Path of St. Kocijan (707)

The walking path of St. Kocijan (Cantianus) got its name after the medieval church dedicated to the saint. The church was located at the very top of the homonymous hill, the highest hill visible from Borut in the direction of south-east. We start out at Borut train station, immediately crossing over the rail track and following the green-yellow markings along the factory fence. After passing by the factory on the right, we cross over a little bridge over the Borut creek and follow the path among cultivated fields and a highway until reaching an underpass, which we take to cross to the other side of the highway. After some hundred metres of asphalt road, we turn right onto a forest track. The track soon forks and we take the left hand, uphill route. Climbing up to the top of St. Kocijan is the most difficult section of the path, so our advice is: take your time and occasionally look around to admire the unfolding panorama. There are also many interesting plants that you will come across during your journey, which is why botanical admirers should keep their eyes open. The seductive scent of marjoram (thyme) will be accompanying you from the very beginning of the path.


Today, there is actually very little knowledge left about the church of St. Kocijan. Why would anyone build a church at the top of such a hard-accessible and uninhabited hill? Or perhaps once the whole hill used to be populated? Maybe St. Kocijan was inhabited ever since prehistoric times, when people, in order to obtain an easier defense, chose steep peaks for the construction of their forts? There are around 350 of similar forts in Istria, the nearest being the one at Stari Draguć, situated at the highest hill visible in the direction of north-west. Why do we know so little about it? The answer lies in the very path you are walking on. This part of Istria, also called the ‘’grey Istria’’ is composed of marl and flysch, the materials highly susceptible to weather conditions. As a result, we testify torrents reaching the path and washing away the landscape, creating deep ditches and cracks, constantly changing the surrounding terrain. This is the reason why the remains of historical layers in this part of Istria are so difficult to perceive. Although, because of its flattened hilltop, the area of St.Kancijan has been regarded as a potential prehistoric site for quite a long time, no proof of it has been found up to the present day. It makes an additional reason for you keep your eyes wide open. Who knows, it might be you who’ll find the evidence!


Just before the hilltop itself, the markings will take us off the broader path and onto the steep forest track, where a panoramic view of Hum and Tibole unfolds in the distance. We will also pass by a remarkable oak tree whose branches display knotty nubs remindful of human heads. This plant, which is actually an oak tree parasite, is known in Istria under the name of “bisak” (mistletoe) and its leaves are used for the production of the famous grappa ‘’biska’’. Once we reach the top of the hill, the markings first lead us to a clearing and then take us through a wide forest track along the hilltop straight to the ruins of St. Kocijan’s church. St. Koncijan was a Christian martyr at the time of the Diocletian persecution of Christians. As a matter of fact, there were three brothers: Kancij, Kancijan and Kancijanila, who, together with their teacher Proto who had taught them Christianity, were executed on 31 May 304 in San Canzian d'Isonzo near Aquileia. They are celebrated on either May 30 or 31.


We move on from the ruins taking an almost imperceptible path that gradually becomes wider, until we finally reach a broader, unpaved path that heads right, towards the abandoned hamlet of Bonašini. But, we turn left and soon reach the second intersection. If you’ve had enough walking for the day, we can go left to return to the villages of Dausi and Borut. Otherwise, we proceed on the right, towards the hamlet of Tenčići. Along our joiurney, we witness panoramic views of the distant Lindar and Gračišće unfolding on our right, and of the neighbouring Gradinji breg, whose name itself tells you this is another prehistoric fortress. On our left hand side we can admire the view of Učka and Ćićarija. Many visitors will recognize (from left to right): Roč, Semić, Lupoglav, Gorenja and Dolenja Vas, Boljun, Vranja and the tunnel of Učka. Our path takes us just nearby the hamlets of Tenčići and Bregi, where a short asphalt section of our path begins. We go down to the foot of Straževica hill, where we encounter an intersection. Here we might proceed on the left by taking the forest path leading to Paz, but a better thing to do would be to keep on the asphalt section following the markings for about another 200 metres until you climb up Straževica. The name of the hill instantly brings to mind the purpose which this natural elevation had throughout history (straža=guard). Where there once was a guard, there must be a good view! It is something definitely worth checking.


On the way to Paz we first walk through a forest, and afterwards through a landscape dominated by infertile but appealing flysch terrain. In the distance, we’ll see the country castle Belaj surrounded by vineyards, while at one point we have a grandstand view of Boljun, and only a few moments later a view of Paz as well. Having spotted Paz – we have accomplished exactly one half of our today’s journey. From Paz we return to Borut taking another, slightly shorter path. First, we set out on the same path until reaching the intersection heading towards the hamlets of Tupaljica and Makarunska Vas. At Makarunska Vas we abandon the wide unpaved path and turn left onto the narrow tractor path, descending deeper into the valley. At the end of the valley there is a gentle climb, around 1 km long, after which we reach arable, fertile tableland that abounds in cultivated fields. The typical products of this area can be tasted at agrotourism Stara štala, which is straight ahead on our path, at the very entrance to the hamlet of Sandalji. It would be the best if you could book one day in advance, though even if you phone them during you walk, the hosts will be ready to offer you something delicious and invigorating. From Sandalji to Borut there are around two more kilometres of asphalt road. Before the very end of the journey, pay attention to the façade of the Holy Spirit church that you are passing by. There is a stone above the entrance door bearing a Glagolitic inscription of the year when the church was constructed, which was all the way back in 1560.