We love Pula. It was my second time here, Pavel was already here for the third time and we always end up talking about how beautiful the city is. We visited once when we crossed the border from Slovenia on our roadtrip years ago and even back then the city had a special atmosphere.
Pula is the largest city on the Istrian peninsula, but now when there are almost no people anywhere, it was a lot calmer and the arena charmed us once again (as you can see we are literally the only car parked in front of the arena, this is not a parking spot far away from the city centre, it’s the closest you can park by the arena and we were the only ones).
It was opened so we of course had to go inside. The entry fee is 70 kuna for adults which is approx. 9€ and it’s definitely worth it. Especially now since there are less tourists in general, it was just us and 4 other people in the whole arena and at one point we were completely alone.
It was honestly just breathtaking to have the whole arena to yourself. To imagine where the people sat and what it looked like… the Roman amphitheatre was built over 2 000 years ago from stone that was brought here on ships and it was meant to be the pride of the Roman empire and yet, it’s now a pride of Croatia. Who would have thought when they built it. So sitting here, alone in silence just feeling the history, the transience of time, of countries and empires, of cultures was one of the best moments of the trip.
It is also a great town to stroll around. As I mentioned, Pavel was here twice before we visited in October so he knows the city even better so he was the navigator in the narrow streets. And as we walked around, I was yet again fascinated by the cobblestoned streets, imagining how hundreds of years ago people walked on the stones and how it affected their shape over time (yes this is the kind of thing I obsess about).
There are many other reminders of the Roman empire than just the arena. For example the Arch of the Sergii, which used to be a city gate (built 29 BCE, I mean that’s an old gate) and other gates that keep reminding you of the rich history of the city when you come across them. But our favourite is the square dominated by the Temple of Augustus and the city government office next to it. Here, even more than anywhere else, you instantly feel like you’ve walked from Croatia to Italy.
We ended our tour of the centre of the town by walking along the harbour where fishermen were just getting ready to board the ships and leave and the birds were flying around trying to help get rid of anything that would be edible, showing us what the everyday life in the coastal cities and towns looks like.
Our last stop was the sports park with football field, tennis courts etc. because this was where Pavel spent the majority of time during his second visit during the World Inter Universities Championship so we (well, he, I was driving) had a Karlovačko, we chatted about the stories from the championship and when the sun started to set, we decided it was time to head “home” to Rovinj for some dinner and Croatian wine.
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