london1967: (knocker)
It was time to say goodbye to beautiful Rovinj
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and drive inland.
That day we visited 4 walled towns/villages perched on top of hills. All of them were ruled by Venice for about 4 centuries so they look a bit Italian architecturally.

The first stop was Grožnjan / Grisignana, a small town that was almost abandoned (2/3 of its population fled to Italy when it became part of Yugoslavia in the early 1950s) but was reborn in the 1970s as a village of artists.

It is rather picturesque and in a lovely position

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(the homemade plum cake was yummy!)

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Next stop was Oprtalj / Portole, smaller than Grožnjan and, sadly, not in very good condition. A number of houses seemed to be abandoned/almost in ruins.

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There's a lovely Venetian loggia opposite the town's gate
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Next stop was probably the most popular of the inland Istrian town, Motovun / Montona. The town is high up on a hill and it is quite a steep walk up to the city gate. It is famous for a film festival.

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Here we had a toasted sandwich as a late lunch and then had a look around and a short walk on the walls

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We then drove to Buzet/Pinguente a small town that is renowned for truffles. Here we stayed for 2 nights at Vela Vrata hotel, where we also dined.

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I had a look around town while Adrian was unpacking

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then we had an aperitivo on a little terrace opposite the hotel and overlooking the city walls, from where we admired the sun disappearing behind the hills

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This was followed by another short walk
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and then dinner.
london1967: (knocker)
The morning after Adrian's birthday celebrations, we got in our hired car and drove up north

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to Poreč/Parenzo.

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It is an old town of Roman origin, famous mainly because of its Euphrasian Basilica, a monument on the World Heritage Unesco list because it was the first church in Western Europe with the 3-apse layout.

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We visited the basilica, admired a Roman mosaic and some others dating from the 5th century, had a look at the baptistery and visited the bishop's palace.
I also climbed the tower for the views.

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(This was an interesting painting in the bishop's palace: a canvas which had been painted over not once, but twice!)

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Then we had a walk around town, looked at the remains of a Roman temple and had a toasted sandwich for lunch.

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(a Romanesque house from the 13th century)

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(this is the centre of town, where the decumanus maximus meets the cardo maximus)

Next stop was the small walled town of Novigrad/Cittanova

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The town is very picturesque. It also has a 16th century loggia, apparently the only one in Istria that is located by the sea.

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After our walk around town, it was time for a sit down and a small ice-cream!

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On the way back to Rovinj, we stopped at Sveti Lovreč Labinski/San Lorenzo di Albona a fortified hamlet.
The main gate (Vela Vrata) sports the omnipresent Venetian lion and a strange head, said to be Attila the Hun.

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I really liked the tiny place.

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Back in Rovinj, we decided to go to the bar by the harbour to watch the sunset again, as we had done 2 days before. I thought that I wasn't going to take any more photos, but then I couldn't resist!

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(this time I had an alcoholic cocktail: a cherry blossom)

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After the drink at the bar, we climbed up to Da Sergio, a renowned pizzeria: the pizza was excellent.
And then it was time to go back to the hotel.

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london1967: (knocker)
On the Monday we picked up our rental car at the airport and drove up eastern Istria to Rovinj.
We stopped at 3 places on the way.

The first town was Vodnjan (or Dignano in Italian).
The town looks in parts very Venetian and it's no surprise as most of Istria was ruled by Venice for a few centuries.

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We visited the church of St. Blaise, famous for the "holy" mummies which were moved here from Venice after the Napoleonic occupation. Apart from these, there are 370 relics belonging to 250 saints!
The mummies of Saint Nicolosa Bursa and Leon Bembo are allegedly the best preserved mummies in Europe: their skin is still elastic!
(And according to one of the guidebooks, the body of St. Nicolosa emanates a sphere of healing energy.)
The book warned the reader that the eccentric parish priest would turn away underdressed people, and we witnessed just that with a couple.
He had no problem with us and we had a private tour of the mummies and the museum. It was all a bit weird, I must say. I'm not sure that he was actually the parish priest (he was dressed all in black and had a big cross around his neck) but whoever he was, he was friendly and... very camp. We learned that his favourite singers are Elton John and Adele (I don't think that I'll ever be able to listen to "Hello. It's me" without thinking of him from now on!).

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Next stop was the hamlet of Svetvinčenat, with the Grimani castle

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and more Venetian-looking buildings (especially this church):

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Here we had a spot of lunch and set off for Rovinj.
On the way we stopped to have a look at the ruins of Dvigrad (Due Castelli, in Italian), a medieval town that was deserted about 300 years ago (it survived numerous sacks and the plague, but apparently the location was very prone to malaria).

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In Rovinj, we stayed at the Angelo d'Oro hotel, a historic palazzo in the old town. As it was for Adrian's birthday, I had booked a suite with sea view on the top floor

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After settling in, we had a walk around
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and then went for cocktails (Negroni for Adrian, Shirley Temple for me) at a bar near the harbour to watch the sunset

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We then had a rather uninspiring dinner at the restaurant next to the bar, and we walked back to the hotel, up the steep and slippy streets/alleyways getting lost a couple of times.
But we made it eventually, and we deserved a night cap for making it back in one piece!

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Pula

Oct. 15th, 2016 09:18 pm
london1967: (knocker)
Well shall I pretend that I've never stopped posting or shall I say something? I'll go for the former! :-)

I'm in Italy at my parents' but only 3 weeks ago we were both in Istria.
It was a surprise trip for Adrian's birthday and he only found out that the destination was Pula at the boarding gate at Gatwick.
It turned out to be a good choice because the weather was glorious for most of the week, and we both loved it.
Adrian had been before when we was a child, although he doesn't think he had visited Pula then.

The hotel I booked was near the Roman Arena and so we had a look around after having a pizza (it was a late afternoon flight from London).

Sunday was spent walking around town.
The Arena is the 6th largest surviving Roman amphitheatre and arguably the city star attraction:

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After the visit, we walked along the harbour

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to the cathedral

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and the main square, which stands on the site of the Roman forum.
Here we saw the temple of Augustus (blown to smithereens in WWII but painstakingly reconstructed), the town hall (which incorporates part of another Roman) temple... and a few vintage cars.

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(I learned to drive in one of these! A Fiat 850)

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We had a restorative drink at a cafe' in the square and then carried on 'exploring'.

We looked at a Roman mosaic,
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admired the Roman arch of the Sergii
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and then climbed up to the castle/fortress

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which owns much of its present appearance to the Venetians.

From here there are great views of the city.

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We visited the museum
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then I climbed the tower
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Next stop was the Franciscan monastery
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before taking in another couple of Roman gates
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On the way back to the hotel we stopped for an aperitivo
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After a rest, we were out to watch the Lighting Giants, Pula's newest attraction: the giant cranes in the shipyard are lit up in a variety of colours.

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followed by dinner at a restaurant at the back of the townhall
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It was lovely to be able to eat outside at the end of September!

On the way back, we stopped by this fountain
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near the Arena

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The following morning we left Pula and picked up a car at the airport and drove to Rovinj, stopped at a few place on the way.

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