Posted by: viewfromtheriva | February 28, 2016

Day trip to Pula from Split–by seaplane!


Normally a 6-8 hour drive up the coast and around to the port city of Pula in Istria, it’s a bit over an hour from Split harbor with the new seaplane service from European Coastal Airlines.  So for our 10th anniversary, we took the seaplane to enjoy a 24 hour overnight trip to this wonderful city.

An 18thC painting of Pula’s iconic Sergii gate, built in 27 or 28BC to commemorate the famous Roman victory at Actium and honor the three Sergius brothers who fought there and were part of the powerful nobility in this area of Istria.

We always enjoy coming to Istria since it’s so distinctively different from Dalamatia.  The food, the streetscapes, dreamy medieval interior, are all such pleasures.  The cuisine here is often described as being like “the new Tuscany”.  Again unlike Dalmatia, the wine, olive oil, bread, fish, meat and even the vegetables are distinctive and delicious.  The dinner we had at Alighieri, just off the main post office square, was terrific and like a everything in Istria, much less expensive!

Gorgeous pate of bakalar (dried codfish) with sun dried tomatoes at Alighieri

Gorgeous pate of bakalar (dried codfish) with sun dried tomatoes at Alighieri

Although Pula is one of the country’s major shipbuilding ports, with tens of thousands of square meters of warehousing, dry docks, fitting yards and gigantic cranes that pretty much consume most of the waterfront area near the city center, once past this industrial maze, the city is really quite beautiful.

In addition to having a vibrant, very sophisticated art community–lots of galleries both public and private (a Milton Glaser exhibit was on while we were here!), the in-city parks, gently sloping streets, pubic squares and world-class Roman monuments make the city a compelling destination.

The Pula Colosseum, the 6th largest in the world. erected during the reign of Vespasian

The Pula Colosseum, the 6th largest in the world. erected during the reign of Vespasian 69-79AD

Just a five minute walk from where the cruise ships and many ferries dock is the monumental Pula Colosseum,  the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved.  Unfortunately, in the city’s zeal to restore and protect this ancient treasure, lots of things were done “improperly” so the structure has never been included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.  Considering its extraordinary construction and importance, this is a shame.  We live in Split, a 1,700 year city, which is on the list and Pula’s Roman legacy is hundreds of years older and far more glorious in terms of the ornamentation that is still intact, like the amazing reliefs on the Sergii Arch, the city’s “Zlatna Vrata” or golden gate entrance–classic gorgeous stone artistry long gone from the Zlatna Vrara of Diocletian’s Palace.

The central

The central “white”part of this photo is a reconstruction that ties the entire edifice together in unbroken symetry.  There is a debate among professionals that if part of a monument is “lost” it should be left “lost” and not be re-built with modern materials.  With such a gorgeous structure, so intact, no wonder it was hard for town father’s to leave this “piece”  out!

Every summer, the arena is used as an international concert venue, featuring everyone from Elton John to illustrious opera singers.

Stunning winged angels with chariots above and under the arch, a wonderful relief of a serpent

With winged angels and war chariots intricately carved into its facade and splendid Corinthian columns, the Arch of Sergeii is a wonder–and unlike other parts of the world where such an important monument may be cordoned off to be looked at and enjoyed from afar, this “city gate” is in everyday use by locals.

This area of the city is really thrilling. Parts of the original Roman wall once attached to the arch swoop up a graceful treelined street to the left as you pass through the gate. Just a five minute walk away is a terrific town square with an enormous covered meat and fish market arcade almost as large as the one in Zagreb

File:Pulska tržnica.JPGThe enormous glassed in covered meat and fish market has lots of outdoor stalls for veggies, etc. in the summer

  • The 8 meter high Sergii gate as it looks today.  Although it has not been laser cleaned like much of Diocletian’s Palace here, personally I like the character of seeing the patina of the centuries!
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