Two Istrian coastal towns-Porec and Rovinj

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May 6th 2013
Published: May 8th 2013
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Today’s gelato flavour of the day – GMB- Coconut and GLB-Tiramasu

The weather prospects for the day looked OK so we have decided to take the road north to two other ancient Roam towns on the west coast of the Istrian Peninsula.

Rather than take the motorway and pay tolls again we opted for the SS3 which was the old main road to get to Pula from the Slovenian border and virtually ran parallel with the toll road. As expected the road width was much narrower and it was just the one lane in each direction. We had recalled from our last time in Croatia our near miss with a bus on the road around the coast to Rijeka and how the locals seemed to drive rather crazily.

However things might have changed as we found the drivers on the road north very good and there were no dodgy overtaking as previously making the trip much more pleasant.

There was not an awful lot to see until we got to Porec which is a UNESCO World Heritage site principally because of the church with the beautiful mosaics and obviously the history dated back to around 4th century BC.

Given that Croatia has a similar population to NZ and although the land area is only about 20% that of NZ there still seems to be a lot of land which is flat and looks farmable but it just in scrubby low growing trees. Perhaps the soil is not good for intensive farming as the red colour makes it look like outback Australia and it is also rather rocky in places. Or perhaps the Croatians are just not farmers by nature or culture.

Porec was a nice surprise and it presents itself as bit more modern than Pula, despite it being over 2000 years old and still has its old town streets laid out the way they were in Roman times.On entry to the town it is clear it does not have the tall socialist style apartment buildings that Pula has although the population is only half that of Pula.

We parked in a very large public parking area and walked around the waterfront and up into a large square and had lunch before a shower of rain had has wondering whether we had done the right thing in venturing out. The rain was only light and was gone in a few minutes and we were back on track to wander the narrow lanes of the old town which sits on a short promontory out into the Adriatic. From our previous trip we recalled that there are many small towns in similar positions where the oldest part was always close to the water.

As the buildings came to an end the lane we were walking opened out to a marina and very stylish looking hotel. There were 3 super yachts tied up all with London port registrations but no one apparently on board. Perhaps they belonged to London bankers who flew in for long weekends cruising the Adriatic. One can just dream.

We had purposely walked past the entrance to the Basilica, the main reason for us coming to Porec, as we had seen a large party of Asian tourists all diligently following their tour guide heading for the Basilica and we thought it best to leave our visit until they had been and gone. There is nothing worse than lining a photo or video up and having the picture full of something or having the audio with other languages you don’t want.

We thought enough time had passed for the tourist party to have done their tour and we were just about right. We hadn’t counted on a small group of elderly German women who were very vocal given that a church is usually a place of quietness. We were fortunate that they decided not to take the bell tower on for a look as they would taken ages to climb the several flights of narrow stairs, so we had an unimpeded path to the top.

We arrived just as some goon decided he would push the clanger onto the bell to make it chime. It was just as well it was only one chime, which was enough for our ears anyway. The fool thought it was a big joke and he probably buggered up the sequence for the regular striking of the clock.

The tower provided a good view over the roofs of the old town buildings and put into perspective the layout of the town.

We then headed for a small museum which had relics from the past relating to the church that was built in the 6th century including old paintings.

A pathway led past some floor mosaics that had been discovered below the current surface of the church and it was good to see that these had been protected by a waterproof cover. Not all antiquities we have seen on this tip have been looked after so well.

The interior of the church above the main alter had a striking display of mosaics mostly of gold and green colour. Whilst it didn’t equate to what we had seen in Monreale, Sicily it was still very impressive and very well maintained. The colours had a rich depth to them.

We headed away from Porec and started the return south towards Pula stopping in at another seaside town of Rovinj which also came well recommended worth a visit from various guides we had read.

Here we parked a 10 minute walk away from the old town, also on a promenentry, for free.

There was a pleasant walk along the waterfront past numerous shops selling everything a tourist might want or just not need! And of course a number of gelato shops to get our (or at least my) daily fix as we make our way through the entire range of flavours.

The old town wasn’t dissimilar to Porec except at the end before the water there was a church on a high point of land and no marina. The church was not that old built in Baroque style in 1736and had been added to over the years giving it a bitsy look about it.

There were less tourists here than in Porec although that might have been in part to the time of the day as the afternoon was now marching on. The shops on the lanes around the old town were certainly well stocked with items and their owners were sitting or standing outside waiting for custom. It is still too early in the season but we could imagine that they would do a good trade once June and the summer months arrive.

We returned back to Pula by the same road we had left on as there were not a lot of other options to see the coastline in that most of the road leading down to the coast came to a dead end and there was no coast road as such.

After the Italian experience with Lidl we gave them the miss when we went looking for a supermarket upon our return to Pula but instead tried Kaufland supermarket which we found to be very well stocked and very competitive prices. Armed with a packet seasoning for the pork steak and our other groceries topped up, including a 1 litre bottle of wine (we are getting a bit tired of the 1 litre boxes and the taste) we headed for home and a time to put our feet up watching a bit of telly before dinner. It had been a good day out with another World Heritage site visited and some relaxing strolling around two very pretty and interesting Adriatic towns.


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