Monday, August 17, 2015

Roaming Around the Old Venetian Republic: Street Life, Rovinj, Croatia

Two residents converse in the street outside their houses in Rovinj
There are any number of reasons to visit Rovinj in Istra from Venice, but doing so in order to escape from the tourist crush is not one of them. At least not in August. I don't know exactly what the tourist-to-resident ratio is in Rovinj (a town of about 15,000 residents) during its high season, but around its old town last week I found myself thinking it must be comparable to that of Venice.

There is, however, a significant difference. Whereas the most heavily touristed areas of Venice are largely ghost towns when it comes to actual residents living there (a friend who lived off Campo San Vidal for a time said that, with the exception of an accountant who kept an office on the ground floor of one building nearby, no regular tenant or resident was ever to be seen), the narrow cobbled streets of Rovinj are still inhabited by locals.

Indeed, because space within the walled confines of old Rovinj was so scarce, the town still has almost none of the hidden gardens enclosed within what most tourists in Venice understandably assume to be neighborhoods of nothing but stone and architecture. And because Rovinj has no such hidden gardens or even courtyards among its dense tall old buildings, the domestic life of its residents spills out into the streets on hot nights--or doors and windows are left so wide open to passersby that it's sometimes hard to tell whether that charming interior that beckons you is a homey restaurant or simply someone's actual home.  

I was reminded again of Rovinj today by the news that Venice's population has now dropped below 56,000 and I wondered--as I did when I was visiting Croatia--if, in spite of the masses of people crowding its waterfront ringing the old town, Rovinj could somehow hold onto its resident population, as Venice has been unable to do.

Other commitments--which, Venice-related as they are, may themselves perhaps be the subject of a future post--have kept me from this blog, and from finishing with what I wanted to post about Rovinj. But I hope to do so very soon, and then return full-time to my proper subject of Venice itself. My apologies in the mean time.

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