Rovinj is a lovely coastal town in Istria, Croatia with a strong Venetian influence as it was part of the Republic of Venice from the 13th-18th century. In fact, all the town signs are written in Croatian and Italian.
While the Venetians had somewhat neglected Istria, upon being seized by Napoleon and becoming part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the town flourished. The Austrians brought the railroad, gas lights, and a huge tobacco factory to the area. Along with cigarette making, Rovinj’s industries include fishing and tourism.
Once an island, the town was protected by a double wall, but now is a peninsula, the walls were converted into houses!
Top Things to Do
Stroll the Streets of Old Town
The twisty streets of Old Town which sits atop a hill are quite charming. Stroll the alleyways, browse the shops and notice all the chimneys coming from the houses. Arrive early as the afternoons are very crowded with tourists and the main streets are very busy.
Enjoy a Meal and Cliffside Views at Restaurant Puntulina
The Pellizzer Family who owns two other restaurants in Rovinj decided to convert their residence which overlooks the Adriatic Sea into a third restaurant called Puntulina in 2004. The restaurant serves local cuisine with Italian influences. Reservations are required. Ask for a seat outside to enjoy the fantastic views!
Check Out the Fishing Harbor
The fishing harbor is lined with colorful homes and includes a variety of boats, most of which are smaller fishing boats rather than large yachts. It is a picturesque place and deserves a stroll around its docks. Yachts can be found at another nearby port.
Visit the Church of St. Euphemia
The Church of St. Euphemia tops Old Town and its tall bell tower is capped by a weather vane of Euphemia, Rovinj’s patron saint. Local fishermen look to the weather vane for direction. When Euphemia is looking out to sea, sailing is a delight, but when she is looking inland, a storm is brewing.
Inside the church, to the right of the main altar is the church’s highlight…a chapel containing the remains of St. Euphemia. The paintings on the chapel’s walls depict her story.
St. Euphemia was the daughter of a wealthy fourth-century family who helped the poor. Unfortunately, her pious efforts took place during the Roman anti-Christian purging. When she was 15 years old, she was arrested and tortured on a bone-breaking wheel for refusing to worship the local pagan idol. Afterward, she was thrown to the lions who refused to eat her.
800 years later, a giant marble sarcophagus containing St. Euphemia’s remains floated across the Adriatic Sea to Rovinj. The fishermen who found it along with the towns people wanted to carry it to the church, but they could not lift it. A young boy arrived and expressed he dreamed about St. Euphemia and was able to drag the sarcophagus up the hill on his own to the place where it is today!
With the church topping the hill, there is also a nice view!
Browse the Local Market
The local market is located at the bottom of Old Town and near the harbor. The stalls near the harbor include a variety of souvenirs for the tourists, but the stalls a few rows back include wonderful local produce including figs, honey, olive oils, lavender and more. Chat with the vendors, try some samples, and then buy some goodies for a picnic on the harbor.
Take a Hike in Golden Cape Forest Park
We spent the morning taking a lovely five mile walk through Golden Cape Forest Park. We started out on the gravel road beneath the shade of towering trees and slowly worked our way to the picturesque shoreline which was sometimes tainted by the nudist colony with people who shouldn’t have been nude!
The walk was lovely and park is a perfect place for hiking, cycling, sunbathing and picnicking.
Take A Boat Ride in Lim Fjord
Lim Fjord technically isn’t a fjord as it wasn’t formed by a glacier and would be better named a channel. Regardless, take a boat through the smooth waterway lined by towering limestone cliffs. There are some excellent views, though beware as nudists enjoy boating in this area too!
Walk From Pirate Cove to Kloštar for a Traditional Lunch at Familia Matošević
We took a boat ride from Rovinj, through the Lim Fjord, and to Pirates Cove where we disembarked. After short stop at this bar, we climbed up a nearby path to a network of trails. We shared the trail with other cyclists as we walked in the shade of a tree canopy to Klostar where we enjoyed a traditional lunch of food from the family’s garden which included a fresh salad, soup, and fritale (fried donuts).
Overall, there are a variety of things to do in Rovinj, a popular coastal town in Istria. ETB
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