Once upon a time … this is how most fairytales begin, and so does also the tale about a “sleeping beauty” – the Parenzana – which the Region of Istria and the Municipality of Koper decided to awaken and give it a new meaning through the project entitled “Parenzana – The Route of Health and Friendship” and the application for EU funds within the framework of the Cross-border Cooperation Programme.

Being aware of the fabulous trail’s beauty, interwoven into mild Istrian landscape, numerous passionate walkers, researchers, cyclists and nature lovers pointed out the potential that Parenzana could develop by means of an adequate revitalization. Some ideas comprised its total reconstruction, including a new setting of trails and acquisition of real locomotives, while the others focused on trail asphalting and planning of footpath and cycling route. In 2002, on the hundredth anniversary of the first Parenzana inauguration, people started to think and write more seriously about Parenzana for the first time. Soon later on, a public tender was issued for the landscape-architectural assessment of the Parenzana narrow-gauge railway in which the Region of Istria and the Administrative Department for Tourism set foundations for the future project “Parenzana – The Route of Health and Friendship”.

Indeed, the Region of Istria signed a grant agreement with the Delegation of the European Commission in the Republic of Croatia for funds contributed by the European Union within the first invitation for project proposals under Community Initiative INTERREG IIIA Neighbourhood Programme Slovenia–Hungary–Croatia, partly financed from the CARDS2004 programme.

The primary objective of the project is to revitalise the old railway line of Parenzana, on the basis of integrated tourist offer and long-term cross-border cooperation, which involves the arrangement of 60 kilometres of the old railway alignment on the territory of the communities of Vižinada, Karojba, Motovun, Oprtalj, Grožnjan, Buje and Umag. Therefore, the purpose of the project is to rearrange the railway line, which has not so far been utilised, into a bicycle track and footpath, while the task of the Slovenian partners is to arrange about 20 kilometres of the alignment on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia.

The main purpose of this brochure is promotion and education, notably in view of the fact that the majority of future users of the Parenzana alignment, irrespective of whether they are cyclists, walkers or only interested, do actually know nothing or know very little about the railway’s geographical, historical and ethnic value arising from the fact that the Parenzana used to connect three countries and their inhabitants.

In particular the latter is of great importance in informing the public about the project and its results, as well as the European Union, which finances the project. Special emphasis should be given to the significance of the old Parenzana railway line, which will through this project transform into a bicycle track and footpath and thus gain a new function and meaning.

Region of Istria For the Project: Parenzana – The Route of Health and Friendship