Gračišće, 7km southeast of Pazin, is a sleepy medieval town surrounded by rolling hills, and is one of Istria’s well-kept secrets. Its collection of ancient buildings includes the 15th-century Venetian-Gothic Salamon Palace, the Romanesque Church of St Euphemia, and the Church of St Mary from 1425.
Most of these buildings are unrestored (although some work is being done). You won’t need more than 30 minutes to circle the tiny town, but the ambience is truly lovely. There’s an 11.5km circular hiking trail that leads from here, which is well marked with signs.
Istrian specialties are served at Konoba Marino, a cosy tavern that dishes out copious portions of fuži (homemade egg pasta twisted into a unique shape) with game and ombolo (boneless pork loin) with cabbage. The same owners run a restored town house steps away with four charming rustic rooms (150KN per person, with breakfast).