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Around Istria : Koper, Umag, Rovinj, Pula, Rijeka

September 08, 2018 Travel Blog

We finally crossed the Italian border!
This is the first time I drive abroad, and more particularly the first time I cross a border on a vehicle driven by me. I really feel like a baby, an anxious newcomer, scared but curious and tenacious! (I’ll find out later that driving outside Italy is a lot, a lot more relaxing than usual! )
We divided Istria in several stops, both planned and improvised. Mostly we did short and mixed stages on the same day, so photos, places and memories get confused. Meanwhile it can be said that in these places you still really breathe Italy. Many Slovenian and Istrian Croats speak Italian very well, food is still synchronized with Italian menus and wherever you look you can see Venetian architecture.
And yet, apart from that familiar look that you can not help but notice, you’ll find these towns one more delightful than the other. The first stop immediately after the border was Koper, a small jewel with a half medieval half Venetian old town. Then we headed to Piran and Portorož, but due to parking issues (non-existent!) and tourist groups we decided to postpone and continue on our way. Only a handful of miles later we crossed the border again, landing in Croatia!
After a brief consultation we stopped at Umag. This town surprised us with its delicate elegance, its white stones and its historic center that seemed to emerge directly from the sea. A small oasis of relaxation before the real big pearl: Rovinj.
Rovinj was certainly our favorite of all Istria. A historic center in white stone completely perched on the sea, a wonderful view on a surprisingly blue Adriatic (I would like to clarify that since my origins are from Marche, I am used to a brownish Adriatic), a large and shining harbor, but above all a natural park a stone’s throw from the city, more precisely a well-kept pine forest on a promontory with rocky beaches. Needless to say, a long afternoon on those beaches was really deserved!
With a melancholy sigh, we finally left again from there, closing our Istrian tour with Pula and Rijeka, in a hurry to get there as soon as possible in the middle of Croatian forests at the Plitviče Lakes National Park!