Founded in 2014th, Motocross Park Santarija in Pazin, central Istria, is welcoming passionate motocross drivers from all around Europe. And they are coming – not only from neighbor countries like Slovenia and Italy, but also Russia, Netherlands, Belgium.
The park is an inevitable contribution to the development of year-round tourism in central Istria, as it keeps getting more attention from foreign MX drivers.
The man behind the work is Giovanni Tominić, who has, with the help and support of his girlfriend Karla, created this unique attraction.
A passionate driver, a yoga teacher, a masseur therapist – this guy is an inexhaustible well of positive energy and kind attitude. Surrounded by animals and nature around his house, he refuses to settle down for anything less than pure respect for all living beings, nature, and life.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The sound of my donkeys braying, and the birds chirping around my house.
But really, what motivates you to get up?
Sincerely? It is difficult to put it in words. My greatest motivation is to make the most of the day that’s ahead of me and to enjoy life. To be thankful, and to be aware of every moment.
And how difficult is that, or rather, easy?
That’s very easy, you just must dare. When I get up in the morning, I check on my animals. Donkeys, dogs, when they hear the sound of my door opening, you can hear them reacting. It’s a feeling of happiness and joy. You feel the nature slapping you in the face early in the morning. You smell the scents, absorb the sun. Every day is something special.
Moment when you decided to build MX Park Santarija?
Although I had the vision of building a motocross park ever since I was a kid, it’s not completely all my work. When I met Karla, my girlfriend, it all fell into place and made sense. One day we were driving very near the terrain, and I explained to Karla how I had wanted to make a motocross park for a very long time. That evening we came home and started working on the project intensively. We didn’t have any money, we only had a good idea, a chainsaw and an ax, you know, village essentials (laughter).
Throughout the process, personal development was inevitable, and there was a lot of compromise with the municipality and the city. It’s all in the energy and intent when you approach towards something – when you have a clear intention in your heart and a desire to contribute society, you make it.
You think people who visit you and come to drive feel that?
I think it’s not wise from me to comment on that. But, for example, we were having pizza in a restaurant the other day, when a guy suddenly approached me. He overheard a conversation from a group of drivers that visited my park, and they said that they had never experienced such hospitality. Something like that stimulates you to work even more. But then again, when a lot of people visit, you also need to know how to set some boundaries. Everyone needs to be given freedom and respect, but also be taught how to respect boundaries and nature.
“Nature is in the first place and always needs to be protected.”
Where do your guests come from?
Mostly Slovenia, then Italy. But I also have tourists coming from Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia. The best thing about that is you get to experience cultural differences and that’s where you connect with people. You recognize the differences in their culture, and they find it very cool how we all greet each other here in Istria. For example when you see your neighbor in the village, you always say ‘hi’.
Yoga is a discipline that requires calmness whereas motocross demands energy. How do you balance both?
Those two are essentially the same thing. When driving, you are with yourself, the same thing goes for practicing yoga. You’re always fighting yourself. The MX trail is like a life path, every curve is unique, you create grooves on the terrain where you ride. It’s all about your technique, and your way of adjusting to trail bumps. Sometimes you jump higher, sometimes you go low. Same goes for life. The more you believe in yourself, the easier it gets, the more you enjoy. So, at first, Yoga and motocross really don’t have much in common, but they both are meditation on the move.
So, these disciplines complement each other?
Exactly. The core of these disciplines is the same. MX mostly teaches you how to react. You can be static, have a static mind, but you must act.
The future of tourism activities in Istria?
Everything that is massive and mainstream at this moment, will go down very fast because we have reached the mass tourism saturation point. People who come here, tourists, they increasingly pay attention to personalized approach and hospitality from their host. But I guess if you give that special and different approach to your guests, they’ll respond in the same way.
How do you manifest this ‘different’ approach?
I think the most important is to behave exactly the way you feel, regardless of whether your guest is a foreigner or your neighbor. You don’t need to change yourself for others. Respect everyone around you and at the same time give 100% of yourself. That kind of attitude is an incentive for everyone to start thinking and behaving differently. In the middle of the process, you’re also learning from other people, and you grow. You get to know people, you connect with them. So, maybe your guests won’t come back next summer, but they’ll come back someday.
“It’s important to create a network of trust among people.”
Do you think that such approach will overcome the current concept of mass tourism?
It’s hard to say. There’s a lot of different people, and not everyone is open to such an approach towards tourists and foreigners. I think it’s better not to overanalyze it. Put 100% of yourself into what you’re working, and don’t go far, everything you need is around you, that’s all. Anyone who works with a good intention is, without a doubt, making no mistake.
Where does our greatest tourist potential lie?
Everywhere you look around. It’s in front of your own house. Only if you have the will.
People from Istria, what are we really like?
We are very narrow minded. We have some established traditional way of thinking, and we are in fact, full of fear. Unfortunately, young people follow behavioral patterns of their parents, but in other ways. It’s always easiest to say that something isn’t working out, and that there are no jobs. And in fact, we lack gratitude for the little things. The problem is also expressing yourself and being sincere. Be honest with those around you – that’s the foundation of everything.