Giants and argonauts!
Central Istria has many medieval hilltop towns and villages, dotted around lush green landscape amid forests, vineyards, and farms. These villages grew on the sites of ancient Celtic and Illyrian fortresses, taking advantage of natural defensibility with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Legend says that many of these hilltop villages, including Motovun, were built by giants, because how could ordinary men possibly carry the huge stones we find on top of these hills?
According to legend, the Mirna River valley was inhabited by giants who cared for the land, and the river itself was a furrow dug by a giant named Dragonja, who named it after his wife, Mirna. This is the river sailed by the mythical Jason and the Argonauts, and runs past the foot of Motovun. Legends persist that the son of Dragonja still lives in the Istrian forests. Croatian politician and author Vladimir Nazor wrote a story in 1908 named Veli Jože, about a hard-working, gentle giant living near Motovun; the story is an allegory representing the struggle of Croats for autonomy during the time of Venetian rule.