I am lucky to have a very engaging and well traveled Grandpa. With a zeal for life and the sharing of knowledge, he is perhaps the person most excited to hear about and encourage my continuous travels. When planning my recent trip to Croatia, I recalled his excitement over the charming coastal town of Rovinj and knew it would be remiss of me not to make a point of stopping there.
As you drive closer to the waterfront, the Old Town of Rovinj, situated on a small peninsula comes into view with its stone buildings cascading directly into the water and the tower of the Church of St Euphemia jutting upwards at the center of town. Only local access is allowed into the Old Town vehicle wise, but there are several parking areas in the vicinity. We chose to stay at Angelo d'Oro, a quaint boutique hotel just steps from all the main sites in Rovinj. The hotel has an offsite parking lot and will send someone to pick you up via golf cart. The hotel offers a complimentary European breakfast buffet and has a cozy interior garden / courtyard area outfitted with plush couches and greenery. The staff was pleasant, and our overall stay was most agreeable.
Once settled in, stroll the rustic winding streets reminiscent of a coastal Italian town (wear shoes with good traction as the stones are quite slippery). Pop into shops or stop at the market where vendors sell a host of goods including olive oils, truffle delicacies, and pottery. Wind up to the Church where you will have lovely views over the surrounding harbor and coastline. For even better views pay the small 20 kuna fee to climb the rickety wooden steps up to the top of the belltower. Take your time, as this original stairway is well worn and has likely seen much better days. From the highest vantage point in the city, take in the sweeping coastal views.
After making your way down the belltower steps, you will likely be ready for a drink. Head to Piassa Granda and try the specialties of the Istrian wine region. With a charming and knowledgeable owner (Helena) and both interior and exterior seating areas, you will feel well taken care of and not want to leave. Sip on your vino and enjoy the people watching.
As the sun begins to drop lower into the sky, find a seat at the jetty in the main harbor area and enjoy the sunset. During my visit, I had watched the sunrise over Lake Bled and ended my day with a beautiful sunset over Rovinj - it was a good day to say the least. Once the sun dips below the horizon and the colorful clouds fade to grey, walk the short distance to Balbi, a restaurant located in a small square that serves up a variety of seafood and italian-esque dishes. We tried the seafood stew (a local delicacy), grilled fish, and a spicy pasta. Everything was tasty and the service was efficient and amiable.
Off to bed, where the sound of the water lapping against the stone walls slowly put us to sleep.
ROVINJ PACKING ESSENTIALS