Rovinj from the Sea
Although it’s now part of Croatia, the Istrian peninsula is very Italian in feel. The Italian town of Trieste is less than 15 miles away, and Venice is just across the Adriatic.
Fans of Lidia Bastianich know that the chef grew up here and many of her recipes combine Italian tradition with local ingredients. Truffles are a specialty of the region.
Rovinj is a delightful, waterfront town with a historic center that has Venetian-style piazzas, and charming cafes, galleries, and shops. It was originally an island, but the channel was filled in during the 18th century. The sparkling Adriatic and the picturesque harbor are visible from almost everywhere, and most of the buildings in the old town are well-preserved and protected.
Strolling the winding cobblestone lanes and enjoying a glass of wine at one of the outdoor cafes are the principal pastimes here. There is a small museum in the former palace of Italian aristocrats. Today, it displays archaeological relics from the area and paintings from several periods.
The body and coffin of St. Euphemia washed up here in the 9th century — some say miraculously — and she was made the patron saint of Rovinj. The baroque church that bears her name is a popular pilgrimage destination. It sits atop the highest hill in town. The bell tower and copper statue of the saint that crowns it can be seen as you approach from the sea.
Rovinj hotels are of a high standard and almost all of them have Internet access, satellite TV, minibars, and other modern amenities. Many have activities like water sports and tennis, and several have programs for children.
Built-in 1912, the Hotel Adriatic is the oldest hotel in Rovinj and its location on the main piazza is great. There are views of the harbor, St. Catherine’s Island, and the old town. You can walk to everything from here, including the town’s pebbly beach and ferry docks. The terrace café is popular with both locals and tourists. The 27 rooms here book well in advance, so if you want to stay here, make your plans early.
Located in St. Andrew’s Island, a 15-minute boat ride from town, Hotel Istra is a good place to get away from it all. With two pools, a fitness center, a gravel beach, tennis, water sports, and bike rentals, there’s no shortage of things to do. And if you don’t feel like leaving the island, there’s a restaurant, a pizzeria, a grill, and several bars. The 326 rooms all have balconies or terraces, most with ocean views.
Located next to the Zlatni Rt. nature park, Hotel Eden was renovated in 2006. It has 325 rooms with couches and balconies that have two chairs and a table for enjoying the views of the sea or nature reserve. A lunch buffet is served out on the terrace, or you can dine in the restaurant. There are two pools, a private beach, tennis, a kids’ program, and there’s often live music at night. The Hotel Eden is about a mile from Rovinj.
Above the marina, overlooking the Adriatic and St. Catherine’s Island, Hotel Parc is convenient to both the nature park and Rovinj’s shops and restaurants. In fact. the promenade below the hotel is lined with them. The 202 rooms were recently renovated and there are three swimming pools, a health club, and several restaurants and bars.
The other island-based resort in Rovinj is the Hotel Katarina, on St. Catherine’s (Santa Katarina) Island. The views of Rovinj and the other islands from the waterfront promenade are amazing. The island features some 19th-century parks and an old castle which is part of the property. There are 61 rooms in the main building and another 59 in a newer annex. A full range of activities and a children’s program are available.
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Those who want to stay in a romantic, old town location, should choose Villa Angela d’Oro, which is in a restored palace dating from the 17th century. Each of the 24 guest rooms is individually decorated with antiques, old paintings, and period furnishings. And most have views of the sea. If your room doesn’t, the views from the loggia and library are beautiful. The hotel has a sauna, solarium, and Jacuzzi too.