462Smuggling routes

Riding along this route will take you through the 1930s, when smuggling or 'contraband' took place on the mountain roads of Učka Nature Park. The duty-free zone in the Kvarner province, or zona franca, declared by the Italian government, gave the local population a chance to find a way to survive in difficult times of poverty. This arduous and dangerous task of exchanging agricultural products was carried out by the inhabitants of Šušnjevica and the surrounding settlements with the inhabitants of Mošćenice, Brseč and Lovran. In turn, they left us a legacy of interesting stories about smuggling and survival.

The route takes you from Vozilići along the eastern border of Čepić Field in the direction of Nova Vas. Before taking the contraband roads, visit the interpretation centre Ecomuseum Vlaški Puti (Vlach Paths), which introduces you to the rich history and traditional culture of Šušnjevica, and the highly-endangered Vlach language. Although the area of Šušnjevica was already inhabited in Roman times, the main contribution to this place was given by the Istro-Romanians who inhabited this area during the 15th and 16th century.

The most demanding part of the tour starts in Nova Vas, and that is the ascent to the western slopes of Učka. In the next 13 km you need to overcome about 1000 m of ascent to the Bodaj site, but the reward for your effort will be the priceless views of Čepić Field and eastern Istria. If you are using an electric bike, the ride will be a complete pleasure. Temperatures drop with altitude, so the atmosphere at the top will be refreshing, but remember that there is no possibility of replenishing water supplies along the way, so get yourself enough fluid in time. The trail is exposed to sunlight, so we advise you to avoid it during hot summer days.

Riding along the western slopes of Učka will take you to lookout points with unique views of central and eastern Istria, while you breathe the air enriched by the scent of sage and other wild plants. In the small village of Podmaj, visit the remains of former pastoral dwellings built using the dry-stone walls technique.

Finally, there is a long and in some places steeper descent towards the eastern coast of the Istrian peninsula. After arriving at the main highway near Zagora, you return via Plomin and Plomin Luka to your final destination in Vozilići.


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Note: Map and trails on the website are informative and are to be used at one's own risk.