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Kažuns and Roman Ruins

September 28, 2018

In a rocky field along the highway, we stopped to  examine the ancient stone huts built by farmers and shepherds to provide shelter when they were in their fields. These structures, called kažuns, reminded me of similar huts, called bories, that I saw outside of Gordes, in Provence.

Next stop, Pula, and a walk through its well-preserved Roman arena from the 1st century. The city lies on the southernmost tip of the Istrian peninsula, and, like Rome, has seven hills.

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Our walk today is in the Brijuni Islands, so we took the short ferry over from Fažana. There are more than a dozen islands in this small archipelago, the largest  Veliki Brijun, famous as the summer residence of Marshal Josep Brož Tito, who ruled Yugoslavia post-World War II. He had a famous love for films, and hosted many movie stars of the era, like Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Gina Lollobrigida, as well as nearly 100 foreign heads of state. Though nominally a Communist leader, Tito was a maverick in his time, spurring the creation of the Non-Aligned Group, a collection of countries opposed to the Cold War. For over forty years the island was closed to the public, but now several hotels and restaurants welcome tourists.

The walk led us through a forested former stone quarry, giving out on a huge field, on one side of which was a 1st century Roman villa facing a tranquil Adriatic bay.

One indication of the wealth and stature of the villa owners is the Temple of Love, above left. Livio assured us sitting by the column would bring love for the rest of our lives, so I bought it.

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A short distance from the villa was an excavated village, some of the houses about the size of rooms in the villa.

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Saying farewell to Brijuni, we ferried off to meet Ivana and drive to our final stop of the day, the Meneghetti Wine Hotel, where Livio gave us a lesson on how to buy and taste olive oil, and even drink it for health. One is supposed to experience four flavors as the oil is sucked into the mouth and swallowed: first fruity, then green, then bitter, then spicy. Oh, and it must be purchased in small bottles of dark glass. While we didn’t taste Meneghetti’s wine, we did admire the lovely Relais & Chateau property.

By the time we returned from dinner we had walked about 9.5 miles….

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