Fifteen kilometres northwest of Pazin is perhaps the most famous of the Istrian hill towns, MOTOWN (Montona), an unwieldy clump of houses straddling a green wooded hill, high above a patchwork of wheatfields and vineyards. The place has a genuine medieval charm, exuding a tranquil nobility unequalled in Istria. Like so many towns in Istria, Motovun was predominantly Italian-speaking until the 1940s (when racing driver Mario Andretti was born here), after which most of the inhabitants left for Italy.The problem of depopulation was partly solved by turning Motovun into an artists' colony – the godfather of Croatian naive art, Krsto Hegedušić, was one of the first painters to move here in the 1960s – and several studios and craft shops open their doors to tourists over the summer.

A winding road zigzags its way up from the valley floor, eventually passing through two gates which breach the stout ramparts surrounding the old town. The first of the gates has a display of stone reliefs of Venetian lions inside the arch, while the second, 100m beyond, leads directly out onto a main square fronted by the Renaissance St Stephen's Church (Crkva svetog Stjepana), topped by a campanile whose crenellated top looks like a row of jagged teeth. The town's water supply used to be kept in a vast tank beneath the square, hence the medieval well in front of the church bearing a relief of Motovun's skyline with its five towers. At the far end of the square, a path leads to a promenade around the town battlements made up of two concentric walls with a tiny moat (nowadays dry) in between. From here there are fantastic views over the Mirna Valley and surrounding countryside, which produces some of the finest Istrian wines –Teran and Malvasija are among the better known.

There are five buses daily to Motovun from Pazin in July and August, although this dwindles to one a day out of season. The twice daily Pula–Buzet bus picks up and drops off at the bottom of Motovun's hill. Up on the main square, the Kaštel hotel offers simple en-suite rooms in a building of medieval origins, and also harbours a cafe and restaurant. All accommodation in the entire region is likely to be booked solid during the Motovun Film Festival, which usually straddles a long weekend at the end of July or beginning of August. Since its inception in 1999 the festival has established itself as Croatia's premier cinematic event, with feature films (European art-house movies for the most part) premiered on an open-air screen in the main town square. Featuring a minimum of segregation between stars and public, the festival is also one of the key social events of the summer, with thousands of celebrants ascending Motovun's hi- although most are here to enjoy the 24-hour party atmosphere rather than the films.


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