Motovun (Montona d'Istria) is a village in central Istria, Croatia. The population of the village itself is 531, with a total of 983 residents in the municipality (2001); 442 of the residents have Italian as their mother language.

It is situated on a hill 270 meters above sea level. On top of a Motovun hill is probably the most beautiful medieval town in Istria, with houses scattered all over the hill. It is a typical example of Venetian colonial architecture. The city gate dates from the 15th century. On the inner walls are several coats-of-arms of different Motovun ruling families and two gravestones of Roman inhabitants (dating from the 1st century). The city wall dates from the 12-13th century.

The late-Renaissance church of St. Stephen was designed by the architect Andrea Palladio. The church contains several works of art: the marble statues of St. Stephen and St. Laurence by Francesco Bonazzo and the 17th-century painting of the Last Supper over the altar by an unknown Venetian artist. The water cisterns in the square in front of the church date from the 14th and 15th centuries.

The municipal palace is the largest secular building in Istria from the Renaissance period.

On the slopes of the hill, grapes for famous Istrian wines are grown: the Teran and the Malvasia wine. The river Mirna flows below the hill and on the other side of the river there is the famous Motovun forest, rich with prized black and white truffles. These became popular through the Vladimir Nazor's well known novel Veli Jože, about a well-tempered peasant giant who "lived" there.

Since 1999, Motovun has hosted the international Motovun Film Festival for independent and avant-garde films from the U.S. and Europe.

The biggest current local issue is the battle between foreign developers, who have proposed a 36-hole golf course and a 500+-bed resort in the valley below the town, and the local community, who are opposed to the proposals on aesthetic and environment grounds.

A plan of Motovun is displayed on the reverse of the 10 kuna banknote.

Notable residents

  • Motovun was the birthplace of legendary race car driver Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo in 1940. The city was called Montona d'Istria, Italy at the time. The brothers raced hand-crafted wooden cars through the steep streets. After World War II Istria (which is now again part of Croatia) was turned back as part of Croatia, Yugoslavia. His family, like many other Italian Istrians, fled in 1948. They lived in a refugee camp near Pescara from 1948 to 1955. The Andretti family resettled in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, United States.
  • Motovun was also the birthplace of prominent Renaissance music printer Andrea Antico.

External links

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