Hidden amidst the aromatic maquis and forest of Istria’s eastern coast, Villa Stepančić is an ideal base for a family holiday exploring the peninsula, or a relaxing escape for a group of friends looking for some luxury.
Just 11 km from the coastal resort of Rabac with its crystal-clear waters, small beach coves and restaurants and bars, and 7 km from the nearest town of Labin (and its Venetian medieval old-town), you get the best of being both close to the Adriatic seaside buzz and a just short drive into the countryside of the Istrian peninsula with its hill-top towns and increasingly rich gastronomic scene.
The house itself has much history, being one of the oldest buildings in the original hamlet of Stepančići.
At one point it served as a local osteria with its own boccie field.
The current owners bought the house in 2015, and have lovingly redesigned both the interiors and landscape surrounding the house, both for guests and also their own family holidays.
The owner’s family have lived in the region for decades and make their own award-winning wine which can be sampled and enjoyed during your visit.
Villa Stepančić has 4-bedrooms, comfortably sleeping up to 9 people, with 3 luxurious bathrooms and a large secluded swimming pool. The house has been redesigned with a holiday in-mind, combining the old house that once stood with modern minimalism, that still provides plenty of luxurious touches.
Grand exteriors give way to bright, peaceful living spaces and bedrooms, which despite its cool and simple interior, allows the space to function very much as a home.
Distinctly family friendly, the house is designed to be safe, and equipped with child-care essentials and toys.
Accessed via a pathway under an ancient oak tree, the main entrance takes one into a light, airy atrium. To the right is the welcoming and spacious open-plan living area, hosting a beautifully furnished living area with working fireplace, a convivial dining table and a superbly finished kitchen equipped with a large island and a wine rack – perfect for relaxing with friends and family. Huge floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors open out onto two terraces and bring inside the glorious views of the gardens, forest and the pool.
Turning left from the main entrance, one comes to the sleeping area which is exceptionally quiet due to its thick stone walls. You will find 2 bedrooms on the ground floor (1 double and 1 twin) along with 2 bathrooms. Head upstairs for another 2 bedrooms, another double and a twin, and a light airy third bathroom. All bedrooms have been designed to a high standard with plenty of wardrobe space in each.
The villa has been conceived with a fluid indoor-outdoor lifestyle in mind. Conventional boundaries disappear when the retractable glass walls are opened up, creating a natural flow between internal and external areas. To the front of the house, there is a massive age-old oak tree, which provides a lot of shade at all times of day, perfect for reading a book or children to play in the grass. There is the also a 100 year old water cistern built in the local style, flanked with kiwi trees and flowers; another cool spot to enjoy the peace and quiet.
To the rear of the house is another terrace where guests spend most of their time. Fully furnished for outdoor living and dining and accessed directly from the kitchen, this terrace overlooks the pool, surrounded by large daybeds, the perfect spot for re-energising after a hard year’s work. The limestone-paved patios continue all around the house, there are plenty of private areas where you may take a restorative afternoon snooze in a hammock or have a game of table tennis.
The house is part of a wider estate that spreads across 6 acres (around 25,000 m2) where local fruits can be picked depending on the season (figs, wine grapes, cherries, wild strawberries, asparagus, chestnuts, kiwis, etc.)
Villa Stepancic has put in place a number of features to ensure the villa is as environmentally friendly as possible. The villa is thoroughly insulated thanks to both its traditional thick stone walls and modern insulation techniques, so the house stays cool in summer and warm in winter, saving the amount of energy used to moderate the temperature inside.
The villa has also been designed to maximize natural light with the inclusion of skylights on the top floor, creating a light and airy feeling throughout the property. Solar panels have been installed allowing the Istrian sunshine to heat the water used in the property, while a traditional cistern is used to collect rainfall and provide irrigation during the dry summer months.
Fruit trees and a vineyard surround Villa Stepancic, so depending on the season, it is possible to eat homegrown organic produce, including figs, olives, peaches, chestnuts and more! What’s even better, is that any organic waste is composted and placed back in the garden to fertilise the fruit trees. And thanks to this natural surrounding, any wood provided for the fireplace is harvested locally, within 100m of the house.