North of Rovinj, the main coastal route detours inland around the Limski kanal, a turquoise fjord – or more accurately a ria – lined with thick woods rising sheer on either side, which cuts a deep green wedge into the Istrian mainland. In Roman times this marked the boundary between the Poreč and Pula regions – “Lim” is derived from limes, a Latin word meaning “border” or “limit” – but it later became a favourite shelter of pirates, who used it as a base from which to attack the Venetians. An appealing local legend associates the kanal with pirate and adventurer Captain Morgan, who liked it so much he decided to settle down here with his crew, founding the village of Mrgani (which still exists 5km inland from the kanal) in the process.

Mussels and oysters are cultivated here, and can be sampled along with other fresh fish, in the heavily touristed Viking and Fjord restaurants.

Vrsar and around

Occupying high ground near the mouth of the Limski kanal is Vrsar, a picturesque hilltop village curled tightly around a campanile-topped summit. It’s a beautifully preserved, tranquil place, a labyrinth of steep, narrow alleyways, leafy patios and blue-shuttered stone houses. Giacomo Casanova visited twice in the late eighteenth century, mentioning the place fondly in his memoirs, and relatively little has changed since then.

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