Istria is the peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic from the mainland of Croatia. A tiny sliver of Slovenia separates Croatia from Italy, and is Slovenia’s only access to the sea. Part of the Venetian Republic for hundreds of years, and part of the Roman Empire long before that, Istria became part of Napoleon’s empire with the defeat of Venice. With the defeat of Napoleon, Istria and much of northeast Italy became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1918, with the end of WWI, it all reverted to Italy. Between the wars, it was under the control of Mussolini who attempted to “modernise” the region. And with the fall of the Axis in 1945, Istria was made part of the new Jugoslavia. With the breakup of Jugoslavia in the 90s, Croatia and Slovenia became separate countries once again.
There is a great deal of Italian influence in Istria, not only in the architecture (which looks SO Italian) but also in the food (olive oil and wine are BIG industries here) and in the culture (Italian is still spoken in places).
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Rovinj Harbor (detail)