After our adventures in Hum, the Wine-Premacy piled back in our
trusty questionable mini van, and hit the road to Rovinj. Sitting at the western edge of the Istrian peninsula, Rovinj is a city of cultural crossroads, and crumbling Venetian glamour.
The old fortified hilltown can still be seen with the main city gates, build during the Venetian rule, along with the city walls. While most of the walls are gone now, there are still spots that you can see them, and the shape of the hilltown follows the original town walls.
The stunning views of the Adriatic from the top of the church hill, you can nearly see Venice. You can certainly feel the influence, and imagine the crowded summer speedboats that make the day trips from Venice.
Rovinj (Rovigno in Italian) has been Venetian, Austrian, Yugoslav, and now – Croatian. This is seen in the architecture, particularly the old city gates that were remnants of the Roman rule, and Venetian grandeur. Now, it is quite clearly Istrian, with heavy Italian influences. Our guide, Michaela, was quick to point out that many older local residents still speak a distinct dialect of Italian that is most closely related to Venetian, as well as Croatian. You are also likely to find them speaking English and some German, to accommodate the tourist trade.
One of my favorite parts of travelling is experiencing the local diversity. This part of Europe fascinates me, as cultures collide and borders are fluid. What is a line on a map to the people that live there? Italy? Austro-Hungarian? Roman? Yugoslavian? Not really; Istrian!
A sleepy fishing village in the off season, the multicultural mix of residents, food, and architecture made for a great walking tour. Meandering around the small town, you can see the old tobacco factory, one of the primary industries in this region. The modern factory employees many local residents, but
this historical building now houses city offices and stands over the old town like a grand dame.
You can feel the closeness to Italy in Rovinj, and if you look the other way, you would swear you were in Tuscany or Venice. In fact, Rovinj was a little Venice of sorts, with two islands that were completely separated by a grand canal, which was filled in in the late 1800s to connect the two pieces. This canal is now the wide main street, but it’s clear that there is a separation
between the two sections of town.
As you hike up the hill to the cathedral, you are in a classic Italian hill town, with meandering narrow lanes sloping down to the sea. Sitting on the western edge of the town, the famous bar to the left offers gorgeous views, rocks to sit on, and live music. Can I go back?
This charming town is a perfect stop while you are in Istria. I wish we had more time here, but I plan a return visit soon. Easily accessible from both Venice and several European gateways, this is an affordable Adriatic vacation!
Our erstwhile mob was housed in the modern Hotel Lone, just off the main square, and a quiet walk along the waterfront. This modern
hotel is part of a unique collection of hotels in Croatia, with a focus on design, functionality, harmony and elegance. Arriving at the front door, you almost feel as if you are being dropped off at an airport. From the other side of the hotel, you can see the wave design melding in to the hillside, giving the appearance of a boat.
Our rooms had large balconies, which, if I were there longer, I would have spent a lot of time on. The large rooms had every possible amenity and were very comfortable. I had a hard time prying myself out of the bed! With a command center located by the front door as well as the bed, we could control all of the lights and room functions with a single touch. Every amenity was of the best quality, and the large business center would be an ideal location for a wine conference.
We were treated to dinner in the Restaurant On, one of the hotel’s dining options. Here, the Central European food is served with simple and creative plating, with a focus on flavor and freshness. My halibut with pea puree had the most intense color, and simple, yet intense flavors. It was a late dinner after a long day, and while we enjoyed the fresh and delicious food, I was remiss in taking pictures of my food.
The Hotel Lone was a perfect home base for our day of adventure walking around Rovinj, but also for our afternoon adventure to Managhetti (more on that shortly).