By Noreen Campbell
This year, attracted by clean and clear blue Adriatic seas, brilliant sunshine and a quiet pace of life, visitors from all over Europe will again throng to Croatia, which is set to enjoy its busiest tourist season ever.
And, as noted in Croatia Week’s article, “Three villages up for world ‘Best Tourism villages’ award”, increasing numbers are attracted to the country’s rural areas. A short 7km from the sea, Kaštelir is such an area.
A village atop a hillside, Kaštelir was recently nominated as ‘eco village’ of Croatia, representing the province of Istria in the World Tourism Organisation’s global eco village awards.
This is an amazing achievement for a small village of 1,500 residents but it is well deserved. Renowned for its sea views and easy access to beaches and to the historic towns of Poreč, Rovinj, Motovun and Grožnjan, it is the rustic beauty of the area which is making Kaštelir increasingly popular with holidaymakers and second home-owners alike.
Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, Kaštelir hosts a variety of walks and bike rides where the beauty of the countryside can be appreciated: the rich red soil, the blue skies and the silvered foliage of the olive provide a therapeutic retreat from the working world.
Now to this oasis, a new slice of peace has been added: the Castellana microbrewery and bar. Tucked down a side street, just off the village square, you will find this delightful establishment. Using barley grown and harvested on their own local fields, this state of the art brewery produces a range of the finest artisanal beers, complemented by a range of the best local produce.
The quality of the drinks is exceptional, the food showcasing local free-range meats and cheeses is second to none and the surroundings are captivating. Step through the welcoming door, down three steps and find yourself in a space designed to soothe and delight.
The ancient townhouse has been restored to create a beautiful bar; the natural stone and wood finishes combine in a simple style to create an ambience of quiet; a space for reflection over a quiet beer.
Large windows give a view to the microbrewery and to the kitchen. Through the bar is a delightful patio where you can sit by the pool enjoying your cool beer. The only sound is from the hens in the accompanying, small farm. This is country living at its best.
Founded by a returning son of Kaštelir, Gabriel De Faveri and his wife, Tina, a renowned musician, Castellana represents a major investment in the area. It is a statement of belief in the village and in the type of tourism and development which will ensure the unchanging nature of the Kaštelir is maintained as it looks to cement its position at the cutting edge of sustainable tourism. Villages that are exceptional examples of rural tourism destinations and are committed to sustainability in all its forms – economic, social and environmental – will be given “Best Tourism Villages” awards. Kaštelir is such a village.
The purpose of the UNWTO initiative is to strengthen the role of tourism as a positive force for transformation, rural development and community well-being in an effort to reduce regional inequalities and fight depopulation of rural areas. The development of Castellana plays a significant role in the growing importance of Kaštelir as a model of eco-tourism and Istrian perfection.