My plan to visit Piran was by chance and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful and exciting locations I have explored. My tastes in places to explore are not limited to historical sites like those found in Rome, the party locations like Barcelona, or the postcard cities like Paris or Budapest.
It isn’t that I dislike these places, but rather that I tend to enjoy places that are sometimes considered to be off the beaten trail where one can enjoy natural and man-made beauty in harmony together. These become some of my favorite spots. Such is what I found in Piran, Slovenia.
It was by chance that I visited Piran. I found a flyer about a sunset walking tour that included tasting local wines, cheese and prosciutto. Since local residents can identify many secrets about where I visit and because local delicacies were involved, it sounded like it would be perfect for me to begin my exploration of Piran.
In Slovenia I am living in the country’s capital Ljubljana. Surrounded by mountains, I love this small city with many street performers, dragon legends, the castle courtyard, simple yet beautiful architecture, and history interlaced with Greek mythology.
Nearby is beautiful Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge and several other sites which I will eventually blog about. But my adventure to Piran was special.
Piran is a tiny town of 4000 on a peninsula sliver located on the northern part of the Adriatic Seacoast. It is so densely compact that personal cars are not permitted and wouldn’t even fit into the narrow alleyways.
On arriving at Portoroz and hiking to Piran, I immediately felt an Italian influence on seeing Saint George’s Church Tower and the maze of passages twisting throughout the town in no distinguishable pattern. The oldest home, “Venetian House,” built in the mid 1400’s confirmed the Italian influence in which Piran was part of the Venetian Republic for 500 years in the Middle Ages.
Piran’s small port was a shipping influence in its time. Merchants became wealthy by trading goods of which sea salt was the primary export.
Throughout its history Piran has always seemed to be part of a landlord nation including Romans, Venetians, Austro-Hungarians, French, Italians, and Yugoslavians. In 1991, the region became part of independent Slovenia.
The tour guide showed me the best place in town to get coffee and it turned out that Mestna Kavarna indeed served a superb cappuccino. Finding a great brew of Joe is essential wherever I am!
My two mornings in Piran began with a fresh cappuccino and a warm, marmalade-filled croissant while sitting under a canopy in Tartini Square admiring Venetian House and the statue of Giuseppe Tartini. The square honors the birthplace of Piran’s favorite composer and violinist whose works are considered to be some of the most difficult to master.
One can sit in the square and imagine the excitement of days long ago seeing a ship’s mast growing closer. The ships’ captains brought goods for trade and money for the economy. The port smells of fish are likely the same today as are those from the bakeries.
The colorful fresh watermelons, cantaloupes, vine-ripe tomatoes, orange peppers, and ears of corn make their way to market now as then. The descendants of stray black and white short hair cats roam the alleys today as they have for centuries.
With children playing underfoot, fishermen sold their catch and worked the docks mending their nets. While some financially flourished then, as today, others found a meager existence by scratching out a livelihood as best they could.
Christianity has always played an important role in Piran life. There were once more that 20 churches in this town. In a visit to the monastery, I saw depictions of harvesting olives and processing their oil. Local wines and cheeses also were, and continue to be, important connections to the past where thankful people appreciate the bounty from the land and sea.
Houses in Piran are arranged in a disorganized way and advantage is taken for every small space to build a skinny house, even above alleyway arches where slender buildings are referred to as “flying homes.”
As I have often referred to finding your spot. Piran, Slovenia is one of those for me.