I had heard so many flattering opinions about Istria’s first Roman settlement over the years, so Mr Word Loft and I, with two companions, took a taxi to Poreč from our hotel in Vrsar.

We were dropped off outside the Open University with its grand red and white brick façade, and the couples split up for the day.

The sea was as alluring as ever, so we decided to go along the coastal path to the centre. All sorts of boats sail to and fro. Ferries travel to Venice, but it takes three hours to cross the Adriatic Sea, and we have been there before, so it was a ‘no thank you’ from us, although the romantic capital of Italy’s Veneto region is one of the most spectacular places I’ve travelled to.  

The walk around the edge of the peninsula goes by the old part of the city and takes in views of pebbly shores, the dramatic coastline, and wildflowers – an appealing combination.

Soon we came across The Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč’s sacred and spiritual building and main attraction. Inside, important areas are numbered so nothing is missed of the early Christian and Byzantium cathedral – no wonder it’s listed on the World Heritage Register by UNESCO.

The air was infused with a powdery floral scent as we wandered, engrossed by the religious artefacts and architecture of the Bishop’s Palace and Basilica. The trek up to the bell tower was worth aching knees, as the panorama from there is supreme: turquoise sea, terracotta roofs and verdant countryside.

I noticed four giant powerful-looking bells hanging overhead in the rafters.

“I wouldn’t like to be here when they start up,” I remarked to Mr Word Loft.

“It’s nearly midday,” he answered, checking his watch, and we dashed to the wooden stairs for a speedy descent.

We made it in time, as minutes later, their joyful chiming was pleasurable at a safe distance as we admired the ruins and mosaic-floored archaeological site outside. Phew!

Having built up a thirst, our next stop was a bar. I had become rather partial to non-alcoholic Mojitos since arriving in Croatia, and that one was the best. Mint, lime and cucumber with trimmings. Perfect in the arid heat.

Next, shopping. Quirky independent businesses and outlets selling traditional wares line the pedestrianised streets. One specialised in rubber ducks, and it seemed popular judging by the people going in and out. Shopkeepers chatted and offered samples of local produce: Grappa and teranino liqueurs – deliciously sweet. And because of the location, copies of icons were for sale, hand painted by an eighty-year-old Poreč woman, such skilful and inspiring work.

There was even a Christmas Shop. I’ll never have enough tree ornaments, and I always make a point of buying them on holiday. It’s exciting when the decorations go up at the beginning of December to recall holiday destinations. And the dated, pearlized bauble with an evergreen on the side will be gorgeous on our travelogue Christmas tree.

The hours rushed by; we had to make sure we went back to where we started to meet our taxi and the other passengers.

Opposite the Open University, there was an old and fascinating round tower from the Venetian era. We had missed seeing it in the morning, and it seemed a fitting place to take our last few photographs of Poreč before saying goodbye.

I’ll let you know more about our Croatian holiday in my next blog post.
Best wishes,
Sue. X