Seven family farms and entrepreneurs in northern Istria, more precisely in Vrhuvština, have designed a new tourist product called NICE - North Istria Countryside Experience. The micro-location around Vrh near Buzet has proven to be an ideal place that offers interesting facilities for domestic and foreign tourists.
It is an all-day, highly personalized eno and gastro adventure for all who are looking for something more from Istria, more authentic and new. The hosts introduce guests to their story through six tour points, accompanied by a personal tour guide. Visitors will hear interesting stories, meet local people, taste sparkling wine, wine, truffles, prosciutto, homemade pasta, organically grown vegetables and solve simple fun tasks, so they can fill their NICE bag indigenous northern Istrian products.
But let's start from the beginning. Vrh is a small place in the heart of northern Istria, at 400 meters above sea level from whose bell tower you can see 100 villages and hamlets in Istria. A real small lookout reveals the beautiful green hills of Ćićarija, Lake Butoniga, Motovun forest and Učka, the highest Istrian mountain. Vrh and Vrhuvština are known for three valuables: quality wine and sparkling wine, extra quality olive oil and the most expensive underground mushroom in the world - Istrian white truffle.
Thus begins the story of the NICE team, which includes Butoniga Nature, growers of organic untreated vegetables and processed products, then the truffle family company Karlić truffles, and there is the Family Farm Jermaniš, which produces brandies and liqueurs. The story would not be complete without Konoba Vrh, Penjušaca Grbac, a producer of premium sparkling wine, and Vina Sirotić. Of course, there is also Zdenka Majcan from the travel agency Istriana travel. A local tourist guide and heritage interpreter lives in Vrh and is a hostess during this tour. It tells guests interesting stories about the sites in English, French, Italian or Croatian.
"The idea for this project was created with the desire to unite the tourist sections of a micro-location in northern Istria, which usually cooperate with each other, in order to be easier and simpler to present on the tourist market. The seven of us participants in Vrhuvština decided to sit at the table and arrange a program that will be attractive, interesting, dynamic, full of taste and a real small event for our guests. We wanted it to become a real adventure for individual guests and smaller groups of tourists, where they will fill their NICE bag with products that we produce in Vrhuvština with interesting tasks and tastings. In addition, they will get to know the local people, their way of life and actually experience how and what they live on in Vrhuvština. When we put together the story, we designed our own logo that accompanies it, and each stakeholder on the tour is recognized by the NICE T-shirt he wears, while guests at the beginning of the tour receive their NICE ecological bag, in which they will collect their delicious souvenirs. - explains Zdenka Majcan.
As part of the NICE tour, Adriano will teach guests how to make their first sparkling wine, and Ivana and Ivan will show where and how to find truffles. Kristijan and his father Ivan get to know their "home pharmacy", taste the most delicious home-made brandies, which are also medicines for various conditions of the body, and are carefully made from selected indigenous plants and fruits. Drazen and Emina are young enthusiasts and producers of organic fruits and vegetables. They will intrigue visitors with works in their field and the preparation of winter, while Dari will taste the best Teran, Malvasia and Muscat in northern Istria. At the very end, the guests will be greeted by Melita and Dejan in their tavern in Vrh with the last task before lunch, which they will personally prepare. During lunch, the hosts guarantee a real rhapsody of taste for the palate and all the senses.
“The tour lasts about seven hours, so it is all day long and very personalized. It can also be realized as a two-day or multi-day walking tour, a one-day tour based on our own transport or our transfer, as an e-bike tour and the like. Given that we only recently had a promotion of this tour, the feedback is more than positive, people are thrilled that there is one new tourist attraction that arrives at this COVID time as booked because most of the time is spent outdoors. Although our focus for this tour is mainly on English-speaking guests, a version of the NICE tour for domestic guests will soon see the light of day. For now, we are recording the interest of domestic and foreign travel agencies that would like to incorporate this program into their arrangements, and we are receiving inquiries from countries in the region. " - said Majcan.
As a memento of their stay in Vrhovština and spending time with the NICE team, visitors will be left with a NICE bag full of Istrian flavors. It will contain organically grown foods, quality wines, fresh truffles, handmade sparkling wine, homemade brandies as medicines, homemade pasta and much more. Finally let’s say the NICE tour takes place from March to January. The meeting point is the church bell tower in Vrh, and the tour lasts about seven and a half hours.
The fact is that Vrh and Vrhuvština are not at sea, although sometimes you can see it after the rain. But this part of Istria has a lot of interesting things to offer guests. There are many interesting people to meet, food and drinks to taste, activities to try, stories to tell, which we believe will remain in the memory of all visitors for a long time.