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The trekking season

When is the trekking season? Obviously, it will arrive when you have a desire to go off and wander about, and perhaps the most important thing is not the period but the actual track or route that you follow. With its mild climate the Istrian peninsula offers hikers some very special routes. Visitors can choose to walk through pristine, unspoilt country areas, where it is possible to go hiking at any time during the year and where there are reminders of local traditions, and various sites that are interesting from the historical point of view. The paths and routes close to Bale (Valle d'Istria, in Italian) can be reached from various neighbouring municipalities.

      The route indicators are clearly visible and effective, and, after parking your vehicle, you simply follow the signs which indicate the paths you have chosen. For example, arriving from Vodnjan  (Dignano, in Italian) the road leads up to the hills, where, after covering a distance of about 1.5 km, you will reach an old church dedicated to Saint Catherine. Visitors may find that this ancient place of worship dating back to the 14th century is quite fascinating, also on account of certain mysterious stimuli contained within its walls which linguists in particular may certainly find worthy of note.

There is also another route that will take you up a different hill. The climb is quite easy, and the path you will follow is very pleasant. You will pass by a few old dry stone walls (forming part of a UNESCO world-heritage site) and there are wild asparagus stems sprouting from beneath the bushes. Along the way there is a small pond that resembles a swimming pool, with steps placed at the point of entry. In the summer one might be tempted to swim in the water but it is actually a tiny reservoir of spring water which the local people simply call the 'fontana'. You might want to do some stretching there in front of the pond before you start off again and follow the route up to the top of the hill, where you will find the remains of another church. Dedicated to Saint Michael, it was built on the ruins of an ancient monastery in 1855 at the behest of a certain Mons. Medellin. The original monastery was probably built between the 7th and 8th centuries, and was referred to by Pope Alexander III, who visited Istria in the year 1177 and noted the presence of the monastery. According to a particular legend the ecclesiastical patron of Bale, Blessed Julian, lived at this monastery from 1328 onwards and died there in 1367. Perhaps without realising it, those who visit such places will no longer be simple hikers; they may consider themselves as time-travellers!

 And what if a sea breeze starts to blow across the hill? You may be covered in sweat and feeling a bit hot, and you may consider leaving the site. Would it be a good idea to go back, retracing your steps? Well, no, we don't really think you should do that.

All you need to do is walk down the other side of the hill to explore another area, and you will gradually reach the seashore.

This is not really trekking; it's a sort of quest to find local treasures ...


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