The heart of central Istria is Motovun, a town that sits high on a hill just 25km from the coast, reached by a winding, narrow road that bends its way around the mountain face and appears as a deserted island above the clouds in the winter months. Despite being a popular destination for day-trippers over the years the town remains unchanged for centuries and takes you a step back in time; even the cars have to be parked at the entrance to the town.
The walls surrounding the old town (in the form of the circle and two semi-circles) have been preserved throughout their entire length and offer spectacular views of the hills, Motovun Forest, and vineyards that produce Motovun's Teran and Malvazija wine. Within the walls, the town's marvellous palaces, stone-tiled squares, nine towers and lion-guarded gates stand as landmarks of a former Venetian rule.
The Church of St. Stephen, built by the architect Andrea Palladio at the beginning of the 17th century, dominates the central square. Marble statues of St. Stephen and St. Laurence were designed by Francesko Bonazzo and the painting of the Last Supper behind the altar was produced by an unknown 17th-century Venetian.
Walking along the narrow, cobbled streets, you see artists at work, their paintings, sculptures, pottery and hand-painted textiles and scarves hanging on the walls of studios. The end of July is the liveliest time of the year in Motovun, when thousands of film lovers descend for the Motovun Film Festival.