…
This family-run hideaway at the entrance to town has many faces in one – it’s a cafe, a bar, a shop, a showroom and a gallery, with a stylish stone interior, tables on the square and a lovely little terrace off to the side with fantastic valley views. It serves fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies, breakfasts, all-day snacks and good local malvazija wine.
This lovely bar, with outdoor seating and tables, on the town walls, with views across the Istrian plains to the Adriatic is just perfect. And when we refuelled next morning, breakfast was delicious with fresh juices and home made cakes.
Although on our visit, it was cloudy the next day, it didn’t spoil just how beautiful this town is – although I’d imagine when we return, and it’s warm and sunny, we’ll be quite blown away. Feast your eyes on Grožnjan…
For dinner, we were recommended Restaurant Bastia – and how glad we were that we took the advice. It’s the town’s oldest restaurant and is situated in a magnificent building, with three dining areas – a spacious internal courtyard on two levels, an upper external terrace and an external courtyard. Food was of very high quality – as was the house wine – and as ever, with Istria, the option to overload on truffles 🙂