The Road(s) to Hum

Halfway to Hum I thought we’d been had.

“Are you sure this is a real place?” Jared asked.

“There were signs,” I said. “It’s a real place.”

As the car wheels crunched along the dirt road, we passed underneath a road bridge. The word ‘Hum’ and a directional arrow were spray painted on the concrete column.

“See? Another sign,” I said, less confident this time.

We drove past three houses and I wondered if that had been Hum. We continued on but agreed that if we went another ten minutes without finding it, we’d turn back.

We passed several more small signs advertising Hum. As we neared our time limit we arrived at the top of a hill. At the end of the road sat a tollbooth where we paid a friendly man 10 kuna (less than $2US) to park. Directly in front of us was the village of Hum.

Hum Croatia
Welcome to Hum.

Hum owes its tourism trade to whoever it was that declared Hum the world’s smallest town. Numerous online sources claim that it was given this title by the Guinness Book of World Records, but I can’t find any evidence of that. An informative sign in Hum explained that it was considered a town due to the presence of a mayor and administrative facilities; because the population floats between 17 and 21, it is allegedly the world’s smallest.

True or not, they’ve stumbled upon a great way to get people to find it, because no way would you come across it randomly.

People come because of the ‘smallest town’ claim, but they perpetuate its reputation because it’s so darn cute once you get there.

Hum Croatia
Vista from Hum
Hum Croatia
Houses of Hum
Gourds in Hum
Gourds were all over Istria. A woman told me they are the current trend in fall decoration.

My first order of business (besides stopping every four steps to document Hum on snapchat) was to get a coffee. Almost immediately an opportunity presented itself, and, as if they had seen me coming, there was a cat in front of the cafe.

Hum Croatia cat
Never make me choose between a cat and coffee or my head will explode.

To make it even better, the cat joined me for coffee and we instantly became the best of friends.

Cat in Hum
The cat may *appear* annoyed but that’s just a bad angle. I swear it was purring.

We nearly had the town to ourselves; only a few other tourists wandered the streets and I never saw the mayor; I assume she or he rules from afar. Passing through the main gates of Hum makes it clear that you’re entering a fortress; the entirety of Hum has remained within the old stone walls since it was built over 1000 years ago. The message at the bottom of the door is written in Glagolitic script, the ancient Croatian alphabet. It welcomes those who are friendly and warns them off if they are not (so I’m told).

Door of Hum Croatia
Enemies, get out. Friends, get in.

Inside, Hum is a friendly place. Music wafted out of someone’s window, a man sat crafting something I couldn’t identify in an art gallery, and there were at least two shops full of local liqueur and jams. Hum is known for its mistletoe brandy, which I sampled but couldn’t quite bring myself to buy. Instead, we picked up a bottle of cherry brandy and a tiny jar of truffle jam. To this day I have not yet opened either. I’m afraid they’ll collect dust in the pantry while I wait for the perfect reason to consume the goods.

Hum Croatia
Hum’s High Street.
Hum croatia shops
I still do not understand the sign on the right but I like the bikes. The other sign – free tasting – I was all over.
Hum Croatia
I love places like this.

We left Hum along the same road by which we came; it took about 15 minutes to reach the highway again. After a few kilometers we came across another sign for Hum, leading me to believe that there are, in fact, multiple roads to the world’s smallest town which would have been handy to know before we backtracked.

It also would have been good to know that there is ‘a significant and exceptional complex commemorating Glagolitic heritage’ linking Hum and the town of Roč. It’s a 3km walk that we probably wouldn’t have done, but as we sped away and I read about it in the brochure I’d picked up, I was sad to have missed it.

Word to the wise: do your research before coming to a town.

Or don’t. Hum was a mystery to me, an interesting stop on a spontaneous road trip that delivered more than I’d expected. You don’t always have to see everything to get the full benefit of a place like Hum; sometimes it’s satisfying enough to simply have proof that it exists.

Hum Croatia
Goodbye Hum. Keep on keepin’ on.

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