I had a weekend visit from my parents, who had much more of an adventure getting here than I did. Disliking air travel, they came from England overland, getting the Eurostar to Paris, then overnight to Munich and then Zagreb, where they spent a night, before getting a train to Rijeka where I met them. It wasn’t quite that simple as they experienced the true Croatia transport system; around halfway through their train journey they changed to a bus replacement, which then arrived a couple of hours late (so much like British rail travel). The need to change was not properly explained, and when asking about their return trains three out of four had part of the travel by bus, but one in the middle was just a train journey, so a little confusing.
They stayed in the San Rocco Hotel in Brtonigla, which has been voted the “Best Hotel in Croatia” for a few years in a row. But it is not made clear who awarded this. It is lovely though, good rooms, a pool and sauna, and a great restaurant, where we ate on the Friday evening.
On the Saturday we went to Grožnjan and looked around there for a while, you can read more about Grožnjan and my previous visits here, and then, because it was sunny and unseasonably warm, we ambled along La Parenzana for a few hours to get to Završje (Piemonte).
Završje is a ‘ghost-town’ that is more or less deserted, with many abandoned and ruined buildings. It had suffered desertion, like other towns in Istria, such as Grožnjan, when between the two world wars the Italian fascists oppressed and drove out many Slavs, and under Yugoslavia when many Italians left. To date it has not been extensively resettled, but there are plans to use EU funds to start restructuring it.
Like many towns in Istria Venetian architecture is dominant, although it was only under Venitian rule for about 30 years, before being sold to the Contarini family who owned it for about 3 centuries. Of note is Contarini’s Palace that dates back to the 11th Century.
One thing that is alive in this ghost-town is the agroturism (a farm that has diversified and sells its products in a restaurant) ‘Monticello’. Agroturisms are normally quite simple, rustic, and cheap. After a plate of good cured ham and cheese we had ‘house hen’ with fuži, a minestrone, and the slightly less rustic (but still local) tagliatelle with truffles. Fuel for the walk back to Grožnjan.
On Sunday we went to the coast, visiting Novigrad and Poreč, exploring the old towns and the seafront. Unfortunately the clouds arrived whilst we were in Poreč, so after lunch (and a slight argument about tipping in Croatia) we headed back so my parents could enjoy some of the hotel’s facilities that they were paying for.
On Monday morning we went back to Rijeka, where my parents decided to not risk a delayed train journey and missed connections and hopped on a bus to Zagreb.