Rovinj, the Emerald City
As we wind towards Istria from Plitviče, we enter the high speed toll road and race through a series of tunnels to emerge in Istria. We enter a beautiful countryside of green hills and field lined with flowers. Everything is so green. The villages of stone houses topped with red roofs dot the countryside along the road. From Plitviče Lakes National Park to the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia is a easy and pleasant three hour drive.
Our destination for the sixth stop on our tour of Croatia is Rovinj, a town located on the Istrian Peninsula. Istria is the Italian influenced area of Croatia. We immediately notice that all of the signs in Rovinj are in Croatian and Italian. Even the Croatian we hear spoken has an Italian lilt to it. Rovinj is a short three hour ferry ride across the Adriatic from Venice. Rovnj has an old town and a harbor just like all of the other towns in Croatia that we visited except Rovinj feels substantially greener. Trees shade the street and flowers are blooming everywhere.
We check into Villa Kristina, a quaint bed and breakfast just a five minute walk from the old town. After check in, we find the absolute best restaurant in the absolute best location in Rovinj. The Restoran Stella di Mare is located on the edge of the sea just far enough around the bend of the port to provide a cool breeze and a spectacular view. Our waiter, a large gregarious man, is very happy when we order in Croatian. When we explain that we are mother and daughter, he grabs a young man who is also waiting tables and introduces him as his son. He gives us a Croatian lesson. Meanwhile his son shows us photographs of Rovinj during last winter when it was covered with an unusual snowfall. By the time we leave, we feel as if we have been embraced as part of the family.