Istria & Quarnaro
It is the largest of the peninsulas overlooking the great Adriatic Sea: Istria offers yachtsmen about 450 km of jagged and spectacular coastline, among which are well-equipped marinas and spectacular bays. It is the first region of Croatia that can be reached by sea, and land, from Italy and although it is not as famous as the small remote islands of Dalmatia, it offers a cruise to discover a fascinating and sometimes even wild coastline. As for example in the area protected by a national park, the one formed by the 14 islets of the Brijuni archipelago (44°55′ 15N – 13°36′ 30E). Located less than 2 miles from the coast, just north of the town of Pula, all the islands are characterized by the simultaneous presence of Mediterranean and subtropical vegetation and the remains of Roman and Byzantine villas, as well as the ruins of several medieval fortresses and monasteries. To stop in the park there are moorings for a fee and several rules to follow (info: www.np-brijuni.hr/it). A few miles south of Brijuni you enter the large fjord that is home to the natural harbour of Pula (44°53′ 45N – 13°47′ 60E). The most famous town in Istria should be visited on foot from the large Roman Amphitheatre just outside the old town. Built in the 1st century AD for an audience of 20 thousand people, it bears witness to the strong Roman presence on this side of the Adriatic. On the hill that dominates the whole centre of Pula stands the Castle, built by the Venetians in 1632. The stop in Pula ends at the table: at Gina’s (tel. +385 52387943) historical and delicious Istrian trattoria. A few miles to the south are the beautiful beaches that surround the southernmost tip of Istria, Cape Premantura. Wild and bordered by pine forests, rocks and Mediterranean maquis, they surround the village and the bay of Medulin (44°45′ 60N – 13°53′ 20E). Just south of Premantura, we finally land on the islet Fenoliga to admire in the rock a series of incredible dinosaur footprints.