It’s a day of farewell, driving out of Croatia, back into Slovenia. It too, like Bosnia, has a tiny section of the coast and an equally tricky border crossing. Instead of crossing back into Croatia though, we continue through Slovenian, to Piran, our last pretty coastal stop.
The weather, finally, is a little unkind. By the time we arrive and have lunch, the heavens open. It had to be chevapchichi, right, our last lunch here? Naughty chips work well for the cold weather! Chips have crept in via tourism, I suspect. I’d much rather have the classic cabbage salad with them.
After lunch, we set about our exploration of Piran. It has an interesting aspect, set upon a small peninsula, a lighthouse at its headland.
With stormy skies and the occasional lightening flash, the light is stunning.
Piran once had a large Italian population, only joining Slovenia in 1954. The change created a population flow – the majority of Italians left, replaced with Slovenians from inland.
We climb up to the highest point, St George’s Cathedral and shimmy up its bell tower. From here, there’s a perfect view of Tartinijev Trg, the main square, but the winds are utterly ferocious and bitterly cold on high.
Interestingly, this square was once a harbour, filled in at the end of the 19th century to rid the town of the smell of stagnant water. The square, named for a local born violinist and composer, Guiseppe Tartini (1692 – 1770)
houses Piran’s neoclassical Town Hall built in 1879 on one side
and the 14th Century Venetian House the other.
Pumped up on adrenaline from the climb, the view and not plummeting to our death from the wind, it’s only later that I realise we failed to go into the cathedral, missing its Venetian baroque interior. Oops.
The weather eventually takes its toll, sending us home and back on the road. It’s just no fun exploring in bitter cold and rain. I’d probably do it anyway, but Himself gets grumpy when he’s cold and wet. We only get to see a fraction of what Piran has to offer.
By late afternoon, the midday rain has cleared leaving a gloriously clear afternoon. We pass many olive and vine plantations, and the last of the enticing spit roasts. We never did quite get the timing right for one of those. Pity, they looked amazing.
It’s not long before we’re at the Italian border. And just like that, our time in my homeland is at an end. A whole raft of emotions accompany this: elated one moment that I got to see so much of it, albeit across what are now different countries, teary that I’m leaving the next. I’ve absolutely loved it here, and I’m glad I saw everything I did – even the really challenging places. It gave me a better understanding of how the countries have moved on, or not, after the war. If we’d only visited the tourist areas, it would have not given the true picture.
We end the day in Italy, just past Trieste.
We’ve decided to give it a wide berth. It’s just too big, too busy, even on a late Sunday afternoon. Instead we’re making our way to Bologna, touted as the most underrated town in Italy and its unofficial food capital. In a country that reveres good food, that’s some claim. We’re both looking forward to testing it.