People here often ask me if I like living in Istria. I’ve been here for nine months so far and I am enjoying life here. I reflected on what it is I like about living here and this is what I’ve come up with:
1. Quality of life. Locals often talk about how life is difficult here. It’s true that the economy is not in good shape, many young people are unemployed, there are few jobs available, pensions are impossible to live on, and those who are lucky to have a job sometimes don’t get paid on time – or for months at a stretch. But compared to other places I’ve lived in (always big cities), the quality of life is high here. What I mean by quality of life is the clean air, the clean water, wide open green spaces, and the availability of good quality food. Those who are able to make a decent living have a good quality of life which would not be possible in a big city (even with a big salary).
2. Nature. This is the first time I’m living in a rural setting and what I love most is being close to nature. I go on the most amazing walks and bicycle rides in the most beautiful landscapes. I can see (a sliver of) the sea from the village, and the Alps at a distance. The earth gives us delicacies like mushrooms, truffles and asparagus. We can grow our own food. On my walks I’ve seen deer, rabbits – and snakes! Oh, and I’ve found scorpions in the house – that’s a bit too close (to nature) for comfort!
3. The people. Istrians are generally friendly, down-to-earth and hospitable. They like to joke and laugh, eat and drink, and don’t take life too seriously. There’s a sense of community here; neighbours and family members are always coming by with something from their vegetable garden: lettuce, Swiss chard, potatoes, asparagus they’ve picked in the woods, or a bottle of homemade wine. People help each other out: the neighbour with a tractor will plough his neighbours’ fields, everyone pitches in during harvest season, and I see how company and support is offered to the people in the village who live alone. I also feel very safe here in a small community where everyone knows each other.
4. The architecture and landscape. I’ve visited almost 40 countries (39 to date) and Istria is for me one of the most beautiful regions I’ve seen. I love the landscape of rolling hills and beautiful medieval villages perched on hilltops dominated by a church spire. Then there are the scenic seaside towns jutting into the Adriatic sea with narrow, cobblestone streets and old stone houses framed with Venetian-style window shutters. There are so many places to explore in Istria, and though I’ve visited many, I feel like there’s still so much more to discover.
5. Number five. OK since I have four points, I may as well make it five. But I’m having trouble nailing the fifth… should I mention the light here which seems to have a golden tinge to it? Or the spectacular sunsets we see from the village even though we’re not on the coast (could it be because we’re at an altitude of 457 metres)? Or should I mention Istria's location at the crossroads of Europe, perched on the edge of east and west, making it easy to travel to Italy, just a hop, skip and jump away via Slovenia, another beautiful country on our doorstep. Or should I mention the laid-back Istrian lifestyle, where pomalo is a way of life?
Stay informed about updates to my blog by signing up for email updates here. You will receive a confirmation message - don't forget to click on the link to confirm your subscription!