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Thursday July 14, 2011


            A little about the City of Piran (flag left, coat of arms right.)  The name comes from the Greek word for fire [pyr] due to the fires that were set at Punta, the tip of the peninsula as a beacon to warn ships heading for the port of Koper (like an ancient lighthouse.)  The city has an area of 16.3 mi2 (42.2 km2) and a population of 4,450 with a density of 250/mi2 (98/km2.)  In the pre-Roman era, the hills in this area were inhabited by Illyrian Histri tribes and was ultimately incorporated into the Roman Empire in 178-7 BC.  They called the settlement Piranum.  The decline of the Empire, from the 5th Century AD onwards, and incursions by the Avars and Slavs (end of the 6th Century,) prompted the Roman population to withdraw into easily defensible locations such as islands or peninsulas. This started local urbanization and by the 7th Century, under Byzantine rule, Piran had become heavily fortified with large walls (right.)  But the Franks conquered Istria in 788 and Slavs later settled in the region.  By 952 AD, Piran had become a part of the Holy Roman Empire.  The Venetians took over in the 13th Century and maintained their control for over 500 years.  As opposed to Izola and Koper, Piran always allied with Venice in all its disputes in Istria.

            Piran is the birthplace of the famous composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini (left & right) who was born in 1692 and died in 1770 in Padua, where he is buried.  He played an important role in shaping its cultural heritage (more later.)  The town's main square, Tartini Square (Tartinijev trg or Piazza Tartini,) is named after him.  In 1892, to mark the 200th anniversary of Tartini's birth, the people erected a monument in his honor.  Venetian artist Antonio dal Zotto was commissioned to create the bronze statue, which was eventually mounted on its pedestal in 1896.  Below is a stock aerial photo of the Tartini Square (left) and of his statue (right.)

               

            Here are some stock photos of Dal Zotto's works; of Tartini here in Piran (left,) of Carlo Goldoni in Campo San Bartolomeo in Venezia, 1884 (center) and of Tiziano di Cadore, 1880 (right.)

         

            In the Middle Ages (below left,) the square was part of the marina.  Below right is a photo of that marina from the 1800s.

            Below is a stock photo from the hill looking to the tip of the peninsula.

What a truly charming little place.



            I woke at 1:40, 6:15, and at 6:55 Marcia woke me up and I was up by 7:00.  At 7:25, I finished reading the 910 lease and signed it.  I then got dressed in my running gear and took the lease down to the front desk and they were nice enough to fax it home to my realtor for me.  I moseyed out of the hotel and across Tartini Trg heading toward the left approach to the tip and by 7:35 I was doing my run along the Piran shoreline to the end of the peninsula and back the other way and then up the hill to the church and walls (red arrows, below.)

            As I went along the shore, there were many people using the gravelly beach.

 

            As you can see, there are many touristy eateries all along the shore close to town (above.)  As I get closer to the Punta (tip) you can see that the beach is not sandy but full of rough gravel (below.)

 

            As I got closer to the end, I came to the fortress-looking lighthouse (below right) at the very tip.  This replaced the fires they used to build here to warn the ships.

 

            Next to the lighthouse is a little church called Our Lady of Health and St. Clement (Cerkev Sv. Klementa.)  It was closed when I went by so here are stock photos of the interior and ...

 

...the ceiling which is in a little need of repair.

            Below are some stock photos of Cape Madona (the tip, Punta,) its lighthouse (Svetilnik) and Preseren Quay (Presernovo nabrežje) from Kraji.eu.

 

 

            Below is the view along Preseren Quay and all the many tourist restaurants that we stayed away from.  I'm sure some of them might be good.

            Below is a closer look at the eating places with Riva Restaurant [Prešernovo nabrežje,  +386-5-673-2180] below right.  It is said to be one of the best.

            Riva also rent apartments here as well.  They look pretty nice.

 

            Here (below) is a look back to the city from the other side, again with more restaurants.

            When I worked my way back to town, I got some very nice panoramas of the boats moored in the main marina just outside the city.

            These panoramas were made with PhotoStitch.

            A perfect shot of a Piranian fisherman repairing his nets.

            As often seen in Europe, they have little niches filled with a Madonna and Child statue.  You can see that this fountain kept the gravel around it wet.

 

            I came across this restaurant sign (below left) for Skarabej [Župančičeva ulica 21,  +386-4-052-2271] that I thought must be an Egyptian one.  It basically serves pizza and pasta.  Below right is a little resting area with an ancient old vine entwined into the building.

  

            I came across a little place called Sarajevo '84 (the year of the Winter Olympics.)  It is a Bosnian restaurant and part of a chain based in Ljubljana, the capitol.

 

            They kept the name of Lenin in Leninova ulica.  Here is the Palača Bartole (Bartole Palace.)  This side is called Ventrella.  Today it houses the Slovenian Post Office.

   

            The other end (below right) is called the Fonda.

            Now for a look at the impressive buildings that line Tartini Square.  At the seaside end near the marina there are several buildings overlooking the water.  The one below has housed the Akvarium (Aquarium) of Piran since 1963 with the Vila Piranesi Apartments [Kidričevo nabrežje 4, +386-5-690-7000, booking@bernardingroup.si] above.

 

            They have 17 fully equipped apartments for two or four people.

            Below is stock photo of what it looked like before the renovation.  Below right is a shot of Hotel Piran [Stjenkova ulica 1, +386-5-676-2100,] another place to stay here and its right on the beach.  They also run the Vila Parnesi above the Aquarium (see above.)

            This building next to the Aquarium is the Travasini Palace (below.)

             It now houses GEA College, a school of business and there is an art exhibit featuring Andy Warhol.

     

            You can rent a really nice apartment right next door (circle below) fully equipped for less than some hotels.

            Nearby is the Tartini Theater (Gledališče Tartini) [Kidričevo nabrežje, +386-5-676-6700].  It seems everything here is named Tartini.

            In 1906, the Piran municipality entrusted the architect Gioacchino Grassi with the preparation of the conceptual plans for this theater. On the basis of these, the Trieste architect Giacomo Zammattio in 1909 created implementation plans, while the actual construction was finished in February 1910.  The painting and decorative work was done by the Trieste painter Napoleon Cozzi (1867-1916).  The theatre was festively opened on March 27, 1910.  Below left is the foyer entry.  On the right is looking toward the stage.

            It was closed when I was there so these are stock photos.  Below left is the view of the lit theater from the stage and on the right is a close up of Cozzi's art work on the ceiling.

 

            Above the stage you can see the fine artwork surrounding the name "Tartini."

            Attached to the theater is the Café Teater [Stjenkova ulica 1, +386-4-171-1888] and the place where the in crowd hangs out.

 

            There are many gates into the once walled city.  Here are four of them (L-R:) the St. George Gate (Sv. Jurija vrata,) the Dolfin's Gate (Dolfinova vrata,) the Muggia gate (Miljska vrata) and the Marciana Gate.

            This building, right across from our hotel, is the side end of the Court House (Sodniska Palača Sodisce) (white building on right.)  Our hotel is the building to the left of it.  You can see the bus turnaround zone between them.  [Excuse the PhotoStitch glitch]

            Below is our view of the side of the Palace and there is this interesting sculpture out front of it.

   

            Below are stock photos of the front of the Court House.  All the bordered photos above and below are thanks to Kraji.eu.  Near by is the Municipal Hall (Občinska Palača) which houses the Tourist Info Center where we went in last night.

            Other unique buildings in the square are the Tartini House (Tartinijeva Hisa) [Kajuhova ulica 12,   +386-5-663-3570] (below left) [open 9-12 & 6-9 July & August] which is Tartini's birthplace and a venue for concerts.  Nearby is the Baroque House (Barocna Hisa) (below right.)

  

            Between the Tartini House and the Baroque House is the Church of St. Peter (Cerkev Sv. Petra) (below) but it was closed so these photos are from Kraji.eu.

  

            It started in 1272 but its present look was built in 1818 by Pietro Nobile.  The marble relief above the door by sculptor Antonio Bossi is a depiction of Christ handing Peter the keys of the Church.

            The interior is quite nice.  The Piran Crucifix dates back to the 1300s.

   

            Right at the corner next to the Venetian House (see below) is the Loggia (Loza.)  It houses the popular Café Tartini (what else) [Tartinijev Trg 3, +386-5-673-3381.]

            It sure looks inviting in the evening.

            There are two flag poles in front of our hotel at the entrance to the square and they date back to the 15th Century.  The one on the left (below left) bears a relief of St. George, their patron saint and Latin inscriptions praising Piran with coats of arms.

         

            The pole on the right (below left) has St. Mark with the lion symbol inscribed.

        

            I had to take my own photos of the Giuseppe Tartini monument which is just in front of the City Hall.  It was erected in 1896.  Click the link to learn more about him.

     

            This time I was lucky and it was the right time of day so that close-ups weren't glared out by the sun.  He is holding his violin and bow, ready to play it.

         

            Tartini's most famous work is the "Devil's Trill Sonata," a solo violin sonata that requires a number of technically demanding double stop trills and is difficult even by modern standards.  A 19th Century myth had it that Tartini had six digits on his left hand, making these trills easier for him to play.  On the left is a better portrait of the maestro and on the right is a copy of his music.

            According to a legend by Madame Blavatsky, Tartini was inspired to write the sonata by a dream in which the Devil appeared at the foot of his bed playing the violin (left.)  Almost all of Tartini's works are violin concerti (at least 135) and violin sonatas.  Tartini's compositions include some sacred works such as a Miserere, composed between 1739-41 at the request of Pope Clement XII (right.)

            Tartini was the first known owner of a violin (right) made by Antonio Stradivari in 1715, which he gave to his student Signor Salvini, who in turn gave it to Karol Lipiński upon hearing him perform, from which it derives its name, the Lipinski Stradivarius.  In 1726 Tartini started a violin school which attracted students from all over Europe.  Gradually he became more interested in the theory of harmony and acoustics, and from 1750 to the end of his life he published many treatises on these subjects.  He had moved to Padua (Padova,) Italy and that is where he is buried, in a crypt (below right) in the very small church of St. Catarena (below left.)

            Below is a better shot of City Hall.

            High up on the building is the usual Venetian lion of St. Mark (below left.)  Now for the story of this little red house (#4) with its tracery windows and balcony in the northeast of the square (below right.)

    

            It is called Benečanka or Casa Veneziana (Venetian House) and was built in the middle of the 15th Century by a wealthy Venice merchant for a beautiful local girl he fell in love with.  She became the subject of much local gossip and to shut them up, he built her this little palace and put up an embedded plaque (above right) with a lion holding an inscription saying "Lassa pur dir" (below right) which means "Let them talk."  Its between the upper two windows and is not easily seen.

   

            As you go through the underpass, you can look back at...

 

... the part that extends over the street.

  

              The building behind it (below left,) has these beautiful faces (center) at the top.  The plaque (below right) in the center states it was built in 1831.

             

            As I wandered around, I wound up on Istrska ulica and saw this bronze statue behind bars in a little private garden.

     

            Then I came upon this little church, Cerkev Maije Tolažnice (Our Lady of Consolation) built in 1439 and got a shot of the interior through the window.

         

            Here is another style of manhole cover.  The streets are very thin.  No wonder they don't let cars drive here.

 

            It is very interesting going through all the underpasses.  This stone plaque (center) was above one of the doors.

            As I started heading up the hill, I came across another church, Cerkev Sv. Roka (Church of St. Rocco) from the late 1500s.  St. Rocco helped plaque victims on his way to Rome and then came down with it himself.

   

            Before I leave the square, here are some stock photos of Piran.

            After all that sightseeing, at 8:00 AM I climbed the high hill to see the church of St. George and the City Walls.  The climb up there was very strenuous.

            Once I arrived at the top I was at the base of the tower (Zvonik) that you see from the square.  It is modeled on the Campanile of San Marco in Venice.  It is 154 ft (47 m) high and was erected from 1606-8.  I didn't climb the 146 stairs (for €1) - too tired.

  

        

        

            Next to the tower is the Renaissance and baroque Stolna Cerkev Sv. Juija (Cathedral of St. George) [Adamičeva ulica 2] built from 1505-1637.  Below right is the apse end of the church.

 

            Here is a look at the interior toward the organ (below left) made by Petar Nakič, a Dalmatian monk, in 1729.  On the right is a silver-plated sculpture of St. George.  The famous St. George was a prince and knight of Capodoccia who was a martyr.  He is also the patron saint of England.

            There were several very old inscribed plaques on its outside walls.

    

            On the other side of the tower is the octagonal Baptistery (Krstilnica) built in 1650.  It contains a 2nd Century Roman sarcophagus now recycled as a baptismal font.  I used my zoom to get two different angles of the statue at the top of the tower.

   

            Nearby were some modern administrative buildings with a church museum [ +386-5-673-3440] and a little park with a great views of the city and shore of Strunjan Bay.

 

            You wouldn't want to fall off this cliff (below left.)  On the right is a stock photo of Strunjan Bay looking toward where I am now.

 

   

            At 8:15 I had to climb even higher to the 656 ft (200 m) stretch of the 15th Century city wall (Mestno Obzidje.)  It was excruciatingly steep; I almost gave up.

            These walls were built from 1475 to 1533 and extended from the sea to the marina.  Seven crenellated towers still remain.  Below are two segments of the trail up (below) and it wound back and forth straight up until I finally reached the top.

  

  

            As I looked for the entrance I saw the sign telling me it was now open and that it cost €1.  I couldn't find any place to pay so I went through the metal turnstile (below) and went inside.

   

            At the entrance there was this metal plaque about Walled Towns.

 

            Once inside, I saw stairs (below right) to climb to get to the top.

     

            Here is a panorama of a large stretch of the wall.

             These cast iron pieces (above right) were all over the wall and must be some kind of symbol.  Below is another example of photo manipulation.  I could only get a photo of this plaque of St. George above me from a severe angle (below left.)  With PhotoShop I could distort it so it looks as if I photographed it straight on.

              Below is a closer view of a crenellated tower.   Below right is an interesting shot I found on a travel site.  It looks the wake of the boat goes through the stone of the wall but it just coincidentally matches with a white cement line.

     

            I climbed more stairs (below left) and got up to the ramparts (below center & right.)

     

            Looking off the back side they have a large soccer field.

 

            Below left is the grounds and on the right is the view of the beach from the top.

            Here are views of the town looking toward the tip.

            Then I kept zooming in for closer views.  It was spectacular and worth the climb.

 

  

            Then I zoomed in on the Cathedral with the tower in front and the baptistry in front of it.

    

              I then tried to get out and the only place I could find was the same one-way turnstile I entered.  I started to panic as how I was going to get out.  There was not a soul around and I even considered trying to scales the walls.  Finally I tried the turnstile and it turns out it let me out.  Whew!!!

            On my way down I took more photos of the town from these heights over the rooftops (above.)  As I get almost down the hill I come across the Minorite Monastery (Minoritski Samostan) with its cloister and Church of St. Francis of Assisi (Cerkev Sv. Frančiška Asiškega) (below) [Bolniška ulica 20,  +386-5-673-4417] which also has a tower.

            As I walked into the courtyard you can see the front of the church and the side building (below right) is in need of repair.

  

            I entered the nearby Church of Our Lady of the Snows (Cerkev Marije Snežne) [Bolniška ulica.]   This church was first mentioned in the year 1404.  A rich woman from Piran donated the money for its construction.  A Baroque altar from the 17th Century decorates the presbytery.  The paintings were only discovered in 1969.  The Crucifixion on a pointed Gothic arch (below) was painted between the years 1450 and 1460 by art master Nicolo di Antonio of Piran.

            I entered this chapel (below left) which seemed kind of plain.  There was a sign leading me to the cloister in the back.

 

            It took a little time to create this panorama of the cloister with its central well.

            Below is my shot compared to a stock photo.

            The cloister had several interesting objects such as the plaque (above right) in Latin from 1430 about a Nicolaus De Bello born in Padua.  There was also this very neat chair called the Piran Buga that was made from the root of a 500 year old olive tree.  I got these shots of it from two sides.

   

            I entered the main Church of St. Francis and it was quite nice with this large shell acting as the repository for donations.  It is originally from the 14th Century.

  

            The ceiling was nicely done with many scenes including angels.

            Below are shots of the altar and the wall pulpit.

   

            In front of the altar there are plaques to the Tartini family.  I think this one says "Friends in life are not separated in death 1727."

  

            This one indicates the Tartini family's tomb dated 1699. He was buried in Padua.

            I left there and got back downtown and at 9:10 I stopped for a cappuccino at a little place that looked inviting called Café Pri Starcu (The Old Man Cafe) [Obala 95.]

            I became fascinated by the large Angel fish in the little aquarium above the soda display (above right.)  I made me lonely for my Koi fish at home.

            I got my cappuccino and got online with their computer and did the LA Times puzzle but I had to keep remembering that I needed to type "Y" to get a "Z."

    

            I finished and decided to head back to the old main square.  Below are photos of the places I walked by on my way.

   

   

            I finally got back to Prvomajski trg (Trg 1 Maja) (1st May Square) where we had dinner last night.  Its original name was Stari trg (Old Square.)  The Fontana restaurant where we ate was originally the town pharmacy.  There is an old baroque cistern (vodnjak) in the center of the plaza that was built in the late 1700s to collect rainwater from the roofs of the surrounding houses.

            If you look very carefully in the right lower edge of the photo below center, you will see a white column with a brown pipe coming at it at an angle.  At the top of the column is a stone putti cherub bearing a fish which holds the pipe of rainwater.  There are two of them but the one on the left no longer has its pipes.

   

            There are two large white statues at the steps up to the plaza.  The one on the left represents Law with the date and purpose of the structure.  On the right is Justice with coats of arms of noble families.

            There is also a tiny white church of St. Donatus in the square.  It was built in the 1200s by the Del Senno family.  In 1824 it served as a municipal warehouse and in 1940 the altar was moved to Portorož.  It was renovated in the 1980s but it looked closed to me.

   

            St. Donatus was born in Louth, Ireland and went to Croatia.  He became the Bishop of Zadar (which we visited on our 1970 honeymoon trip.)  He brought the ashes of the Smyrian St. Anastasia given to him in Constantinople by the Byzantine Emperor (802 to 811) Nikephoros I (right.)  He put them in a sarcophagus in the church (below left) he built there called Holy Trinity (changed to Church of St. Donatus in the 15th Century.)    Donatus died around 811, and was buried in Holy Trinity.  After 1809, following the French occupation of Zadar, his bones were transferred to the Cathedral of St. Anastasia (in Zadar) (below left) where they lie now.

            Certainly an interesting way to live (below right.)

       

            At 9:45 I went back into Cantina Klet [Prvomajski trg 10, +386-5-673-3275] and had another cappuccino with a sparkling water.  It was a chance to relax after all that walking and climbing.

  

 

            Their list of offerings on the wine barrel slats was in three languages; Slovene, Italian and German.  They also have this little patio area under the tree (below right.)

      

            Just before getting back to Tartini Square, I came across the Farmer's Market [Zelenjavni trg] behind the Municipal Hall that was very active at this time.  I was tempted to get a watermelon, but didn't.

 

            I got back to the Square for a final time and headed straight for our hotel.

            Then at 10:35 I arrived and was happy to find that my fax went through.  At 12:00 I showered and packed up and at 12:45 we checked out of the hotel.  I forgot his name but the man at the desk was very helpful.  Interesting, the key is shaped like a violiin.

    

            I checked out of the hotel.  Below is how easy it is with my three stacked bags including my computer bag at the top.

  

            I now had a little time, so I went out walking around after leaving the bags in the lobby.  At 12:55 I bought a pin for €3.

            At 1:05 I took the free city bus to the Fornače parking lot.  I repeated my steps back entering the garage on level 1B then took the elevator up to level 7B.  The prices are pretty stiff but its free when your hotel validates your card.

            When I got there at 1:20 I panicked when I found the car completely unlocked but after checking everything, I found there was nothing missing.  We were lucky this time.  Then I remembered the tough time Marcia had climbing out on the passenger side when we parked and realized that is the reason why she forgot to lock it.  Getting out of the lot was very difficult because my card didn't work and the attendant was not fluent in English.  After much hassle I finally got on my way back to the hotel.


[Due to the amount of activity today, I have split this day into two Diarios.]


            An additional note on the Italians in Istria.  There symbol is a Roman amphitheater in Pula (below left,) a city at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula which is in Croatia.  This is the most preserved coliseum of the 200 there are left in Europe.  I had never heard of it before and is it beautiful.  It has preserved walls on all four sides.  If I had known, it would have been worth the drive there.  I show this here for anyone planning to visit Piran.  The trip is only 52 miles (84 Km) long on the A9/E751 and takes 70 minutes; certainly worth the time.

            The Arena is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers with all three Roman architectural orders (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, above left) entirely preserved.  It was constructed from 27 BC - 68 AD and is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the World.  There are underground facilities (yellow, above right) where the animals were brought in.  Below is a stock panorama of the interior.

            Below is the largest extent of the Roman Empire in 116 AD.  When it collapsed the Romans in Istria held out in islands and peninsulas.  After WWII, the diasphora of 200,000 Italians left Slovenia leaving today only 17,000 Italians in Istria.  The densities of where they are located is shown in the map below right.



[On Sunday, May 20, 2012, we experienced an annular eclipse of the sun here in Santa Monica.  Below are some stock photos of it.

 Here are some of the shots I got of it.

 

KJH                                                   Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #9 

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

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Piran, Slovenia

Sent 6-8-2012

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