Everyone loves Venice, but after a few days, especially at the height of the tourist season, you may feel the need to escape the crowds and try something completely different. Have you considered visiting Pula in Croatia? Yes, it is in another country, but it is very easy to reach from Venice by car (in under 4 hours), bus (about 5 hours) or by high-speed ferry (less than 3 hours, but unfortunately only operating during the summer). The pretty town of Pula lies at the southern-most tip of the Istria peninsula and has a very rich and interesting history, many beautiful protected beaches with crystal-clear water, a mild climate and many unspoiled spots to enjoy nature.
What to do in Pula
Pula has been around since Roman times, (ancient Polensium) and there is a wealth of remarkably well-preserved buildings dating back to this period. The most impressive of them all is the Arena, a Roman Amphitheatre which overlooks the harbour, and is the 6th largest surviving amphitheatre from the Roman Empire. This very large structure dates from the 1st-century and could accommodate 20 000 spectators who came to watch the gladiators fight to the death. The 30mt high outer wall has survived almost entirely and contains two rows of 72 arches – it is most impressive and imposing. These days, people come to the amphitheatre to enjoy pop and classical concerts in summer and the Croatian film festival is held there every year in July. What a wonderful setting!
After exploring the Arena, you should take a walk towards the centre of the town to see the Arch of the Sergii, a Roman triumphal arch, before going to see the Temple of Augustus, a Roman temple built to honour the first Roman emperor. This is the only one of a group of three temples to have survived until today, although it required extensive reconstruction after WWII when it received a direct hit and was severely damaged. There are also some remaining ruins of the Temple of Diana.
Beaches: Pula has over a hundred km of coastline with some superb beaches waiting to be discovered. The beaches are generally pebbly, unfortunately, but at many beaches concrete terraces have been built out to the edge of the water, so that you can slide into the clear, warm Adriatic sea without walking over the pebbles! The one exception is the Bijeca Beach in Medulin, where there is a sandy stretch, making this the best beach for children. Some of the best other beaches are in Punta Verudela, Banjole, Fazana and Premantura. If you have your own transport just drive along the beautifully scenic coast and find your own favourite beach. Many water-sports are available, such as windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling.
Accommodation in Pula: Pula has plenty of accommodation for visitors and you will find many hotels all along the coast, and some excellent luxury resorts, and a few hostels. The mild weather makes camping in Pula very popular; there are several campsites right on the beach for campers to enjoy.
Food: Pula has an interesting selection of restaurants where you can sample the local Istrian cuisine, which is a bit of a fusion of Italian and Croatian traditional dishes, with a large emphasis on fish and meat, while pork, seafood and wine feature very prominently. (Many local wines are produced in Istria and you can drive along the Istrian Wine Roads and visit some of the cellars if you enjoy wine). There are plenty of family-friendly restaurants, making Pula an ideal holiday destination for families.
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The tour of the Parmesan Reggiano cheese dairy, Balsamic Vinegar farm, the Parma ham and lunch at the organic vineyard was thoroughly enjoyed by our family of 4. Paolo was a gracious and knowledgeable host for the day and provided us with insights to the production of the cheese and balsamic vinegar which was enhanced due to his chemistry background. We would thoroughly recommend this tour to those interested in the specialities produced in the Modena region.
We had a wonderful tour, best part about visiting the Modena region!
The tour was perfect. I think Paolo would be a splendid ambassador for Italy in the EU. He knows how excellent Italian food and eating together can solve many major problems, and can stop aggressive behavior. Not the hunt for more money, but the well being of family and friends counts. Paolo shows us the products of ages of civilization and he did this like an artist. So after the tour we really love Italia more and we'll come back. We will call you Paolo, Thanks!
Following two tours with your guides this week I would like to express my thanks for some wonderful experiences.
Monday we did the tour of cheese making, balsamic and Salami which was very good and the guide Paolo was very knowledgeable.
The truffle hunt tour today was absolutely amazing, the guide Stefano is pure gold and the tour was built with much thought. Our best experience so far, by far.
Looking forward to more tours and fun next time we are in Italy.
The group (and me) was VERY satisfied. We really enjoyed the Parmegiano Regiano which was interesting and we got to buy some delicate and cheap cheese, the same with the balsamico. The Ferrari driving was off course an experience for life. The Winery lunch felt very genuine and the people there was really welcoming and nice people. The genuine feeling there was however the big plus for us.
Paolo was excellent as our guide. He also felt very genuine. He did not talk just for the sake of talking, but when he had something to say he did it in a respectful and nice way. Everyone in the group really liked him.
I wanted to let you know what a great day we had this past Friday on our tour with Jacamo. (Probably not spelling it right) He was very nice and explained everything to us. It sure gives you a new appreciation when you are slicing cheese. 🙂 Our tour ended with him taking us to the vineyard for a tour and lunch and there, Paolo, the owner could not have been more nicer. It was a perfect ending.
Please let Jacamo know what a great job he did and how much we really appreciated it and his knowledge
The website is well structured and we received a prompt answer to all questions. Gabriele supported us with all information we needed and the organization before the trip was excellent.
We had an air conditioned van, which was very relaxing through the whole tour. The first stop was the parmigiano production, which was very impressive and interesting. We could learn and especially see all the different steps and even taste the various aged parmigiano. The second step was the balsamic vinegar tasting. Finally the meat part was interesting in the museum but we hoped that we also could see more about the production and their work, but the tasting was delicious. In overall we had a very informative and well accommodated half day with our guide
It was great experience! We visited Parmesan cheese production, Balsamic vinegar farm, Ham museum and Farmer's lunch. Our guide gave us a detailed explanation, we were very satisfied. An excellent tour for a reasonable price, highly recommended.
Nous sommes une famille de cinq et nous avons adoré notre expérience. Les trois endroits étaient choisis judicieusement. Notre guide était très généreuse et super gentille. Nous recommandons ce tour ( parmesan, vinaigre balsamique et jambon de parme).
My family felt our first trip to Italy must include a tour of a Parmesan Cheese Factory so when I stumbled on this website several months ago I had no idea what I treasure I found! From the moment I submitted a request for the tour, my experience with Emilia Delizia was first rate. Gabriele provided excellent customer service by patiently answering all my questions to guide me through the selection and reservation of our Foodie Delight Tour. Paolo, our driver, was prompt, cordial and knowledgeable about the processes we were observing and the area in general conveying loads of information with his well-developed English speaking skills. Our stop in Modena fell on a Saturday so we were quite fortunate to end up with a private tour which allowed us to have a nice, personal interaction with the people at each site. Everyone was friendly, generous with the tastings and we never felt rushed to move along to the next location. Now that we have returned to the states, my family agrees this tour was a highlight of our 10 day trip. I was really looking forward to this excursion and am glad to report it exceeded my expectations.