Polite words open iron gates.
The Istria region had me at truffles. And while that's a reason in itself to visit the Istrian peninsula, it was nice to visit this part of the country with a heavy Italian influence. The weather was fortunately gorgeous, if not a bit cold, so we got to see the brightly-colored buildings and clear blue waters in their full glory.
This sleepy seaside city was indeed very sleepy without the summer swarm of tourists. We had our pick of affordable apartments for the night and chose one that looked out onto the breathtaking Roman ruins. With the sun going down early and many shops being closed on account of the off season (as well as it being Sunday), there wasn't much to do apart from wander around the car-free old town, eat a delicious lunch, and check out the arena.
Rovinj, or Rovigno in Italian since the town is bilingual in that and Croatian, is quite the picturesque island town. The town is definitely much busier in the warmer months, but that didn't stop us from wandering along the cobblestone alleys and exploring on our own. The view of the emerald blue sea from the Church of St. Euphemia is amazing as was passing through Balbi's Arch from 1680 to an open pavilion with colorful buildings and cafe-goers. Mango especially enjoyed Rovinj, walking off-leash and meeting lots of canine friends along the way. Fun fact: You can get a 3-hour ferry from Rovinj to Venice in the warmer months (!).
This sunny, emerald water-edged town boasted fabulous and colorful Venetian architecture. Porec, whose 'c' should have a caron, is most popular in the summer because of its nearby beaches, resorts, and casinos. While the outer edges of the old town and main square bustled with people, the heart of the old town seemed a bit empty. One of Porec's main attractions is the 6th century Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which we unfortunately couldn't find (or it was closed for the season).
This place is so cute that I wanted to scoop it up and put it in my pocket to take home. A village of only 531 residents, Motovun is a medieval town with the original walled town at the tip-top of the mountain. Outside of the walls, which are open to walk along, homes, shops, and restaurants have popped up thus slightly expanding the (slight) village. Since 1999 this mountain town has hosted the international Motovun Film Festival for independent and avant-garde films, which I find to be pretty incredible that they could stuff so many people (and movie screens) into such a compact place. Fun fact: Motovun is on the tentative World Heritage Sites list for Croatia.