The Lightness of Being Istria

Each year they came to the house in Istria and together they walked the hills and harbours. Friends would join them, from Venice and Vienna, London and Zagreb, each laden with the cares of the working year. On arrival, each would breathe in the Istrian air and stand taller, almost light-headed. Over their first meal outdoors, surrounded by vines, they would compare notes and make plans: where the painters would paint and the cooks forage; which olive oil had the nose this year; how to celebrate the lightness of being Istria.

This year seemed special. Even their favoured wines had moved up in the world. With the crab and wild asparagus, Laguna Malvasia was still fruity but somehow finer. With their char-grilled lamb, Laguna Merlot was balanced as ever but longer. The wines even looked fresher. And now mine host would reveal why, on a journey of discovery.

Not to the new winery. Not down the wine road they cycled last year. Today they would truly discover the lightness of being Istria. Above Vrsar, they came upon a new trail and in a clearing, high and handsome and ready to fly, the new Vina Laguna hot air balloon. Over the mosaic of Istria they sailed, Brijuni islands here, olive groves there, ports and vineyards cheek by jowl, until they reached the famous white soil of Visinada above the Myrna Valley.

Before returning home, they bought truffles. For tonight they would celebrate and over their Istrian banquet they would raise a glass of the finest Festigia…to the lightness of being Istria.