• Photo: motorolka / Shutterstock


Imagine a mini Rovinj of sorts, not quite so well preserved, it's true, and without the hill. This is Novigrad—a pretty little peninsula town that was the seat of a bishopric for more than 1,300 years, from 520 to 1831, and, like Rovinj, was at one time an island (before being connected with the mainland in the 18th century). With its medieval structure still impressively intact, along with its Old Town wall, it merits a

substantial visit and perhaps a one-night stay as you make your way up and down the coast or before heading inland toward the hill towns of Grožnjan and Motovun. At first glance, as you enter town on an uninspiring main road bordered by communist-era, concrete-box apartment buildings, you might wonder if it was worth coming this far. Drive on (or let the bus take you), for you then arrive at a little gem: to your right is a pint-size, protected harbor, the Old Town is in front of you, and to your left is a peaceful park. The bustling, harborside square has a few bars and restaurants. A nearby ice-cream stand is manned by enterprising, acrobatic young men who wow the crowds repeatedly by hurling scoops 50 or more feet into the air to open-mouthed colleagues who then discreetly spit them into napkins, garnering much applause (and generating long lines). If you continue walking past the harbor on the left, you’ll arrive at Vitriol, one of the most popular sunset bars in all of Istria.

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