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Istria: where Italian culture is always alive

This article is also available in: Italian

Istria is a roughly triangular shaped peninsula in the northern Adriatic with an area of approximately 3,600 km², located between Trieste and Rijeka (Fiume). Today the peninsula belongs largely to Croatia (about 89% of the Istrian territory is Croatian). Only a short coastal strip is part of Slovenia, including the municipalities of Koper (Capodistria), Izola (Isola d’Istria) and Piran (Pirano). While the two municipalities of Muggia and San Dorligo della Valle are part of Italy.

Ancient Venetian land, the Istrian peninsula was Italian until the end of the Second World War, when it was annexed to Yugoslavia and the majority of the population (an estimated 300,000 people) was forced into a forced exodus to Italy. Many municipalities, particularly along the coast, are bilingual Italian-Croatian in Croatia and Italian-Slovenian in Slovenia. The Italian minority that still inhabits Istria is made up of about 30,000 people.


The region consists of a plateau largely of limestone origin, rich in karst phenomena, geographically divided into three areas: White Istria, Yellow Istria and Red Istria, so called due to the predominant color of the land.

In White Istria, which includes the northeastern mountainous area of the peninsula, white limestones predominate. In Yellow Istria (sometimes also called Gray or Green), which includes the central area of the peninsula, between Pazin (Pisino) and Buzet (Pinguente), the soil is formed by clayey rocks.

While in Red Istria, south of Pazin (Pisino) the limestone rock is covered with a layer of earth made red by the presence of ferrous residues. The coasts of Istria are rather indented and characterized by the presence of river valleys submerged by the sea such as that of the Limski Kanal.

The interior of the region is formed by a plateau, which in the northern part, the so-called Cicceria (Ćićarija), has an average height of 500 meters. In the Istrian territory there are mountain ranges that reach the maximum elevation in the north-eastern section with the Učka mountain (1,396 meters). In the central part, the plateau has average heights of around 300 meters and drops further towards the south.


The main center of the Croatian Istrian region is the city of Pula (Pola). This is a city rich in Roman remains, such as the Arena, a large Roman amphitheater. Other interesting centers to visit are Pazin (Pisino), Poreč (Parenzo), Rovinj (Rovigno), Labin (Albona), Umag (Umago), Motovun (Montona), Buzet (Pinguente), and Buje (Buie).

Tourism is the region’s main source of income. The most important attractions of Istria are its renowned seaside resorts and its crystal clear sea. But the beauty of its historic centers of Venetian origin and aspect, the numerous Roman remains such as in Nesazio, Pula (Pola) and Poreč (Parenzo) should not be underestimated. Finally, it is important to know that the episcopal complex of the Euphrasian basilica in Poreč (Parenzo) is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When to go. What to visit in Istria.



This article is also available in: Italian

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