…maybe not so hidden, because Bale (or Valle) is well sign-posted on the main road to Pula, but until this weekend, we’d not actually visited it, despite forever saying that we must. So, after spotting a great deal at Hotel La Grisa, we decided to go for it and do the Gourmet Package for €138 per person which included 2 nights with breakfast, your choice of room (subject to availability), dinner for two one night and a wine tasting with small dishes on the other plus unlimited use of pool and sauna area. What a find! Completely renovated four years ago, the hotel is the epitome of relaxation without being pretentious, and with wonderful staff – very unobtrusive but there if you needed them.
The refurb has obviously been done to a very high standard – and, our room also had a bathroom with a bath-tub, most having a walk in shower. For us, a bath is always a plus as we plan the renovations of our very small and poorly laid out bath-less bathrooms.
The pool area is just lovely. After an ill-fated attempt to have a swimming pool at The House, this summer, this was just idyllic. No-one else was using this area so it was like having access to a private pool and sauna. Luckily, no-one being there, meant that no-one saw my inelegant descent into the small disinfectant foot-pool 😉 Sometimes pool areas can be a teeny bit on the scuzzy side, but this was pristine. A massive plus.
Bale itself is just so, so beautiful. Medieval streets, lined with fourteenth and fifteenth century houses, wind in a circle around the hill. Some are still in a state of crumbling disrepair – making them even more enchanting – whilst others have been sensitively restored either as private homes or holiday accommodation. The Soardo-Bembo Castle, is one of the most striking attractions in the town, with its Gothic-Renaissance façade. It was built in the sixteenth century by the Soardo family, then coming under the ownership of the Bembo family and is now considered to be one of the most important monuments in Croatia.
It turns out that Casnova also used to frequent Bale to visit one of his lady-friends…
Dinner on both nights in the hotel was pretty spectacular. As well as the Gourmet Package we did, there is an a-la carte menu and the restaurant is clearly very popular with non-residents too.
Bale is perfectly positioned, between Rovinj and Pula, to do exploration of the south western coast. Istria doesn’t have sandy beaches – beaches are of the pebble/rocky variety, but once you get used to the fact you may need to head further south in Croatia to feel sand between your toes, the views more than make up for it…