One must first spend a few days driving through the winding roads of Istria, Croatia taking in the rustic sights of stone farm houses, fig and olive trees all enhanced by a backdrop of the Adriatic Sea and the cool breeze it provides before you can appreciate the diversity Croatia has to offer. Each twist and turn of the roads offers a hidden gem to discover, as if Croatia weren’t a gem in and of itself.
Villa Štefanija is a hidden jewel in a bucolic area of Barban, Croatia. Inspired and dedicated by Duška Pečečnik’s grandmother and created through triumphs and tribulations, Villa Štefanija is the perfect place to happen upon where the warmth of Croatian hospitality is at it’s finest.
Unpretentious elegance, breathtaking views of the Adriatic, culinary pleasures and personalized service await the guests of this five suite contemporary rustic villa. Anyone who wishes to stop by to visit or dine is immediately made to feel at home by Duška and her staff.
An immediate sense of tranquility came upon me as we walked onto the white sand stone terrace one mid morning in August. I saw happy guests finishing their breakfasts’ at tables that surrounded the villa’s infinity pool that stretched out to a panoramic view of the Adriatic Sea and it’s mountain range. The Morska air was warm and sweet. We were greeted by Duška, who had been clearing the breakfast tables and seated in a partially shaded area of the terrace on a plantation style settee and chairs. We had only stopped for coffee and a visit, but, I knew my companions and I were not wanting to leave so soon, even with our busy day ahead. We were exactly where we needed to be and we settled into our seats releasing a therapeutic “awwww”.
Our Café Lattes were served promptly in charming white on white cups and saucers with soft leafing detail. Water was served in contemporary hammered glasses along with a bucket of ice cubes. A plate of fresh figs accompanied them and we were introduced to a liquor brewed locally and without name made from olive trees. Thoughtful details left us euphorically speechless as we sipped our drinks and drank in the surroundings. My senses were aroused and my mind was peaceful.
Duška sat down with us and narrated the story about her inspiration to create Villa Štefanija. Her words were passionate and sincere. She was beaming with pride and humbled to have us visiting her.
Before leaving, Duška showed us around the main floor of the villa. A fine wine collection is displayed in a well-appointed reception room where a beautiful oil painting of her grandmother, Štefanjia is hung.
She walked us to our car and we said our farewells promising to return again.
A few days later with a craving for fruit de mare followed by a late night call to Duška and we were once again sitting on the terrace, this time under a full moon and dining above the clouds. No words or photos can describe it and my dining companions and I will forever talk about it