Framed against the backdrop of the rocky Ćićarija ridge, the dainty village of ROČ, about 10km east of Buzet, sits behind sixteenth-century walls so low that the place looks more like a child’s sandcastle than an erstwhile medieval strongpoint. Roč has a strong folk music tradition centred on an archaic, push-button accordion known as the Trieština, which is rarely found outside Istria and northeastern Italy. The best time to hear it in action is during the International Accordion Festival (Zarmoniku v Roč) over the second weekend in May: the tourist office in Buzet will have details.
With their neat rows of sturdy farmhouses, the narrow lanes of Roč provide a wonderful environment in which to savour the rustic atmosphere of eastern Istria. There’s a small display of Roman tombstones inside the arch of the main gate into town, and the Romanesque St Barthol’s Church (Crkva svetog Bartula) in the centre, an ancient, barn-like structure lurking behind an enormous chestnut tree and sporting an unusually asymmetrical bell tower.