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Located on the western side of Croatia's Istrian Peninsula, Rovinj is beautiful port city on the Adriatic whose settlement stretches back to at least the 8th century. It has been claimed by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks, the Venetians, the Austro-Hungarians, the Yugoslavs and, finally, Croatia. It is now a beautiful resort town, whose location, compact "Old Town," and an abundance of seaside cafes and restaurants makes it a sought-after destination. And, although less well known than its Dalmatian counterparts such as Dubrovnik and Split, Rovinj is a favored destination of tourists, earning it the moniker of "the jewel of the Istrian Peninsula." We visited Rovinj twice during our stay in Zagreb, once during AISZ's fall break, and once during the spring with Tracy's sister Alex and brother-in-law Ed. All in all, we spent six days touring the city and enjoying what it had to offer.

Our Air BNB:
Apartment EntranceOn our first visit we stayed at Rovinj Casa 39, in the rooftop apartment hosted by Daniel. The apartment was about halfway up Grisia Street, an artery in the old city that connects the historic center to Sv. Euphemia, high above the town. As you can see from the virtual tour below, it was a cozy apartment with a terrace that offered stunning views of the Adriatic. It was a good base of operations for exploring the Old Town (although it involved a lot of uphill walking to get "home,"). The photo to the right shows the entrance to Rovinj Casa 39. Below is a virtual tour of the apartment.


Virtual Tour of Rovinj Air BNB
Living Room/KitchenSnap Content

Dining in Rovinj
As you may have deduced from the virtual tour above, our Air BnB was not really conducive to cooking, unless you planned on eating Ramen noodles 3 times a day. And so we sallied forth in search of sustenance.

Brasserie Adriatic:
BrasserieOwl in FlightOn the second and third nights of our October stay, we visited the Brasserie in Hotel Adriatic. Encouraged by the two breakfasts we enjoyed there, we made a dinner reservation. The restaurant offers both traditional tables and also a more intimate dining experience with plush chairs and low table which seem to double for tea time visits as well as dining. Dale dined on the pork ribs, while Tracy had the truffle pasta--both were delicious. An unusual feature of the decor was a series of stuffed owls captured in flight, leaving a higher perch and landing on a lower one. How it fits into the "brasserie" theme remains a mystery to us, but it was ey- catching. The photo to the left shows the owl in midflight, while the photos at the bottom show the pork ribs and truffle pasta.
BBQ Ribs Truffle pasta
Pork Ribs
Truffle Pasta


Puntalina:
Puntalina EntrancePuntalina InteriorThe "splurge" meal of our October visit was at Puntalina, a Michelin starred restaurant, perched on a tour overlooking the Adriatic. The photo to the left shows the entrance, off a cobblestone-lined street that winds up from the waterfront, proudly displaying their Michelin star award. Despite its culinary awards, Puntalina remains a modestly priced affair featuring Croatian dishes and a menu built around the local seafood.The photo to the right shows the restaurant's main dining room. There are also outdoor terraces, and a small glass -nclosed room overlooking the water.  Due to the rainy weather and the main room filled to capacity, we were seated in the room overlooking the Adriatic, with windows on three sides. I am certain it offers a splendid panoramic view of the water but, given how early it gets dark in October, we were deprived of the full visual experience. The culinary experience was a different story. Everything about the meal was wonderful. The wait staff is knowledgeable about the dishes, the wines and the olive oils, and the presentation of the dishes was exceeded only by their taste. We dined on scallops, pasta, and local fish. As we found in other places in Croatia (especially on the coast), the dining experience resembled favorite meals in Rome or Venice--definitely an Italian influence.  Enamored of the experience, we booked our return visit for Easter Sunday 2022 before leaving the restaurant.
Puntalina Scallops
Puntalina Pasta
Puntalina Fish
Scallops
Pasta Pomodora
Flounder with Mushroom Truffle Sauce


Neptun:
NeptunNeptun InteriorThe good news is that you do not have to go to a Michelin restaurant to get good eats in Rovinj. One cold, rainy night we braved the slippery steps of Grisia Street to dine at Neptun, one block in from the harbor. We went there oestensibly to sample a local Croatian lamb stew, only to learn that we had to order it 24 hours in advance. So, we naturally improvised. Neptun is a tavern-style eatery. Upon entering, we were directed to a booth at the back of the room, no doubt in an effort not to discourage potential diners peering in through the windows! Our meal (which is shown in the table below) consisted of hot out-of-the-oven bread, salad caprese, a truffle pasta and tuna steak. It assuaged our disappointment at missing the lamb stew.
Puffy Hot Bread!
Salad Caprese
Mushroom Truffle Pasta Tuna Steak
Delicious Hot Bread
Salad Caprese
Mushroom/Truffle Pasta
Tuna Steak


Kantinon Tavern:
Tavern ExeriorKantinon InteriorAnother discovery that we made on our second trip to Rovinj was the Kantinon Tavern, located on St. Catherine Harbor.  Due to the inclement weather, we dined inside in one of the two very large rooms. The tavern occupies what was once a huge wine cellar, as evidenced by the 5,000 liter barrel in the room where we dined. Apparently locals came with their own vessels and took home their table wine from that enormous vessel. The restaurant features an open kitchen, and the helpings were of the same scale as the wine barrel--huge! We started with salads and were
afraid we would be unable to finish the entrees, given their size. Fortunately our eyes never seem to be larger Kantinon Interiorthan our stomachs, and we successfully dispatched fish and pasta dishes, but wisely passed on dessert. It brought to mind the Oscar Wilde quote, "Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing suceeds like excess." So wrapped up on our gluttony were we, that we forgot to take the usual photos documenting our excesses. Sated, we waddled back to the Hotel Adriatic.






Touring Rovinj's Stari Grad (Old Town)
The Stari Grad or the Old Town of Rovinj is a wonderfully compact area. Invariably visits to the Old Town begin at the harbor, move inland to the historic center, and finish at the St. Euphemia Church, overlooking the city. Below is a virtual tour of many of the historic sites, assembled from our two visits to Rovinj. Simply click on the GREEN "Start" button to activate the audio track and begin the tour.


Virtual Tour of Stari Grad, Rovinj
Partisan MemorialSnap Content

Virtual Reality Tour for VR Headsets:

QR CodeThere is also a version of this tour designed specifically for VR headsets such as Google Cardboard, and it works with both iPhone and Android devices. It may be accessed by scanning on the QR code to the left. If you are viewing this on a mobile phone, you may access the VR tour by following this link.



For iOS devices: scan QR code with your device's camera app, tap on the prompt to open Safari. Select "Allow Device Motion" and the next prompt, "Allow Access to Motion Orientation." Turn the device to landscape mode and a split screen will appear. When the screen turns white, swipe up for fullscreen mode, and place in headset. Here is a video of how to do this--it is simpler than it sounds! [The video opens in a new window--close when done to return to this page]

For Android devices: Open the camera app and use the built-in scanner to scan the QR code above. Confirm that you want to open the website, and wait for it to load--it should load in stereo view. Select the fullscreen ("X" option) from the menu at the bottom. Turn the device to landscape mode and you are ready to go. Here is a video of how to do this--it is simpler than it sounds! [The video opens in a new window--close when done to return to this page]


Beyond the Old Town

Rovinj is also home to more than just historical sites--it also teams with natural beauty, as we learned when visiting Cape Forest Park (Park šuma Zlatni Rt) and nearby Crveni Otok (comprised of Sv. Andrija and Maskin Islands)

Cape Forest Park:
Cape Forest BeachCape Forest TrailExtending south from the cafes and hotels that line the harbor, the city gives way to a large natural area, including both an extensive rocky shoreline and, behind it, a forest. Together they comprise Park šuma Zlatni Rt or Cape Forest Park. The park offers not only beaches, but pathways for hiking and biking. They form a refreshing break from the urban setting of Rovinj.



Crveni Otok
:
Boat to IslandView of RovinjOn our second visit to Rovinj we stayed at the Adriatic Hotel (no more trudging up Grisia Street!) and one of the perks was a free boat trip from the Small Pier (referenced in the virtual tour above) to the twin islands of Sv. Andrija and Maskin. The first island (where the boat docks) features a large hotel and is more commercialized, while the second island is more of a nature preserve. Below is a virtual tour which covers the highlights of the two islands.

Virtual Tour of Crveni Otok

Entrance to St. AndrijaSnap Content



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