A Cinematic Villeggiatura

author Idis Turato
project Roxanich Hotel and Winery, Motovun, Croatia
written by Miloš Kosec

In Istria, archaic does not necessarily mean old. Cultural landscape of the interior of the peninsula exhibits a rare continuity of habitation and cultivation of land. In some cases, this continuity can indeed be measured in thousands of years, and cultivation of wine and olive trees is just an example of that. But even if donkeys and carts have been replaced by trains and cars, the tracks and roads have largely remained the same. Continuity is pragmatic: Istrian topography is just as unforgiving and adaptation is a matter of survival. Inhabitants of Istria intuitively understand the following sentence from the novel The Leopard: If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change. Its author, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, was writing about the 19th century Sicily, though it might as well be contemporary Istria. Even among the many atemporal impressions which the traveller gets by visiting coastal towns and resorts, the ancient town of Motovun is an especially forceful case. When the curved road south straightens directly towards a steep hill with a town at the top, the traveller for a moment feels like an invader. The houses seem like sheep seeking refuge among the ancient pastoral authority of church steeples and aristocratic palaces, protected from the progress in the valley below by steep slopes. And yet, the ancient authorities are mostly vacant now; the flock is predominantly tended by the very contemporary authority of tourism and culture, especially the famous Motovun Film Festival. The latest scene in the Istrian sequence of adaptability, however, is not provided by the Motovun Film Festival, but by the new Roxanich Hotel and winery next door.