Istria - Pearls of the Adriatic

Prices from £2,760


14 Sep 2019 - 21 Sep 2019
Duration: 7 nights
Ref: 19ISTR
With: Dr Vedran Barbaric


Prices from £2,760
Single Supplement: £300
Deposit: £200

Book now

Availability: In stock

From: £2,860.00

To: £5,520.00

Your Total Price: £0.00

* Required Fields

Your Total Price: £0.00

Secure your holiday with a
deposit today?

CALL TO BOOK: 01280 820521

Stretching along the Croatian coastline facing Venice across the Adriatic Sea, the ancient region of Istria retains the remnants of civilizations dating from prehistoric times. Across the forested, undulating countryside, dotted with mediaeval hilltop villages, to islands off the picturesque coast where Romans relaxed in seaside villas, we trace Istria’s history, with a noted local historian.

Based in the ancient Roman city of Porec, the tour extends across Istria to find a Bronze Age site, tiny churches decorated with frescoes and Venetian-style pastel-painted towns, reflecting the tastes of the city across the Adriatic that ruled Istria from the 15th-century. Discover the secrets of Glagolithic script, the oldest known Savic alphabet carved in a line of stones, find out how frescoes are made in a workshop and taste world-renown truffles from the forests.


Vedran Barbarić studied archaeology at the University of Zagreb. He works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Split, and lectures on the art and archaeology of the Adriatic area. Apart from his archaeological research, his work focuses on the communication of past and present lives of cultural heritage monuments.

DAY 1:

Fly from London Heathrow to Pula airport and coach transfer to Porec.

DAY 2:

Walk through the ancient Roman streets of Porec with evidence of the Roman period, when Istria was prized for the quality of limestone used for buildings here and across the empire. Early Christians of the subsequent Byzantine period constructed the Euphrasius basilica complex, one of the best preserved sites of the era, recognized by UNESCO. Sample the delicious local truffles over lunch in the ancient hilltop town of Motovun. Then visit the artistic community in Groznjan on the return to Porec.

DAY 3:

Take a coach to Novigrad to see a church with rare Carolingian elements and the museum. Visit the beautiful coastal town of Piran, part of the Venetian empire from the 13th-18th centuries and part of Italy from 1918 to 1947. After a tour of the town, enjoy lunch in a local fish restaurant. This afternoon continue to the church of Hrastovlje where The Dance of Death frescoes vividly evoke the concerns of the mediaeval world.

DAY 4:

At the tip of the Istrian peninsula, Pula became the centre of Roman government. Visit the well-preserved Vespasian amphitheatre, once used for gladiatorial fights, and see the Roman city walls, monumental gates, triumphal arch and Temple of Augustus. In the mediaeval period, skilled masons built the Franciscan monastery in the late Romanesque style.

DAY 5:

Today we spend the day studying frescoes in the small churches of mediaeval villages across the forested Istrian countryside, with a visit to a fresco workshop to discover the secrets of the technique. Glagolithic Alley, a series of stones inscribed with this ancient script, lines the route between the tiny villages of Hum and Roc. In Hum, known as the world’s smallest town, see a replica Glagolithic printing press.

DAY 6:

After some free time, drive to the ancient coastal town of Peroj to see a church with Romanesque frescoes. This afternoon sail to the lovely Adriatic islands of Brijuni, that attracted ancient Romans to build seaside villas and where the Byzantines constructed a basilica and fortified town. Along with a Bronze Age hill-fort and Venetian buildings, the sites of Brijuni are part of a national park.

DAY 7:

The pale stone town of Bale exemplifies the expert masonry of Istria. Visit outlines of the Bronze Age site of Monkodonja, etched across hills and terraces. In contrast, the painted Venetian, town of Rovinj is famed for the baroque Saint Euphamia Cathedral. We take a boat back to Porec, passing the Lim Channel, a scenic wooded bay.

DAY 8:

After some free time, visit a series of mediaeval churches to study frescoes in their original settings. One of the oldest frescoes in Istria at the Church of St Agatha near Kanfanar, probably dates to the 11th century. Discover more frescoes in the churches of the abandoned, mediaeval fortified town of Dvigrad. We continue to Pula airport for the return flight to London.


Twin/double share: £2760 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £300
Tour without flights cost: £2560
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Return flights with BA from London Heathrow to Pula
  • Private coach transfers in Croatia
  • Seven nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Hotel Palazzo, Porec
  • Three dinners and three lunches
  • Guided visits to all sites listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters

Hotel Palazzo****

Hotel Palazzo was built as a seaside Hotel in 1910. This four-star hotel in Porec was refurbished in 2009. Close to the beaches of the Adriatic coast and the old town of Porec, the hotel is ideally situated. Facilities include a restaurant, outdoor pool, pool bar, terrace and a spa with sauna and range of beauty treatments. Bedrooms have a minibar, safe, television, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi.