Maruni are a sweet chestnut species, which compared to “common” chestnuts, are larger, sweeter a lighter colour and their skin can be peeled more easily. Maruni were created by crossing domestic wild chestnuts and seedlings that sailors of Lovran brought from the Far East. The heyday of their popularity was in the 19th century, when they were widely popular in Italy, Germany and Austria.
Their natural habitat is on the Opatija Riviera, especially in the vicinity of the town of Lovran. For decades, every autumn, there is a festival devoted to maruni. The first Marunada was held in 1973 and since then the number of visitors has been growing every year. The renowned British Guardian newspaper listed it in 2010 among the ten European autumn food festivals not to be missed.
The Marunada begins mid-October, lasts until the end of the month, and, except in Lovran, also takes place in the surrounding villages. During the event you can try and learn various recipes from maruni. Cakes, pancakes, pies, and maruni goulash are just some of the dishes that the inhabitants of Lovran will never get bored of. Still, many prefer regular, roasted maruni.
This festival is an excellent opportunity to promote other gastronomic delicacies of this region, as well as to try brandy honey and home-made wine. The event also has a musical and sporting character that rounds off the whole story and provides a unique autumn experience.