Cosy and homely, yet refined and rather special, the house has a boho-chic vibe, which we loved. It's set in big private gardens, planted with palms, lemon trees, oleander, azalea and fragrant lavender bushes (all beautifully lit at night), and there's a turquoise pool off to one side, plus an organic vegetable garden where you can pick your own produce. Other facilities include bicycles, a small playground, outdoor gym equipment and a sports pitch with flood-lighting. Behind the villa, overgrown woodland is slowly being cleared and replanted with olive groves - the region is noted for its excellent olive oil and fine wines, as well as seasonal delicacies such as white truffles and wild asparagus, all of which you must try while you stay.
- Perfect for 1-3 families: grounds include a pool, playground and sports pitch for football, badminton and volleyball, and 3 of the 6 bedrooms can be twinned
- Stunning views over the valley
- A peaceful, inland location, away from the summer crowds on the Adriatic coast yet only 20km from Novigrad (dubbed Croatia's 'Portofino') for afternoons on the beach
- The excellent spa facility is an indulgent touch for a private villa
- A big kitchen with indoor/outdoor dining areas and a BBQ. Or ask for meal delivery, book a chef or drive to great restaurants
- You'll need a car to get here, and to reach grocery shops (2km to the nearest village; 6km to a town)
- A 7-night minimum stay all year
- The pool is solar heated, and only open June-September
- Shower bathrooms are small and rather basic; only the master bedroom has a bathtub
- Those allergic to cats should note there are a few felines who wander around the grounds
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Villa
- 6 bedrooms
- Self catering; chef/meals on request; restaurants nearby
- All ages welcome
- Closed: Closed October-May
- Heated Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car essential
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Bicycles Available
- Laundry Service
- Weekly maid service
The villa has 6 bedrooms; 3 are doubles, 3 are twin/doubles. With a sloping wooden ceiling under the eaves, the master bedroom is spacious but cosy and romantic, with a big antique bed, wooden floor, 4 windows with old-fashioned wooden shutters, and a generous ensuite bathroom with a tub. A smaller adjoining double room (shared bathroom) opens onto a big covered terrace, with a hammock, table, and fantastic views over the surrounding hills. These two rooms are recommended for close family or good friends. Fresh country air and total silence guarantee a good night's sleep.
The other guest rooms each have their own entrance from the garden or front courtyard and are traditional in feel. We liked their wooden beamed ceilings, exposed stonework, terracotta tile floors, kilim rugs and the eclectic mix of antique and modern furniture - wooden beds, mismatched armchairs and gilt-framed religious paintings. Ensuite bathrooms are small and quite basic with showers but no tubs.
- Washing machine
There's a lovely kitchen area with a wooden beamed ceiling, a marble sink and a big stone fireplace. Besides mod-cons such as a cooker, dishwasher and espresso coffee machine, it has a long wooden dining table and a stash of hand-painted ceramic plates and bowls from Sicily. Cleaning supplies, coffee and spices are provided; if you don't want to cook, villa management can arrange a chef on request, traditional Istrian breakfasts of local cheeses and cured meats, or a choice of home-cooked dishes made-to-order. There are several spaces for dining in the garden, plus a BBQ, and you can help yourself to 30 varieties of seasonal vegetables in the permaculture organic garden.
For eating out, the nearest restaurants are in Livade (2km). We'd recommend driving a bit further though. Konoba Oprtalj in Oprtalj (6km) serves delicious truffle and pasta dishes at tables under the trees, with a spectacular view across the surrounding hills. To feast on Adriatic seafood, head to the coast - try Gatto Nero in Novigrad, where the local speciality is scallops (kapešante in Istrian dialect), or up-market Monte in Rovinj, Croatia's first and only Michelin-starred restaurant.
- Chef on request
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Meal delivery service
- Restaurants nearby
- Shopping service
- Enjoy lazy mornings by the pool, active afternoons out and about, then return home for football, badminton and sundowners
- Indulge in the spa and wellness centre, with a hydromassage hot tub, a sauna, a teak lounge, a home cinema system and a bar
- Visit the hill-town of Oprtalj (5km) to explore its cobbled alleys, 16th-Century church, Venetian-era loggia and monthly antique fair. And don't forget nearby medieval Motovun which has an annual international film festival
- Go olive oil tasting in the nearby hamlet of Ipši, where Klaudio Ipša produces award-wining extra virgin olive oil
- Drive to the seaside town of Novigrad (20km) - dubbed Croatia's Portofino - for an afternoon on the beach followed by a sunset cocktail at waterside bar Vitriol
- Pack a picnic and spend a day hiking or cycling through the green hills of inland Istria; the villa has bikes to borrow
- Spend a day in the coastal city of Poreč (35km) and see the golden mosaics in its Unesco-listed 6th-century Basilica
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Table tennis
This is an ideal retreat for families. Children will love exploring the garden, the playground and the surrounding countryside. There's an outdoor pool, a sports court for soccer, badminton and volleyball (with flood lighting). Having your own kitchen means you can prepare meals for kids whenever you want, or you can ask for meals to be delivered/a chef service. There are grocery shops and restaurants in Livade (2km), Motovun and Oprtalj (both 6km).
Family friendly accommodation:
The villa has 6 bedrooms, 3 of which can be set up as twins. An additional 2 rollaway beds/baby cots can be provided free of charge.
Kids Activities on site:
- Swimming pool
- Small playground of swings and slides
- Table tennis
- All-weather sports court (soccer, badminton, cross mint (fast form of badminton), volleyball
- Bicycles to borrow (free of charge)
- Children's DVDs
Families Should Know:
The villa is on a hilltop so toddlers should not be left unsupervised
- Airport: Trieste or Pula (both 2 hours' drive)
- Hospital: Buzet (10 minutes' drive)
- Shops: Livade (3-5 minutes' drive)
Villa Sancta Maria is set on a hillside overlooking the River Mirna valley in inland Istria, Croatia. It's 2km from the village of Livade, 6km from Motovun, and 26km from the coastal town of Novigrad.
If flying into Croatia, most will fly into Pula (which is 2 hours' drive, 77km away); there is also Rijeka (59km) or Ljubljana (160km). Many, however, prefer fly in to Trieste (Italy), which is also a 2-hour journey. Click on the links below for a list of airlines.
From the Airport
Hire a car from the airport to drive to the villa. There's on-site parking.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Croatia
- Pula 77.0 km PUY
- Trieste 55.0 km TRS
- Beach 20.0 km
- Shops 2.0 km
- Restaurant 2.0 km