Beautiful, ancient, atmospherically decaying Rovinj won our hearts with all her Venetian charms. We couldn’t leave Croatia, without seeing the Istria area which is the small peninsula nearest Italy and is in the shape of a heart or bunch of grapes. Many say it is like Tuscany before tourists.
Rovinj is just a darling, irresistible, fairy-tale town and we are so glad that we saw it outside of the busy tourist season, so that we could savor it almost all to ourselves. There are lots of campgrounds nearby, some quite upscale, but we decided to pick Camping Valdaliso, even though it was a little dated, because my books told me it had internet and great access via ferry.
I was not crazy about it when we arrived, but it is the kind of place that grows on you, so I was quite fond of it by the time we left. We were right on the sea and the price was right at fourteen euros a night (which is equal to fourteen dollars for us since we changed our money to euros and pounds when the dollar was strong). There is a fabulous view from the campsite to Rovinj, it was pretty empty and catching the ferry just feet away to take you there and back, was really handy.
The restaurant nearby is suppose to be great, but we just grabbed some takeout pizza when we arrived at the place a few feet from our campsite and enjoyed that. The waves were crashing very high as they hit the cement enclosure “beach” near our motorhome, and the water would spray straight up about eight to ten feet, which was a thrilling sight for Mozart. There was also some lightening going on at a distance that added an exciting light show effect.
The internet connect was not great, just one small computer at pretty outrageous prices in the nearby hotel (coin operated no less), but it was better than nothing. We took our laptop into town with us when we went the next morning and did find wifi, but could not access it for some reason. Sometimes it seems our laptop firewall keeps us from getting into some open wifi spots, so we could see it, but are not savvy enough to know how to use it.
The water taxi was actually a very fun way to get to Rovinj from the campsite and beats a bus any day. We enjoyed seeing the many sailboats, brave German swimmers in the cold sea, people fishing on the dock and even some pretty windsurfing sails going by. Yet another local boat to try out.
I was just thinking about how used to busses, metros, trains and such, we are now and how we never did that at home. I don’t think Mozart had been on any of them before we left and now she is a pro on them as well as most forms on water. I do like how they give one a sense of everyday life and everyday people in a place. It is a little thing that could easily be taken for granted, but does enrich our experience more than what one realizes.
The highlight, of course, was meeting our Japanese film crew when we arrived and Mozart’s film debut, but Rovinj is so special that it was not obliterated by that exciting event. It is a really easy place to fall in love with and some call it the prettiest town in Istria. By the way, we have already heard from wonderful SoulTravelers3 blog readers in Japan who saw the show and said Mozart was in the opening shot!
One can watch the local fisherman going about their everyday lives as Rovinj remains a very active fishing port, and that was something we all enjoyed. It is also an art center which appeals to us, as we tend to like the way artists live life as art and enjoyed many homes, windows and nooks. The only art we bought was a hand carved wood chess set to add to our game collection which we got at the off season bargain price. I liked some little hand painted vases with lavender, but we really did not have a place for it, so mainly we just window shopped.
We climbed steep narrow cobbled streets threading through shops and tiny piazzas up this high peninsula topped by massive St. Euphemia Cathedral and its 57m high tower, the largest Baroque building in Istria. We enjoyed stopping in at an older artists workshop near the top with his messy paints and detailed art and then the stunning birds eye views of Rovinj and the entire green archipelago.
I am not sure if I liked the cobble stone old part, colorful Baroque buildings or seaport best, but it was all delicious as was our lunch at a waterfront cafe. We were only there two nights and we would have liked to stay longer, but our agenda pushed us on.