Sightseeing in Motovun is a trip to the past when the town was part of the Venetian empire. Reminders of the former Venetian rulers are everywhere: 14th century stone lions (Venice's symbol) stand sentry over the town gates and coats of arms adorn the buildings. Architect Andrea Palladio designed the late-Renaissance town church of St. Stephen. Francesco Bonazzo contributed the marble statues of St. Stephen and St. Laurence, and an unknown 17th-century Venetian produced the painting of the Last Supper behind the church's altar.
Other sightseeing highlights include the Renaissance Municipal Palace, the largest secular building in Istria from that period. Notice also the water cisterns of the town in the town square with pipes that date from the 14th and 15th centuries.
Take a walk around the town walls of Motovun: The sweeping view takes in the vineyards that produce Motovun's fine Teran and Malvasija wine and the forests that harbour Istria's prized white and black truffles.
If you visit during the last week of July or the beginning of August, don't miss Motovun's International Film Festival, which presents independent and avant-garde films from the U.S. and Europe. The festive atmosphere is nonetheless informal and relaxed (no red carpet à la the Cannes Film Festival). For the festival's five days, some 60 films are shown at five different locations with 1500 available seats. In addition to the film series, you can visit exhibitions, concerts and conferences or just party with the other 30,000 or so people that stream in and out of the village.
Although most people come on a day trip, it's possible to stay in Motovun at the three-star Hotel Kastel. It's a Renaissance manor house built in the 17th century, centrally located and its restaurant serves up delicious truffle dishes. Also in the town of Motovun is the spectacularly renovated House of Gold with rooms in contemporary decor. Another great option is to stay in Hotel Restaurant Zigante, a four-star hotel and first-rate restaurant in nearby Livade. For the full resort experience, try the nearby thermal spa resort of Istarske Toplice.
The Motovun tourist office (052-616-906) is at Trg Andrea Antica 1.
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