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Stories of Croatia: In Istria, A Family History

The personal stories of an animated guide made one guest’s trip to Croatia unforgettable.

A Guest Travel Diary

We knew when we saw Adriano running across the dusty road to meet us on the way to Pula — a smile turning up the corners of his mustache in the glaring summer heat — this wasn’t just another tour guide. He climbed into our air conditioned Adriatic Luxury Journeys van, a twinkle in his eye, a harmonica in his satchel.

He was clearly excited to to show us the Istrian Peninsula — not because this was his job, we sensed. But because this was his home. He wasn’t just born in this region, he was of this region — he and seven generations of his family before him.

“And now my grandson has also been born here as well,” Adriano told us, gesturing broadly.

“Here” was Poreč, a small town on the far Western tip of the peninsula with a history as colorful as Adriano himself.

We would see it later, he told us. As we started our tour in the Pula Arena (ruins of the world’s sixth largest Roman stadium), Adriano put Istria’s past into a perspective no guide book could. How popular had the fertile and scenic peninsula been over the last 100 hundred years? Put in familial terms: Adriano’s father had grown up in Austria-Hungary. By the time Adriano was born, the land had become Italy. His son was born in Yugoslavia, and his grandson, in Croatia.




The peninsula and its people carry each of these influences with a wholly Croatian sense of hospitality. We felt this as we toured through the rest of Pula, wandered through the narrow alleyways and taking in remnants of the Roman Empire. Eventually, we did land in Poreč, where true to expectations, everyone seemed to know Adriano. He played impromptu melodies on his harmonica and told us stories of his youth. By the time we climbed back into our air conditioned van, we parted with Adriano as friends.
Later, trying to describe for friends what we had seen in Croatia — the iconic ruins, the ornate Viennese architecture, the beautiful scenery, the rolling vineyards — it was Adriano who came to mind. We’ll be returning to Istria on our next visit!

-TH of New York, NY 

As with all the vacations we plan, we love customizing each experience to your interests. We can show you around Istria with any itinerary you choose, but we recommend starting with these journeys:

Boutique Croatia 

Small Towns of Croatia

Flavors of Zagreb & Istria 

If you want to explore Istria or other parts of Croatia, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800.908.7108 for more suggestions, activities and events!

Want to share your own travel story with Adriatic Luxury Journeys? Let us know at and we may publish your experience. (Posts can be anonymous or with your name.) 

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