I think it was Napoleon who once noted that an army travels on its stomach. (Actually, he probably said, “Une armee marche a son estomac”, which sounds more worldly but translates to roughly the same thing.)

As a veteran of several dozen scouting trips around the world, I’d like to propose that travelers, too, owe their progress-as well as their productivity-to the restorative powers of food.

A case in point. One glorious summer day in 2007 found our small but merry band hiking the rolling hills of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula. From the topography to the vegetation to the stunning vistas, the whole setting reminded us of Tuscany, right down to the golden sun glinting off the distant hilltowns.

As we approached our midday objective, the lovely village of Grisignana, hunger set in full force. It was there, at a tiny restaurant on a tiny village square, that we achieved near nirvana over lunch. The pasta, from pappardelle to gnocchi, was bathed in truffles. Not just a few shavings here and there, but a mound for each of us to savor. As we soon came to realize, truffles are a staple of Istrian cuisine. Black and white, on every plate at every meal. It’s no wonder we felt slightly sinful just sitting down at the table.

That’s life on a walking tour of Croatia, particularly on this arrowhead-shaped peninsula that lies just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. Simply put, Istria seduces you with a blend of Italian and Slavic culture, dating from the days when its dramatic seacoast was dominated by Venice. That provocative pairing still resonates today, permeating everything from flavors to folk customs.

If there’s any region that can boast of “so many roads, so little time”, it’s Istria. With scenic routes known as the Truffle Roads, Olive Oil Roads and Wine Roads criss-crossing the unspoiled countryside, it’s an embarrassment of riches…much like the Tuscany of 20 years ago.

Just recalling that beauty-and those truffles!-takes me back to the tablesides of Istria. If you’ve had a meal or even a taste of something sensational during your travels, drop me a line at blog@classicjourneys.com. And if you’d like more information about our Cultural Walking Adventure to Istria, please click here.