Sunday, October 9, 2011

Where do Italians go on holiday?

The simple answer to that is: To the coastline of the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia. Being just a hop away from Italy, the whole peninsula is swarming with bronzed, barely-clad-in-anything bodies and fluttered stacattoed conversations. It's what I imagine the Italian seaside resort towns must have been like...before they became the Italian seaside resort towns people now dislike and can't afford.

Typical midday scene in Lovran, a preferred little seaside resort town.
I couldn't help but feel like I was back in the 60s

Having rented a car in Zagreb, we zig-zagged our way down the peninsula from one beautiful spot to another (and there are plenty such spots). One of my favourite memories is the lunch we had just past Brestova, where there is a long but narrow bay, almost like a little rip in the coastline. Sitting high up on the deck of Hotel & Restaurant Flanona, we feasted on fresh squid and roast lamb, enjoying 180 degrees of what is arguably the most beautiful view in this part of the country.

The view from Hotel & Restaurant Flanona, just south of Brestova 
The water is so clear that even from this high up
you can see underwater rocks along the edge
Once you wander off the beaten coastal track, you'll be rewarded with
rustic villages perched on hilltops all throughout the countryside

Rustic, if not slightly decrepit.

Now, because this was the height of summer European holidays and there were a few music festivals over this specific period, accommodation was scarce (to say it gently). On top of that, our CouchSurfing host in Rijeka cancelled on us last minute. Through family friends from Zagreb, we ended up getting accommodation in Pula, famous for its Roman Arena which I admit is quite stunning. We are eternally grateful to Peter, Stella and her family who gave us a last minute helping hand and kept us off the streets for two nights. 

The big...

...and the small. Be honest: would you have seen the line of ants
if I didn't tell you they were there?

Temple of Augustus in Pula's main Forum.

Decidedly old-school.

The street signs and maps for Pula are not user-friendly by any stretch of the imagination and quickly had us so irritated that we escaped to some small seaside villages to get away from all the hustle and bustle. Fažana is a small traditionally fishing village which is seeing its fair share of tourism thanks to its proximity to Brijuni National Park. Despite this, it remains small, homey and has a lovely "local" feel to it that is missing in so many other places in the peninsula. In a word, it is charming. We fell in love with Fažana, its friendly beach and its delicious food, and in the end it was the highlight of the Istrian Peninsula for us.

The whole village of Fažana is centered around the harbour

Many beautiful buildings in tucked away squares

Cryptic message

The most beautiful sunset scene - I am VERY proud of this photo!

Both these photos are taken at the Fažana promenade

Here on the Croatian side of the Adriatic Sea, the water is still crystal clear, the umbrellas are cheerfully bright, and the days are long and warm. The wine and olive oil is exceptional, and seafood bounty fresh and tasty. I can't blame the Italians (or anybody else for that matter) for wanting to visit here for a little fun in the sun.


  1. I would like a guided tour, soo beautiful. E

  2. We'll make it happen one year, I promise. ;-)