Marco Secchi Blog

Photojournalist in Slovenia and Hungary

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CROATIA: The Village of Pican in Istria

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The small medieval Croatian village of Pican is perched on a 350 meters high hill in the Istrian hinterland, 10km south east of Pazin. 

View from the drone

View from the drone

 

Inhabited by the Histri tribe in early prehistoric times and later on by the Romans naming it Petina, Pican has lost its past importance and nowadays counts just 300 inhabitants. 

Pican is interesting for people searching for relaxation in its old houses  surrounded by the charming countryside that offers numerous opportunities for hiking, cycling and other outdoors activities. 

WHAT TO SEE 

The only visible evidence of the Roman presence is the inscription on the stone incorporated in the doorpost of the house facing the bell tower. Erected in 1872 this 48 meters high campanile that dominates the place is the third tallest in Istria.

 
In the Middle Ages, the town was encircled by defensive walls that are preserved partially because, over time, they were mutilated by houses built on top of them. However, the main town gate, constructed at the turn of the fourteenth into the fifteenth century and renovated in the 17th century is well conserved.
 
The fact that Pican was the administrative centre of central Istria as well as Bishopric seat confirms the significance it once had. The Diocese of Pican established in the fifth century by Byzantium was one of the oldest and smallest dioceses in the world that survived until the eighteenth century(1788). Although small, thanks to its role in the past Pican has conserved a couple of interesting sacral edifices. 

CHURCH OF ST. ROCK 

Before you enter the town on the left side of the main gate there is the small Church of St. Roch dedicated to the patron saint of people afflicted by the plague or other infectious diseases. Its foundation stone was laid in the beginning of the 17th century during one of the most severe plague epidemics. 

The park in front of the main gate to Pićan hosts the sculpture of St. John Nepomucene built in 1714. 

CHURCH of ST. MICHAEL 

The tiny Romanesque Church of St. Michael from the 13th century is situated at the top of 365 meters high Calvary Hill (Kalvarija), next to the cemetery. The interior of this single-nave building is decorated with valuable Gothic frescoes from the first half of the 15th century that were enriched by the Glagolitic engravings during the 15th and 16th centuries. Being located on a hilltop, its natural viewpoint offers a spectacular view of the surrounding area. In addition, this beautiful view was embellished by the stone sculpture The Family by Nane Zavagno, who took part in the Mediterranean Sculpture Symposium at Dubrova near Labin. 

THE CHURCH OF THE ANNOUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY 

This parish church was built on the foundations of a former cathedral of St. Nikifor from the 14th century. The main nave of the old Medieval church was expanded in 1613 but it acquired its current external form after its thorough modification between 1753 and 1771. Its interior was also redecorated in baroque style and the main altar is adorned with a painting of The Annunciation by Valentin Metzinger. Tombs of the bishops of Pićan and other meritorious citizens of Pićan, decorated with relief and coats of arms, are placed under the church floor and the plateau in front of the church. Also, the notes of the “Pican’s mess” celebrated in Old Church Slavon by the Glagolitic priests that is performed even nowadays are found there. Its bell tower stands separate from the church and offers a splendid view of the Istrian countryside. 

BIRTHPLACE of Matko Brajša Rašan 

Pican is also the birth place of Matko Brajsa Rasan (1859. – 1934.), choir master, recorder of old Istrian melodies whose birth home is located opposite the parish church. In 1912, he also composed the current official Istrian anthem Krasna zemljo after the lyrics of Ivan Cukon. 

VIEWPOINTS 

Whole Pican has beautiful views of the Istrian countryside but the most beautiful view is from the church of St. Michael.

The Franz Ferdinand’s Viewpoint situated in front of the cathedral offers an unobstructed view over the undulating landscape of central Istria. 

The viewpoint of saint Helen, named after the church which once stood in this place is also recommended. In addition, this part of the old sleepy village is piled with old abandoned houses with rustic lintels and stairs cut in rock. 

The viewpoint of Saint Helen

The viewpoint of Saint Helen

 

BICYCLING ROUTES 

Gracisce – Pican -Gracisce 

33 km long circular route Gracisce – Lovrici – Skopljak – Floricici – Sopot – Pican – Medigi – Montovani – Oric – Pazanci – Jakacici – Simuncici – Brunici – Gracisce is 50 % surfaced with asphalt that can be done in 3 hours. As the road is very demanding due to the great downward slope to Sopot and upward one to Pićan it is recommended to be ridden only in direction as described above. 

Pazin 3 or Pazin istok
 
This 100% asphalted, 64 km long circular route of medium difficulty could be done in 3 hours. Its hiking points are : Pazin – Cerovlje – Paz – Susnjevica – Vozilici – Krsan – Pican – Gracisce – Lindar – Pazin. 

HIKING TRAILS 

St. Nicefor 8 km long circular trail starting and ending in Pican for much of its length runs through fields. Its hiking points are : Pićan, Pedrovica, Vrh Kružac, Jelčići, Baldeti, Sv. Krištof and Lukeži. 

Other interesting paths are : 
Path of St. Rok
Benkovski slap
Pićan – Gračišće
Pićan – Gologorički dol 

Also, two major Istrian waterfalls, Sopot and Benkovski, are located in the vicinity of Pican. 

EVENTS 

Legendfest
 
The festival of Istrian legends, tales and myths is held at the end of July and at the beginning of August. 

Leni Martin – Lazy Martin

Exhibition of young wines from central and northern Istria as well as from Labin region is held at the end of November and attracts a lot of wine enthusiasts and experts. 

Rokova 

St. Roch festivity, Pican’s saint patron, with all day programme is held in the middle of August. 

Petivina

Wine exhibition of eastern Istrian vineyards is held at the end of may. 

HUNTING 

Public hunting area of Pićan , under the direction of the Kamenjarka Pićan hunting association is at the disposal of the hunters. 

LD «Kamenjarka Pićan » 
Sv. Katarina 35
52332 Pićan 

TOURIST INFORMATIONS

Tourist office for Pican as well as for whole central Istria is situated in Pazin.

Franine i Jurine 14
52000 Pazin 

+385 (0) 52 622 460 

 

info by croatiaview.com

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

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Written by msecchi

June 2, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Travel

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​Losinj Island and Boutique Hotel Alhambra

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Losinj Island

Located due south of Rijeka in the Kvarner Gulf of the northern Adriatic Sea, Losinj is a hidden gem among Croatia’s renowned Mediterranean island retreats. Measuring a mere 20 miles long by 2 miles at its widest point, this compact, idyllic oasis offers travelers a true getaway in every sense of the word. It features sun-drenched seas bordered by spacious, uncrowded beaches dotted with picturesque fishing villages that are reminiscent of a time long past.

 

Traveling to Losinj takes some effort, which may account for the island’s relative obscurity and refreshing isolation from the crowds that flood other destinations during the holiday season. Visitors need to take a car ferry and drive to the island, as there is no international airport.

Once on the island, guests can begin to relax and indulge in the sights and sounds of this seductive place. The warm seaside climate delivers about 2600 hours of sunshine each year, fostering the growth of lush flora and over a thousand varieties of wild herbs that are both beautiful and practical; the herbs serve as natural mosquito repellents, making hiking and cycling the many trails a true delight.

Also commonly known as the ‘Island of Vitality’, Losinj is known for its wealth of health resorts and retreats that focus on the restorative powers of the natural environment, and the locals have a reputation for looking, and acting, far younger than their actual age. Spas, therapy centers and sports facilities are abundant here, making this a wonderful destination for anyone who wants to indulge in world-class body treatments, herbal therapies and rejuvenation.

The island is filled with unique restaurants and cafes serving fresh, local fish, pasta and area wines, providing guests with the opportunity to discover the tantalizing tastes of the region. Cikat Bay is the main tourist region, where windsurfers enjoy the warm waters of what is said to be the most beautiful bay in all of the Adriatic.

Hotel Alhambra

Located on the shore of Cikat Bay in the town of Mali Losinj, Hotel Alhambra is a five-star hotel housed in a historic, centuries-old Austro-Hungarian villa that has been painstakingly restored and refurbished, creating a one-of-a-kind luxury retreat.

Guests of the Hotel Alhambra stay in one of 51 private rooms and suites, including a limited selection of two-bedroom suites. Most rooms offer a sea view, while all come equipped with a balcony or terrace, en-suite baths with robes and slippers, air conditioning, satellite TV and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The long list of hotel amenities include a private beach for guests, complete with parasols and sun loungers; a heated indoor sea-water pool; 24-hour room service; butler service and a full fitness center. There are both Turkish and Finnish saunas, and expert masseuses are available for in-room massages and body treatments.

In the main area of the hotel, an upscale lounge serves up premium cocktails and wines, while the on-site restaurant features an eclectic menu filled with regional and international offerings prepared by expert chefs.

Hotel Alhambra is just a short half-mile walk away from the shops and cafes of Mali Losinj, providing easy access to the best the island has to offer. A marina is also close by, providing guests with access to scuba diving outfitters, charter boat tours and watercraft rentals.

For those who are seeking a relaxing, sun-filled vacation on a true island paradise that blends old-world charm with modern amenities and service, the Hotel Alhambra on Losinj Island is an ideal choice.

Travelers to Losinj are advised to reserve accommodations in advance, especially if they hope to secure space at one of the island’s most sought-after hotels, Hotel Alhambra.

What to see, what to do and where to eat

Mali Losinj

The town was first mentioned in 1398, under the name Malo selo (“small village”). In 1868, it experienced its golden year. There were as many as eleven shipyards, and it became the place with the largest and most developed merchant marine in the Adriatic Sea, even ahead of cities like Rijeka, Trieste and Venice.American author Kenneth Roberts observed that the little town, , seemed to have “produced a hundred seamen for each one produced elsewhere.” Writing in 1938, Roberts said there were currently “four hundred sea captains living on Lussinpiccolo, The place is lovely with many restaurants.

Veli Losinj

Veli Lošinj is  a superb little place has 901 inhabitants and a mild climate and caters to tourists. It is located 5 km from the town of Mali Lošinj. It was an important port and fishing centre until the late 19th century. Today it is known as a tourist and aromatherapy centre. The first mentioning of the town dates back to 1398 by the name of “Velo selo”. The oldest core of the city was built between the 13th and 14th centuries around the Romanesque church of Sv. Nikola (Saint Nicholas) from 14th century. The town grew along agricultural alignments, not along lais-out city streets. In the 15th century the still-standing defensive tower was built, erected to defend the harbour and the settlement, but also to protect the locals from pirate attacks.

Osor

Very old village with a wonderful feeling

Rovenska

A real hidden gem just off Veli Losinj it is for sure worth a visit!

Restaurants

Fortuna Restaurant and Pizza. Pizza  was really good and fish is fresh and lovely . here

Draga friendly place and good food in Mali Losinj.  here

This post has been partially sponsored I did get media rates during my stay at Alhambra Hotel. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

 

 

 

Written by msecchi

April 24, 2016 at 8:22 am

Logarska Dolina – Slovenia dream valley

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The first thing you’ll notice when you step into view of Slovenia’s Logar Valley (Logarska Dolina) is the way the clouds settle lazily between the alpine peaks in a way that seems to suggest the halt of time. I’d heard this glacial valley pass was one of Europe’s hidden marvels, and I wasn’t disappointed, for a multitude of reasons.

Spectacular Sights

My trip through the Logarska Dolina was basically an unending string of breathtaking views. The geography of the area is marked by stretching pastoral meadows surrounding by mountain ranges, all of which is constantly green and fertile.

 

The properties of the valley can be traced back to its roots, as a Ice Age glacier split what is known today as the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. What results is a lush basin, dotted with green farmsteads and stretching up into the brilliant peaks of the valley’s adjacent mountain ranges.

What immediately stood out to me about the Logar Valley was how despite being a location growing in popularity with tourists, it remained undeveloped and in many ways, seemingly untouched by human hands. The inhabitants of the valley are just a relative handful of farmers and commerce leaders, most of whom have lived in the area for generations, culminating in a respect for their place among the valley and a role to preserve its rich nature.

Cozy Accommodations

The duality between everyday lifestyle and tourism in the Logarska Dolina seems to balance in a way that doesn’t cripple either side. Hotel choices are abundant, and available for almost any price range, but staying in the valley felt like being part of the small farming community, rather than simply a tourist. Similarly, the quality and variety of the food in the Logar Valley showcases the finest offerings in this region of Europe, but restaurants were reminiscent of what you would expect within a small farm-based community: quaint and effortlessly comfortable.

What I found to be an understated upside about the Logarska Dolina, and the entire region, was the fact that the views, attractions and great accommodations were available at very fair prices. In a time when many tourist attractions come with a high rate of inflation, the Logar Valley was a great value.

 

Wander through the farmsteads and meadows, or plan excursions up into the breathtaking peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. In the Logarska Dolina, the views are plentiful, the nature is rich and the possibilities are endless.

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

March 28, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb

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Luxury was the first word that came to mind as I walked into Esplanade Hotel Zagreb. From the breath-taking columns that held up the hotel to the old-school elegant exterior to the art décor lobby, I knew that my visit was going to be a great one. This luxurious hotel definitely lived up to all the hype.

First Impressions
I was excited to check-in and get to my room.  First, we got a really warm welcome from the bellboys that took care of my car and luggage. Then the front desk clerk made the whole process quick and easy, all with a smile on her face. Overall, the check-in process was top-notch with superior customer service.

Room
Entering the room I was in awe. I had stayed in many hotels, and this was by far one of the most stunning room that I’d been in. The décor was beautiful and quite unique. Not to mention, the room was huge. Even the bathroom was quite spacious and luxurious with its marble, high-end toiletries, and super soft robe. The view of the city was pretty amazing, too. I was impressed by the complimentary Internet, welcome gifts, chocolate and teas and the post cards.

 

Breakfast
Zinfandel’s Restaurant – Breakfast was really impressive. The selection is magnificent, everything is fresh and prepared using only the best produce. The breakfast room has a lively and buzzing atmosphere. The service was impeccable as my waiter was very attentive.

Spa
I enjoyed my visit to the spa where I had a very relaxing massage and they have a great Gym with state of the art fitness equipment

Amenities
The hotel had quite a few amenities that I did not get a chance to use on this visit, but would love to try them in the future. There was Oleander Terrace and Esplanade 1925 Lounge and Cocktail Bar. 

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at Esplanade Zagreb and would recommend the hotel to anyone planning to visit Croatia. The historic building, the gracious accommodations, the award-winning food, the personalized service, the centralized location, and so much more all make it the most prestigious hotel in Zagreb.

This post has been partially sponsored I did get media rates during my stay at Esplanade Hotel. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

January 4, 2016 at 11:13 am

Posted in Travel

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Christmas in Zagreb – Croatia

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Advent in Zagreb 

Zagreb, the Croatian capital, is beautiful year-round, but during the Advent it looks its best. Christmas trees, lights, decorations, delicious foods and beverages, along with joyful holiday goodness made Zagreb one of the best Christmas destinations in 2015 and due to the festive and welcoming atmosphere, it was also named Best Christmas Market 2015. Along with the festive, holiday mood, there are many activities that bring the Christmas spirit to Zagreb.

Advent on the Main Square

Surprise and suspense fill the air as the Advent calendar comes to life in Zagreb’s main square. Visitors enjoy the holiday spirit and take part in festive events including readings, concerts, lectures, workshops, performances, exhibitions, and light installations.

Advent on Zrinjevac

The city’s old music pavilion welcomes visitors to dance, sing, eat, shop, and enjoy their time amongst the cheerful decorations and jovial atmosphere. Talented artists make their beautiful, unique ornaments and souvenirs available. Hungry visitor can choose from many delicious Zagreb specialties, including fried apples, cabbage clothes, baked štrukle, as well as mulled wine and hot chocolate. Music fills the air, too. Waltzes, Christmas classics, and other musical treats are enjoyed by all.

 

Ban Josip Jelačić Square

Situated at the city’s main square, the open air stage hosts many unique festivities, including concerts, children’s performances, and cultural and art events.

Christmas Fair

Surrounding Jelačić Square, Zagreb’s artists and craftsmen offer traditional Croatian products. Shoppers are able to choose from colorful decorations, gingerbread hearts, cookies, jewelry, souvenirs, and a plethora of seasonal gifts.

Ice Park

Just like a Christmas fairy tale, the ice skating rink is home to skating, delicious foods and beverages, and joyful music events.

The Advent in Zagreb is a special event that is not to be missed. Join in as visitors stroll the city streets and sing, dance, eat, shop, and enjoy the festive entertainment in Croatia’s capital city.

Not to be Missed

  • A glass of Medica will put you in a good mood straight away.  Its Rakija made out of honey and spiced with propolis. Medica is a devil in disguise. It’s sweet, flows smoothly, and once you get going you don’t really stop until it’s too late. It has a certain jet lag effect as it can kick you long after you had your last one. 
  • Fritule  are aromatic bite-sized dough balls, flavoured with lemon and orange zest, grape brandy  and/or dark rum, and sprinkled with icing sugar or covered with chocolate. Like almost any home will have its bowl, there is probably no housewife, especially among older women, that doesn’t have her own recipe, the best in the world!

 

This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

January 3, 2016 at 9:06 am

Posted in My Job, Travel

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A visit to the city of Zagreb

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A trip to Zagreb can be life-changing. It provides one of the very best opportunities to experience the Croatian lifestyle. This city offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor things to do. You could spend your afternoon walking along the beautiful cobblestones of St. Marks or spend some time at an apothecary shop that dates to 1355. Yet much of the city is quite modernized, offering all of the finer things that people enjoy.

What You’ll Enjoy in Zagreb

The architecture and the rich history of Zagreb are what dominate the landscape. It is these features that many people come to see especially the 1,000-year old Gornji grad where the Presidential Palace is and the post-World War II Novi Zagreb area which is a much more modern space. Aside from the architecture, you’ll find this city has more museums per square foot that virtually any other city. For those that love history, it is a treasure trove of opportunities.

Key sights to see in Zagreb include:

  • The Zagreb Cathedral with its twin neo-Gothic spires dominate the square. You’ll find the tomb of Cardinal Stepinac here.
  • The Dolac Market is the largest and most colorful of all in the area. Enjoy some of the local food here.
  • Kamenita vrata or the Stone Gate in upper town is a beautiful 13th century gate with a significant amount of history dating to 1731.
  • The Funicular railway is below the Lotscak Tower. It takes to 1888 and is the oldest form of public transport in the city, which at the time was a horse-drawn tram. You can take a ride along the railway and see much of the city up close.
  • Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters and the Museum of Naive Art is an ideal choice for those who want a dazzling display of artifacts.

When visiting Zagreb, you’ll find the area is full of culture. Step back two centuries to the many towers and buildings here or enjoy both the traditional and more contemporary meals prepared here at local cafes.

Take the path less traveled by tourists by visiting Maksimir Park and Lake Jarun. You can also visit the nearby towns of Varazdin and Samobor. With numerous restaurants, local coffee shops, various entertainment venues, and dozens of stalls and shops, this is an ideal place to visit if you want a bit of history on the city as well as the region. It virtually comes to life with every cobblestone step you take.

Where to Stay

I stayed at Esplanade Hotel the most luxurious hotel of Zagreb and super Central, see my next post.

There are a lot of rental apartments that simply look fabulous and are really great value for money

Where to Eat

If you are passionate about Strukly…then there is only one place …La Struk. Superb strukly are freshly served all day. If you are going in winter the place is quite small…..but they are really worth the wait!

  • La Štruk
  • Skalinska 5, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
  • Tel 38514837701

 

This post has been partially sponsored I did get media rates during my stay at Esplanade Hotel . For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

January 2, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Metelkova City in Ljubljana

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Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a quirky city. This is just one of the many reasons why I like it so much and I love spending time here. Ljubljana combines the European riverside café culture with a strange, edgy, grungy vibe. It is calm and pretty, luxurious, friendly and clean but for sure it is not a sleepy city as for example…..cannot say more…….:-)

Metelkova City the full name in Slovene I think is  Avtonomni kulturni center Metelkova Mesto, is an autonomous social centre in the centre of Ljubljana, Slovenia. It is located on the site of former military barracks, the Slovenian headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army, and was squatted September 1993.

The site consists of seven buildings and is 12,500 m² in area. The squat is named after nearby Metelko Street (Slovene: Metelkova ulica), which is named after the 19th-century Slovenian Roman Catholic priest, philologist, and unsuccessful language reformer Fran Metelko. Originally they used to siphon the water illegally but today Metelkova is legally connected to the city’s water system and power grid. Today Metelkova city is made up of bars. clubs, art galleries, design studios and related activities. It hosts a range of alternative music gigs including punk, metal, techno, etc.

One thing you’ll notice about Ljubljana is that almost anywhere you walk outside the old town area, you’ll see lots of graffiti. Nice ones, about everything and anything! But head to Metelkova City and it will seem like you’ve arrived at Graffiti Central. If you like graffiti, weird art, and quirky sculptures then this is the place to head to. It’s only a few minute’s walk from the train station

Metelkova Mesto

 

All opinions are my own. This post has not been sponsored and I did not get media samples or freebies. For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.

Written by msecchi

December 11, 2015 at 8:38 am