Your vacation is soon coming to an end and you’re considering buying souvenirs from Istria, but there are so many options! What do you choose? Don’t just spend your money on fridge magnets or keychains because you have no idea what to buy for yourself or for your loved ones back home. Istria is steeped in agricultural history that has bore fruit in some award-winning products.
The region prides itself on globally renowned wines and olive oil, but trust us, there’s more to Istria than those two specialties. Should you purchase Istrian wine or olive oil anyway? Absolutely! Check out our list of some true Istrian souvenirs that will leave an impression. Bear in mind that the ones that made it on our list are things that will end up either on your body or inside it, and the reason is pretty simple.
Have you ever experienced a flashback of a moment in your life when you get a whiff of certain smells in the air or when you taste particular ingredients in your dish? We want to transport you to that moment where you can remember Istria, not by the magnets hanging on your refrigerator, but by the joyful experience of the flavors and scent of the Istrian peninsula.
Truffles is a luxurious commodity that is well-known about Istria and the Zigante Tartufi brand does it best when it comes to packaged truffle sauces. This highly-prized fungi grows nearly the entire year on the peninsula with the white truffle being the most sought-after. While the white truffle can be sold at about 3000 Euros per kilo, we promise that you won’t have to spend the equivalent to that amount thanks to Zigante Tartufi. Istrians’ notoriety for its truffles started around the last century and the Motovun Forest is most famous for having the best truffles.
At any Istrian taverns (‘konoba’), you will almost always find some dishes served with truffles – mostly in plates of pasta and pizzas. It is hard to miss the presence of this Istrian souvenir in none other than Motovun-based restaurants. Now if you’ve had a mouthwatering plate of food with truffles during your vacation here, why not bring some of it with you? Zigante Tartufi products are available are the company’s own stores and at grocery markets of Plodine and Kaufland. You have plenty of options to choose from ranging from truffle savory sauce, truffle jams, truffle-infused chips, and truffle-infused oil. We’ve tried all of them and they’re all delicious so go on… Impress your friends & family back home with some Istrian-inspired truffle dishes during your next dinner.
When it comes to historic souvenirs from Istria, olive oil makes it to the top of that list. Ties with ancient Romans gave the peninsula olive trees and hardworking locals have turned it into this golden oil of perfection. Istrians love olive oil and there’s no denying it, and there’s certainly no questioning it either. In fact, it took the #1 spot for the best extra virgin olive oil region in the world for a sixth consecutive year in 2020, according to Flos Olei.
In Pula, you can visit the Museum of Olive Oil to learn about the history of this centuries-old practice and also purchase olive oil from leading Croatian companies. The locals’ experience in olive oil making can also be seen when you visit the underground museum at the Pula Arena where restored mills and clay pots used in its production are put on display.
Here in the Mediterranean, wine accompanies the cuisine and is always present at any party, but the peninsula elevates this favorite beverage. There’s a historic connection with Istrian wines where the region’s Muscat wines were served on royal tables in the Middle Ages and the ancient Romans lauded the region for the byproduct of its grapevines. Among the many types of wine from the area include the Istrian Malvasia, Muscat Rose, and Teran and if you’ve had an opportunity to try any of our wines and enjoyed it, it’s so easy to bring it with you back home!
Pršut is otherwise known as Istrian prosciutto and it is an indigenous delicacy from the peninsula. Often served on cheese boards or appetizer platters, the locals have built up a reputable tradition of preparing and curing their prosciutto. Their popularity is so great that pršut is an oft-requested delicacy at events and gatherings. Istrian prosciutto is one of a handful of authentic souvenirs from Istria and there’s proof! The region and its pršut are registered for its authenticity in the European Union in 2015 and nationally. Imagine just how delicious your lunch would be with this peninsula’s specialty.
Skip the excessively processed blocks of dairy goodness at the supermarket and purchase a variety of Istrian cheese as souvenirs from Istria to bring home. What you often see in the peninsula is how cheese-making is a family affair that has been handed down from one generation to the next. Believe us when we say that there is an enormous difference in the flavor of Istrian cheese versus supermarket cheese because you really taste the ingredients and know that it truly was made fresh and with love. There are some Istrian brands that specialize in this cheesy delicacy but our favorites are Vesna Loborika and Stancija Kumparička.
Spending money on souvenirs from Istria doesn’t have to be expensive and the local honey proves just that. The locals have long practiced beekeeping though it is mostly concentrated in northern and central Istria. Well-maintained fields, pastures, and forests of these areas create an ideal beekeeping ground to harvest delectable honey that is pure and tasty. Plus, it goes great with pancakes, toast, or on cakes too! You’ll find plenty of Istrian honey at the Pula market where you can also try some or you can also purchase it at Plodine, Kaufland, or Konzum though we advise sticking to the ones sold at the Pula market to ensure its local authenticity.
It would be unjust for us to not include essential oils on our list because, honestly, have you seen how many herb plants and lavender grow across the Istrian coast? It’s a lot and you needn’t even visit Provence, France! Though wild lavender nabs the top spot when it comes to plants used in essential oils and cosmetic products, the peninsula also has wild rosemary shrubs that are used in beauty and wellness products too. Our recommendation is Histria Aromatica’s Aromatica brand that is found at Muller stores where you can also opt for massage oils using various herbs and plants found here.