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)

We spent Adrian's birthday in Rovinj.

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First we walked up to the church of St. Euphemia, which dominates the town

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Here I climbed the tower to admire the views.

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I found walking down the stairs rather difficult as because I have big feet I had to walk backwards and they kept getting stuck in the gaps between the wooden steps!

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We then walked down to the harbour. Rovinj is very beautiful but very hard to walk around not only because it is steep, but also because it is paved with very slippery stones. We both had a couple of near misses!

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At the harbour we went on two sightseeing trips by boat.
The first lasted for 90 minutes and was around the islands

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A popular spot for newlyweds!
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Then we had a fish 'picnic' on board
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before setting off on a cruise to the Limski kanal, a 10 km estuary that, because is very narrow, resembles a fjord (in fact it was used as such in the 1958 film "The Vikings" starring Kirk Douglas).
The trip lasted 4 hours with an hour stop at the end of the fjord (where we had ice-cream!) and another stop to visit the pirates' cave (I had a look at the amount of people up those narrow steps and decided to stay on board!)

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Back in Rovinj,

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we had time for a short rest before climbing up to the restaurant I booked for Adrian's birthday dinner

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Monte appears to be the 'top' restaurant both in terms of location and fame in Rovinj, and it was simply fantastic.
A piece of theatre and the food was amazing. (It cost an arm and a leg, but it was worth it).
We first had a Martini rosso under a canopy opposite the restaurant. The maître d' and co-owner look a bit like Robin Wright: elegant, poised and very welcoming.
We chose the 5 course tasting menu accompanied by 5 matching Istrian/Croatian wines and it was all superlative! (We also had 3 amouse bouches, a pre-dessert and some chocolates at the end).
I only have a few pictures as I was too busy enjoying the food, the atmosphere and the company.

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("tartar of filet of beef - panko egg - wild mushroom cream")

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("tortelloni with nettle - summer mushroom sauce - pine cone seeds - parmesan cheese")

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("suckling pig 24h - lentils with pancetta - apple and horse radish")

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("pear metamorphosis" - or as we called it, pear 5 ways, and it was out of this world!)
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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