In what will end up being our last stop in Croatia, we’re traveling to the ancient town of Porec, most famous for its UNESCO protected, 6th century Basilica.
Our path is along the coast in the main, with an occasional in road through extensive olive and vine plantations. With its rich red soil this area is certainly fertile.
Every so often, we pass fields of wildflowers, pinks and purples but my favourites are the carpets of tiny daisies, lifting their heads in unison to the sun. I spent many a happy afternoon making daisy chains when I was little – they’ll always have have happy connotations for me.
We’re soon in Porec – these are only small hops between stops – and walk in via the harbour under yet another utterly glorious blue sky day.
Our first stop is for lunch, and I finally strike Istrian truffle gold in my choice, a white truffle and lobster ravioli which is superb.
Chris makes an equally good choice with a grana padano strewn steak atop a bed of rocket.
An amuse bouche fresh white cheese flecked with black truffle sets the tone – we’ve chosen well today!
Suitably sated, we meander to the Basilica. Like all ancient buildings its history comes in layers, each faithfully preserved as they were uncovered.
The tour is very well laid out, taking us through the atrium,
to the original baptismal font,
up into the bell tower, which has stunning views over the sea,
and through the Bishop’s residence,
– the Basilica was built for Bishop Euphrasius between 539 and 553 by enlarging the 4th century Oratory of St Maurus Martyr. There are many mosaic floors remaining in tact from both periods, which are displayed throughout.
One of the most significant pieces shows a rather bitey looking fish – the early, secrect symbol for Christianity. It’s one of the oldest pieces here.
We learn the reason behind the wide variety of mosaic patterns – the church was built by the community. Each family working on the floors created their own design, some even leaving messages in the tiny tiles.
We pass the roped off sacristy which houses the remains of Sts Maurus and Eleuteris.
The jewel in the crown though, is our last stop, the Basilica itself. Its nave is flanked with Greek marble columns bearing animal motifs,
some Byzantine, others Roman, leading up to the aspe, stunningly decorated in 6th century gold mosaic featuring Christ and the Apostles,
the Virgin Mary and child, and the Saint and Bishop, the latter holding a model of the Basilica. It’s stunning, perfectly preserved, quite breathtaking.
Tour complete, we potter around Porec for a while – it’s very quiet at end of season.
Our waiter told us that it’s insanely busy during summer with a steady succession of yachts pulling in to the harbour. Hot too, with temperatures between 35 – 40 degrees.
We contemplate moving on, but it’s peaceful high on the hill and in the end we decide to stay. I’m reading Liane Moriarty’s new novel “Nine Strangers” which keeps me entertained into the wee hours. I succumbed to coffee after lunch and so sleep eludes me. Luckily this is no problem…more time time for reading. 📖😁