|Minimum Stay||5 - 14 nights|
Istria is called the Tuscany of the Adriatic by some while others find it reminiscent of the Perigord thirty years ago. Lombardy poplars line the approaches to ancient hilltop towns, while ancient stonework and cobbled streets evoke another, less frantic age.
Palazzo Portole, a castle built on Roman foundations, is in one of these lovely towns.
The Palazzo was originally part of the town fortifications and was remodeled as a luxury residence in the 1700s. It’s set in a private high- walled garden with a large pool and shaded outdoor dining area with brick barbecue and Moorish lighting.
On the main floor are large bright airy rooms - a sitting room, kitchen and library. Five bedrooms and four bathroom comfortably accommodating ten people are spread through the villa.
Open the front door of the Palazzo and you enter the Sitting Room with its exposed wooden beams and imposing fireplace at the far end, paintings on the walls, beautiful rugs on the pale limestone floor and plenty of deep comfortable furniture.
The spacious Kitchen which is floored in a herringbone pattern with reclaimed brick, has a large fireplace and a wooden beamed ceiling in keeping with the rest of the property. With its hand-crafted cabinets, long dining table easily seating 10 and many Istrian and English touches, the Kitchen is fully equipped for all your entertaining needs.
In the well-stocked Library beyond the Kitchen you can sink into a comfy sofa with a good book.
The four bedrooms upstairs - two double and two twins (or three twins and one double if you prefer) - have en-suite bathrooms. The downstairs Tower bedroom has access to a shower room.
Each of the bedrooms has its own distinctive character with a four-poster bed in the Master bedroom and antique furniture, pictures and carpets in every room.
The private gardens are laid out formally with a profusion of roses and typical Mediterranean plants - lavender, rosemary, sage, oleander and agapanthus - providing fragrance and colour all summer. A high hedge separating the pool from the rest of the front flower garden gives privacy for sun-bathers and swimmers.
Against the East wall of the front garden is the Loggia. With its open sides and tiled roof it is ideal for outdoor meals and barbecuing. The long antique tiled table and the shade provided by the pitched roof makes the Loggia the perfect alfresco dining room.
The garden on the north side of the property offers shade under the arcade of roses with views to Slovenia and the Alps. Beyond is the vegetable and fruit garden where you can pick your own fresh produce.
Outside the Palazzo's walls Oprtalj typifies the Istrian hilltop town idyll with its pretty winding cobbled streets, medieval houses, stone arches and church and campanile on the large square at the town’s highest point.
Surrounded by stunning scenery Oprtalj is off the beaten track and is not over-run with tourists. You'll feel you've stepped back in time in this completely unspoiled haven with narrow cobbled lanes and vaulted arches which make cars a rarity inside the old town walls.
On the main square there’s a small shop which stocks all the basics and next door is the taverna (konoba) and bar which serves local organic food at reasonable prices. There are small shops inside the town walls which sell local wine, honey and olive oil, antiques, handmade artifacts and the best postcards in Istria. The smaller towns nearby have good supermarkets, shops and restaurants. A little further afield, on the coast, you can find outdoor markets full of fresh produce, including fish caught and landed in the immediate area, locally reared meat, herbs, salads, vegetables, honey and cheese.
The owner of the Palazzo visits regularly during the year and maintains the large garden which surrounds the castle in a style which combines English design and planting - particularly roses - with aromatic Mediterranean plants such as lavender, thyme and rosemary. The roses often bloom right up to the end of November. The castle is full of art and quirky objects which reflect the interests of the owner & give the place a unique atmosphere and family feel.
The Owner purchased this castle in 2001
The hilltop towns and spectacular coastline of Istria first attracted the owners. The wealth of historic sites from the Roman amphitheatre in Pula to the Venetian towns such as Rovinj strengthened the love affair. The unspoiled countryside, the rich mixture of flora and fauna, the forests with their annual harvest of white truffles made the final decision to chose Oprtalj easy. This is in the perfect location for holidays - 20 minutes drive to the coast but on a hilltop with stunning views and slightly cooler breezes in the height of summer. It is easy to reach, with Trieste (Italy) and Pula (Istria) airports just over an hour away. After a busy day on the coast returning to the peace of Oprtalj and the Palazzo feels like entering another world.
The fabulous position of the Palazzo - a Castle with its own Tower, makes it quite unique. It is unlike any other property in the region forming part of the ancient town walls of Oprtalj. The historic importance of the Palazzo, the combination of the beautiful gardens, the privacy, the Loggia's shaded outdoor dining area and barbecue set it apart from other villas. The north garden offers shade and seclusion while the south side and pool are sun-drenched all day. The Castle's Tower, accessible up a spiral staircase inside the building, is an incomparable feature of the property. From the top there's a 360 degree view, a secluded sunbathing spot and a perfect stargazing platform. The decorative iron furniture on the terrace offers comfortable seating for those who want to sit and watch the sun go down. The amazing setting of the Castle is unparalleled. Oprtalj’s narrow cobbled streets are car-free and great for children to explore in safety. English and Italian are widely spoken in Istria.
Special interest holidays:
In July every year the local hill-top town of Motovun (10 km away) hosts a five day film festival with screenings running from 10am until 4am, with evening outdoor screenings & daily shows in theatres. There are also associated music events every evening. The town of Groznjan (15 km away) hosts a summer music school including a folk & jazz festival with evening performances throughout July and August. In the autumn and winter hunting trips can be arranged, with wild boar the largest and most plentiful game. Truffle hunting outings can be organised from October till December and cookery classes using local produce can be included. The area has many musicians, artists, photographers & sculptors who are happy to share their skills by running short courses for visitors. Horse riding on unpaved 'white' roads and forest tracks is available with horse ranches within 10 km.
The castle is perfectly positioned for easy access to the Istrian coast with its crystal-clear, clean pebble stone beaches nestling in coves 30km away. Swimming, diving & wind-surfing are all available. From Porec there are frequent boat excursions along the spectacular coastline to the National Park island of Brijuni, the Venetian town of Rovinj & the Limksi Kanal fjord. You can even catch the daily return hydrofoil ferry to Venice. Pula, in the south, has a Roman amphitheatre & forum
We recommend flying to one of these airports and then hiring a car: Pula Airport (Croatia) is 76km (42m) from Oprtalj. Ryanair flights from Stansted twice/three times weekly during the season. Trieste (Italy) is 90km (55m) - Ryanair flights most days from Stansted (from £9.99 each way). Ljubljana (Slovenia) is 123km (76m) - Easyjet flights most days from £35. During the summer Thomson flies from Gatwick to Pula & jet2 from Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle & Leeds. Please check their websites.
Livade,6 km-restaurants, bar, shop, specialist truffle shop. Motovun,10 km-film festival, sightseeing, restaurants, bank, petrol station. Groznjan,15 km-music festival, sightseeing, restaurants, craft shops. Buje,17 km-supermarkets, banks, pharmacy, petrol station. Buzet,19 km-restaurants, sightseeing, pharmacy, supermarkets, banks, petrol stations. Porec,40 km-world heritage cathedral site, fish and vegetable market, restaurants, sightseeing, supermarkets, banks, petrol stations, pharmacies.
Oprtalj has a small shop selling most basic necessities and a konoba (taverna) serving dishes made from organic local produce. Supermarkets can be found in Buzet & Buje. Umag and Porec also have fantastic daily outdoor markets with fresh meat, vegetables and fish. Konobas can be found in most villages in the district. Family-run 'agroturismos' - farm restaurants - offer the freshest of seasonal produce cooked in typical Istrain dishes. Oprtalj sits in white truffle country and the season from October until December attracts visiting gourmets from all over the world. Airport transfers, babysitters and cooks can be arranged at an extra charge. The whole of the Istrian peninsula is steeped in history from the Iron Age through Roman times, the Venetian and Austro-Hungarian empires to the present. Pula boasts a Forum and one of the most complete and largest surviving Roman Colosseums in the world. The town of Rovinj dominated by the impressive Basilica was one of the most important coastal towns whilst under the control of the Venetian Republic and still bears the hallmarks of that reign. A climb to the top of the basilica is well worth the effort giving a spectacular view of the coast and nearby islands. Closer to home Livade, at the bottom of the hill from Oprtalj in the Mirna Valley hosts an annual truffle festival every October. This small town holds the Guinness world record for the largest white truffle ever discovered. The towns' main restaurant 'Zigante' is a gastronome's paradise for truffle lovers. Also in the Mirna Valley is part of the route of the Parenzana narrow-gauge railway, originally from Trieste to Porec. Although dismantled after it ceased operations in 1935, the route is still intact and the walk through tunnels and over viaducts is stunning. Whether you are interested in archaeology, ornithology or modern day shopping, the locale has it all. A folder in the house & www.palazzoportole.com have additional information, recommendations and directions.
|Fees||No additional mandatory fees|
|Refundable damage deposit||$267|
A 20% non-refundable deposit is payable on confirmation of your booking. Balance payable 8 weeks before commencement of your stay. A €250 refundable security deposit will apply, payable with final balance, which will be refunded after departure if no damage or breakages are found. We would advise you to arrange your own cancellation and travel insurance.
Changeover days are usually Saturday but can be flexible in some situations. Guests should check in after 3.00pm and check out by 10.00am. If a different change-over day or alternative times for arrival/departure are required please ask the owner.
On booking, guests are requested to pay 20% of the full cost to confirm and secure the reservation. The balance must then be paid no later than eight weeks before arrival.