24 hours in Istria

Chris and I left our home base in Rovinj and spent the day driving down the Istrian coast line. We started early, after only sleeping 3 hours, a new pattern, but I think this will eventually change. Surely we are sleeping less because we are getting a much needed dose of vitamin D. And even though I reapplied SPF 50 several times, my skin is a new shade of golden brown.

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Rovinj, Italy’s better looking cousin. 

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This sweet Rovinj vendor gave us an heirloom tomato for our picnic. 

We started in the ancient Roman town of Porec, a UNESCO world heritage site, and loved walking the cobblestone streets before the hoards of tourists that would arrive a few hours later. We drank cappuccinos outside and ate gelato for breakfast (without guilt). We toured the Euphrasian Basicllica and marveled over its 1500 years of age. We then went drove down the coast to the most Southern tip of the Istrian Pennisula, Kamenjak National Park, and swam in the Adriatic for the first time.

Truffles Truffles Truffles! On the way, we bought local olive oil and truffle-infused goat cheese from vendors on the side of the road. (I don’t think either item will actually make it home.)

We ended the day in Pula, our new favorite hangout, and home of the 2000 year old Pula Arena. The Arena is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. We bought bread, Croatian prosciutto, a bottle of Istrian white wine and picnicked in an open square in the center of town.

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Pula Arena, one of the best preserved coliseums of the Roman Empire.

The waiter of the restaurant we frequented the day before recognized us. We had a great chat about Croatia and the former Yugoslavia after finding out he was a history student. I told him my grandfathers surname, then he identified the exact location of where my grandfathers family originated, a Croatian town now located in Northern Herzegovina, and my grandfather’s family, being catholic, most likely fled to Italy during the Ottoman Turk invasion.

He seemed pretty sure of himself, and that pretty much made my day.

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The Badass Ottoman Turks conquered all of the Balkans, and then some.

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