Away from tourist-headline villages like Grožnjan and Motovun lie any number of picturesquely battered settlements clinging to ridges in off-the-beaten-track Istria. One is Kringa, in the hills north of Dvigrad and reached by a gravel road that leads west from Sveti Petar u Šumi, or by asphalt road that leads east from Sveti Lovre. A huddle of stone houses grouped around a parish church, Kringa receives a trickle of visitors for one rather intriguing reason – it was here that Europe’s first documented vampire, Jure Grando, allegedly rose nightly from the grave to visit the beds of local women in 1672. Slovene geographer Janez Vajkard Valvasor wrote it all down for posterity, visiting the village several years later and speaking to locals who remembered the case. A folkloric bloodsucker who was also a sexual predator, Grando is a key figure in Croatian vampire folklore and clearly cast an influential shadow over the line in vampire fiction that leads through Byron and Bram Stoker all the way to Anne Rice. There is a tiny, somewhat token Vampire Museum (open whenever the owner is around) next to the village’s vampire café, and magnificent views from the village cemetery, where Grando’s unmarked grave is said to lie.

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