Taste the unparalleled flavors from the Adriatic to the Alps on this custom tailored tour that will forever more define “gourmet.” From the spectacular Adriatic Sea to the pearled Julian Alps, stretching between Croatia, Slovenia, and northeastern Italy, you will discover the remarkable landscapes and the unforgettable dishes that can no longer be kept secret. Magnificent caves abound and medieval towns decorate the plush countryside. From fabulous truffle hunting to wine tasting in a grand castle,...
Oprtalj - Over Land and Sea
Begin your Croatia tour by arriving in the small village of Oprtalj by way of Trieste, Italy. There is no doubt that the beauty outside of the windows en route to the small village is breathtaking. It looks like you have ventured into the Tuscan hills, or have hidden away in the Austrian countryside; except you have made your way into Croatia, an undoubtedly beautiful country that continues to live in wonderful partial-secrecy. Located in on the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, the greenery carpets the hills where vineyards run along the terraces; you can look out into the vast rolling landscape and see mountains at the horizon.
A cool breeze strokes your hair and the surrounding leaves. There is a natural draw for any and every level of foodie, from those who have searched their entire life for authentic cuisine hidden in the mountaintops of distant lands, to people that just want to enjoy a tasty meal in the comfort of beautiful scenery and unparalleled company. Near the village is the location where Giancarlo Zigante discovered the world’s largest truffle in 1999. From truffles to the Renaissance the region’s cultured love of olive and wine-growing, the aromas that pass through the hills make your mouth water as the scenery welcomes you to someplace like home.
Day 2 - 3
Oprtalj - Artistic Medieval Streets and Wineries of Grožnjan
The morning light casts a gleam over the tremendous greenery that surrounds the plateaued village. The succulent perfume of breakfast seems to drift through the meandering narrow streets. In the late morning, you will have a visit to the hilltop village of Grožnjan, where artists, musicians, and artisans have added to the charming stature. In the summer months, the streets transform into an artistic enclave, filled with music academies, dance performances, and more all spreading throughout the village’s labyrinthine streets. Stroll through the historic streets. Your steps on the cobblestone streets echo along the walls bouncing off eclectic galleries. The views are splendid, giving a grander display of the outstretched valley and far-reaching hills.
With the day at your whim to leisure away along the streets of medieval fantasy, there is no better time to luxuriate amongst the delicate and diverse flavors of the Istria countryside. Kozlović is a vintner that produces exquisite wine with subtle and supple flavors remarking on the fabulous Croatian terrain. The vineyard, like the landscape itself, blossoms along the horizon springing fresh greenery and a welcomed earthiness to the air. Sip on their famed Malvasia varietal, known for its lemon coloration and nose of ripe fruit like peaches and nectarine, followed by a creamy palate of grapefruit flavors that provides you with a lovely sampling of the best of Istrian wine-making. The owner, Luciano Visintin, is filled with the intense passion and friendliness that has developed from family history and is deeply rooted in the personality of the wines and olive oils they produce. Dinner at Damir and Ornella’s offers fresh fish caught that day, prepared for you at the table to order in what they have named “Mediterranean Sashimi.” The more you the time you spend in Croatia the more you realize that much of its luster comes in remarkable edible form.
Kobarid - Grandeur of the Alps
Say good morning and goodbye to the Croatian countryside after a light café breakfast. Soon you will find yourself over the Slovenian border at Škocjan Caves. The breathtaking system of limestone caves expands to almost four-miles of underground caverns and sinks to over 600 feet at its deepest point. There is an eerie and exhilarating spaciousness that weaves around the karsts. Rushing water echoes through the vast openness. Standing on the main bridge you can look down into the flowing water and see the incredible depths at which the cave drops. The limestone mixes with the moisture to add an earthy scent to the cavernous atmosphere. Light fixtures help illuminate the walkway and give an emerald glow to the Reka River that rushes through the system.
Stop for lunch at the 11th century Dornberk Castle before arriving in the stunning town of Kobarid, situated at the foothills of Soca Valley which climb up to Mount Krn. The vibrant greenery that sweeps across the valley and over the mountains is almost unimaginable. The only things more remarkable than the rich valley and mountainside are the towering peaks above them, whether covered in snow or showing off their limestone grandeur. The town itself resembles a quaint alpine village, where the quiet draw of the streets is surrounded by the splendor of its surroundings. Whether a tranquil evening in your comfortable hotel or strolling along the Gastronomic Circle filled with restaurants offering tasty treats from recipes that have been passed down for generations, you will quickly find the majesty of Kobarid.
Day 5 - 6
Kobarid - Following the Footsteps of Ernest Hemingway
There is a wonder in the Julian Alps that surround the Soca Valley. Placid lakes reflect their surroundings, from quintessential churches to endless blue sky. Today you will settle into the fantastic accommodation of Hiša Franko. Ernest Hemingway stayed in the charming site at the fringes of World War I, and the rumor states it is the location where he wrote, A Farewell to Arms. The alpine scenery is bejeweled with hot springs and castles, luxuries and comforts, all set within the undulating mountain peaks that give grace and tone to your time in Slovenia. Hiša Franko’s award-winning chef, Ana Roš, will offer you a tremendous tour of her cheese storehouse located in the lower-levels of the hotel, along with her herb and vegetable garden in the back. The cheese cellar looks more like an artesian showroom, where indigenous cheeses like Tolminc and Voski are aged, each variety paired with local honey and marmalade. The scenery is delectable, the food is desirous, and together they are perfection.
Kobarid - Glimpses into the Past of History
Today you will venture through the town of Kaborid to the Kobariški Museum, which displays memoriam of the Soča River and the World War I front that separated Italy from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The exterior is unassuming, consistent with the architecture and tranquility of the entire town; however, once inside the museum you can see the remarkable collection that showcases the past, from the faces and artifacts of those who fought hardily during the Great War that changed the modern landscape and geography of the area, to a documentary detailing particular instances, the strife, and the power of World War I which continues to inform and shape the region.
In the midday you cross into the Italian city of Cividale del Friuli. You will be met by a local guide who will take you through the ancient city that was founded by Julius Caesar in 53 BC. Cross Il Ponte del Diavolo, the Bridge of the Devil. A symbol of the city, the stone arch contains a devil-related myth that has stretched over the bridge since the 15th century; the bridge was rebuilt after World War I. The history is alive along the streets and architecture. You can see saints around the vista of the Longobardo Temple, jutting out from the walls in clean and precise poses, blessing and watching those beneath them. As the evening settles in you will arrive in Udine at the delectable restaurant of Agli Amici, where a traditional eight-course dinner awaits you.
Day 8 - 9
Dobrovo - Plush Wines and Delectable Tastings
Rise and shine with the morning light spotlighting the exceptional landscapes that never lessen in majesty. Today you will venture to the premier wine-growing region of Goriška Brda, where you will find yourself at Hotel Gredič, a recently renovated medieval castle. The historic building is flush with modern luxuries, all situated within view of the energetic vineyard. Upon touring the castle you will come to the focal point of the cellar, filled with regional micro-wines inaccessible to areas outside of Slovenia and nearby regions. Part wine cellar, part lounge, a comfortable environment is a perfect setting to taste the diverse and sensitive flavors from around the valley. A light lunch will have you delighting in the fare conjured by their Italian chef Avenanti Cristian, who has created inspired dishes such as “drunk and grilled” octopus, and goat cheese stuffed hand-made tortellini.
In the late afternoon, you will cross the Italian border to experience the desirable flavors of the Zoff Family Dairy Farm. Multiple award-winners for their cheeses and yogurt, you will indulge in samples that give you just a peek into their unique and decadent fare. Indulge in a few samples and take a peek into their fantastic milk-making techniques. A glass of wine is always paired well with the luscious cheeses before you settle for dinner at Al Giardino in the town of Cormons. A five-course meal is the only way to wind down a gastronomically fabulous day, where no food-adventure could compare.
Day 10 - 11
Ljubljana - Medieval Castle and Modern Wines
You will find charm and elegance in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. The streets combine a medieval city with a village allure, a place that will mesmerize you just by existing. You have seen villages and valleys, Alps and rivers, yet this capital is unlike any other, utterly delightful. The city combines Habsburg architectural majesty with boutique stores and artisan crafts, all somewhat hidden beneath the 15th-century castle perched above the winding, narrow streets. Stand atop the viewing tower to see the wondrous vista that reaches the horizon, filled with plush trees and red rooftops. There is even a fantastic display of what the castle once was, transitioning to how the castle is perceived now on a virtual walkthrough of its history. Let yourself delight in the pleasurable tranquility of the city around the Ljubljanica River, where café culture resides next to the graceful architecture and serene water. In the evening you will find yourself in the Vipava Valley, known for its stellar wines and culminating in a dinner you will never forget. Soon you will dine on the exceptional creations prepared by the chefs of Pri Lojzetu at the Zemono estate. A 7-course meal accompanied by distinct and exquisite local wines will captivate you, bringing your final evening in Slovenia to a gorgeous end.
Trieste - Adriatic Finale
Once more the sunlight rises over Slovenia, only today you find an unfamiliar finality to the sunrise, the last time you will watch the light glisten off of this particular greenery; the last time the scent of vineyards and cherry trees will drift in this particular breeze. After breakfast, you will venture back to Trieste, Italy where and board your flight bound for home. You have tasted your way along the Adriatic, where the exceptional flavors have blossomed with time and culture. Just because you have begun your journey home doesn’t mean that the tastes of the region have to end. There will always be more wines to sample, more cheese to eat, more incredible coursed meals to find, and when you find yourself missing the landscape, the food, and the people that much, you will always be welcomed back.
Consider extending this 11-day trip. Browse the Croatia reviews for additional ideas and to read traveler reviews.
- Experience Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy within the most luxurious restaurants and accommodation
- Traverse stunning medieval towns situated in the countryside and at the foothills of the Alps
- Delight in some of the regions’ most delectable and coveted wines
- Scour the forest in search of the sensational black truffle
- Enjoy a cheese and yogurt tasting at the artesian Zoff Family Dairy Farm
- Witness the stellar expanse of the Škocjan caves
- Discover local vintners unheard of and un-tasted outside of the Goriška Brda wine-region
The exceptional flavors of the Adriatic are yours to indulge in on this 11-day journey through diverse culture, all by sampling the local cuisine. Venture through the Western Adriatic and along the Julian Alps where you will discover the incredible gastronomical traditions that have somehow been hidden from the world until now. The landscapes are captivating and the cuisine is spellbinding. Visit Croatia, Slovenia, and northeastern Italy to find the flavors that have been missing, all wrapped up on this gourmet journey through family-run haciendas waiting for you.
Your gastronomic enlightenment begins with your arrival in Oprtalj, a hillside village that overlooks the Adriatic Sea and the rolling hills of the horizon. In the evening you will be welcomed to the region with a delectable dinner at Brtonigla. The following morning you will have a delightful breakfast at Villa Angelica before venturing off on a truffle hunt that will take you into the glorious hillside. In the afternoon you arrive in Rovinj, the Istrian Venice, where you will see the buildings rise slightly above the sapphire water, before dining at the magnificent Monte Restaurant. The following morning you will venture out to Grožnjan for a day amongst the Istrian vintners. The flavors range from robust to delicate, familiar to exotic; afterwards you will dine at Damir and Ornella in Novigrad.
Make your way to the foothills of the Slovenian Alps and find the tremendous Škocjan caves en route. The powerful and inspiring UNESCO World Heritage site shows you the power and mystique of nature. In the evening you will come to the town of Kobarid, where you will have an exquisite meal at the stunning Hiša Franko with a view of the open plain and rising Alps. Visit the Kobarid Museum, which houses informative exhibitions on World War I and its effect on the surrounding region. In the afternoon you will visit Cividale di Fruili, a town over the Italian border with roots dating back to 53 BC.
The excitement abounds as you venture to Agli Amici for dinner where an eight-course traditional meal and delicious wine accompaniment awaits you. In the wine-region of Goriška Brda, you will stay at a renovated castle where a tasting in the wine cellar offers you flavors of the countryside that have rarely, if ever, left the region. You taste cheeses and yogurt at the Zoff Family Dairy Farm and can sample a five-course meal at Al Giardino in Cormons. Your final gourmet day finds you in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia filled with elegance and class. Traverse Old Town where magic comes to life. Your grand finale dinner has you sitting in Pri Lojzetu where an unforgettable seven-course meal paired with local exquisite wines brings you home.
$2,695 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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