The Aphrodisiac cycling track is a route with an interesting name, but the name definitely isn’t the only interesting thing about it. The route starts in the town named Istarske Toplice (eng. Istrian Spa) and it is one of the more difficult routes in Istria. Cyclists taking the route will cover a little over 34 kilometers, 27 of which are on the macadam surface and the rest being on asphalt. Throughout the route, the cyclists will come across many villages and sites, starting with Istarske Toplice, over Znjidarici, Lagisani, Sveta Lucija, Sveta Jelena, Balini, Pirelici, Livade and then right back where they started from in Istarske Toplice.
As already mentioned, the Aphrodisiac cycling track are rather difficult and are aimed to more experienced cyclists, thanks to its rough terrain and two steep climbs. The highest point of the route is located 416 meters above sea level, and its lowest at 12 meters above sea level. The cyclists will need to cover well over 800 meters in elevation throughout the route, and the estimated time of completion for experienced cyclists is around three and a half hours.
Right from the start in Istarske Toplice – the old quarry – the cyclists will be given a tough task as they will need to ascend 400 meters in under four kilometers. It is a tough task for recreational cyclists, but well worth undertaking as cyclists will be rewarded with beautiful scenery and various delights along the way. After the initial climb, the route steadies a bit before a descent into Gradinje. Shortly after the descent is finished, the cyclist will need to climb again and gain close to 350 meters in elevation in about five kilometers in order to reach Sveta Jelena. Right after the ascent is completed the cyclist will start descending toward Livade, a place world famous for its truffles. From Livade the cyclists turn towards the city of Motovun and after crossing the bridge on the river Mirna, they continue following the river to return to the starting point of Istarske Toplice.
As mentioned before, this route is filled with beautiful scenery, but the focus of it is aimed towards foodies. The area around the city of Motovun, its forest and Livade are world famous for their truffles, which are known to be considered aphrodisiacs, hence the name of the route. If you are a lover of good food, be sure to taste some of the truffle delights in one of the stops along the way, and don’t miss to combine these delights with a beautiful selection of fine wines you will be offered.
The sight that is not to be missed is definitely the view of the river Mirna, which you can clearly see and admire its beauty as you are navigating the hills around Oprtalj and Motovun. Also, don’t miss the Gorostas cliff which magnificently rises above Istarske Toplice as some kind of a guardian. The cliff is the host of the church of Saint Stephen, a small picturesque building that adds charm to the area. In addition to being the home of the church, Gorostas is famous for its spring of water, which some claim to have healing properties.
So if you are in for an adventure, and want a more challenging route across Istria, be sure to give a chance to the Aphrodisiac cycling track and all it has to offer, as it is highly unlikely you will come back disappointed.
You might also find the following links useful:
Aphrodisiac cycling track – route map