Our love of Italy is strong. Very strong. Very few places have even come close to stealing our hearts, but we think we might be about to commit adultery. Although, we feel not too guilty as what we are about to do is with Istria, a region in northern Croatia which had a long period of Italian government and Italian is still quite widely spoken. The whole area has a feel of Italy, from the Roman city of Pula in the south, complete with ampitheatre, to the rolling internal hills, very remiscent of Tuscany and to the jewel in the crown – Rovinj. If this beautiful port was picked up and carefully placed on the Italian coast, it would be as if it had always been there.
The fishing port of Rovinj sits on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula on the Dalmatian coast, with the old town standing on a headland. Multi coloured houses are tightly crowded down to the seafront and around the sweeping curve of the small(ish) harbour, with the picture perfect postcard boats bobbing on crystal clear azure water. A tangle of cobbled streets leads to the hilltop church of St. Euphemia, whose towering steeple dominates the skyline.
We had two days in Rovinj, and although we could have stayed forever, it was certainly enough time to explore the town on foot and get a real feel for it – and this also included numerous stops at quirky or stunning – and usually both – little bars and restaurants.
From the recently refurbished, very elegant Hotel Adriatic, perfectly positioned on the corner of Main Square and overlooking the harbour, to the amazing Valentino Champagne Bar, literally clinging to the cliffs over the bay, to tiny bars serving up the most incredible fresh fish, truffle cheese and local wines, we’ll guarantee you will not find anywhere that even begins to disappoint. And given the location, we’ve not found many places as inexpensive – in comparison to the UK or Italy, you won’t believe what a G&T and a glass of wine will set you back. Let’s just say, you’d be getting change from a fiver 😉
Sandy beaches are in short supply around Rovinj, but as in Italy, rocks are inventively utilised as bathing platforms, so if you need to top up your tan, just pack your bikini and towel and you’re away. Spot the diver too, in the top right hand image of the montage – brave boy with those rocks!
The hilltop church of St. Euphemia is a must to see – its spire is an iconic landmark of Rovinj, and if you take a boat trip around the islands off the coast as we did (15 kunas for a trip of nearly two hours – that about £1.50 to you & me!), the sight of the town and the spire, from sea, is literally breathtaking. The church can be reached via the many cobbled streets or by following the coastal path around – both as recommended as each other. The coastal path is slighly cooler and gives you a chance to nosey into bars and restuarants cut into the cliffs, but the inland streets give you a chance to visit very unusual shops and galleries. A friend of our likened Rovinj to “Montmarte by the sea” and she wasn’t wrong. There is a thriving artistic community and independent businesses are a-plenty – none of your tourist tat either.
Next up – where we stayed…