Saturday, January 31, 2009
One of the most beautiful towns on the Istrian coast, Rovinj (Croatia), a city of 15,000 inhabitants, is an active fishing port and tourist resort.
Rovinj is one of a handful of towns in which the rare Istriot language is still spoken (it is estimated that only +-1,000 speakers remain). Originally the peninsula on which the old town lies was an island, separated from the mainland by a channel, which was filled in 1763. The Rovinj Archipelago includes 22 islands, one of which (Santa Katarina) extends into the harbor. Rovinj enjoys a Mediterranean climate with subtropical vegetation.
Rovinj attracts a sizable number of foreign tourists, especially Austrians and Germans, although the recent proliferation of low-cost flights to the area from London has resulted in a noticeable increase in tourists from the UK. During the summer a high speed ferry service connects Rovinj with Venice.
From 1283 to 1797 Rovinj was one of the most important towns of Istria under the Venetian Republic. The city was fortified by two rows of walls with three town gates. Close to the pier one can find an old town gate (Balbi's Arch) dating from 1680, and a late-Renaissance clock tower. The old town is dominated by the church of St. Euphemia and its Italianate tower (campanile).
After the fall of Venice and the Napoleonic period, Rovinj was part of the Austrian Empire until World War I. The city then belonged to Italy from 1918 to 1947, when it was ceded to Yugoslavia; during this period, most of the Italian inhabitants fled. Today three quarters of the citizens are Croats, and only 16% are Italian.
The 4-star Villa Angelo d'Oro Hotel reflects the traditions of its Austrian owners:
Restaurant Monte (below) inside and out.
The streets of the old town are cobbled with smooth, white stones:
Katarina Island seen from the tower of St. Euphemia church:
A picturesque courtyard in the old town: