About 10km east of Buzet, flamed against the backdrop of the limestone wag of the Ćićarija, the dainty village of Roč sits snugly behind sixteenth-century walls so low that the place looks more like a child's sandcastle than an erstwhile medieval strongpoint. Roc has a strong folk music tradition, with performing skills passed down from one generation to the next, and almost the entire population is involved in some capacity or other with the local folk music society, Istarski zeljezničar ("Istrian railwayman"), which has a brass section, male and female choirs and an accordion band. Most members of the latter are devoted exponents of the Treištine, an archaic form of accordion which features push-buttons instead of a keyboard, and is rarely found outside Istria and northeastern Italy. The best time to catch them is during the international accordion festival (Z armoniku v Roc), which takes place on the second weekend in May: the tourist office in Buzet will have details.

With their neat rows of sturdy stone farmhouses, the narrow lanes of Roc provide a wonderful environment in which to savour the rustic atmosphere of eastern Istria. There's a small display of Roman tombstones inside the arch of the main gate into town, and the Romanesque St Anthony's Church (Crkva svetog Antuna) in the centre, an ancient, barn-like structure lurking behind an enormous Chesnut tree and sporting an unusually asymmetrical bell tower.

Buzet–Rijeka buses will drop you off at the Roc turn-off 500m from the village, while the train station (on the Pula–Buzet line) is about 1500m east of the village. For food, Ročka konoba in the centre of the village is a good place for asparagus and truffles in season, as well as the regular repertoire of ombolo, kobasice and fuze.

If you've got your own transport, you can follow the road leading northwest out of Roc to get up onto the summit of the ćićarija ridge (follow signs to the village of Nugla, pass through it, and keep going for about 3km). Crossing heathland covered in conifers and sub-alpine meadows, the road ends up at Raspadalica, a local beauty spot which serves as an ideal launch-pad for local hang-gliding enthusiasts, and offers fine views to everyone else.There's a superb panorama of the Mirna valley, with Buzet down below and the hill town of Motovun in the distance.


Flightnetwork.com -Specializing in Cheap Flights F