Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Top Tourist Spots along the Adriatic

During  a  series of cruises along the  Adriatic  coast  I was struck by  the beauty and booming tourism in towns of  former  Yugoslavia,  previously part of the great Venetian marine empire in the 12-18th centuries. 

"living room" of Hvar-the main piazza 

just like Italy..... pizza break in lively Koper 
The  fortified ports of  Zadar, Koper, Dubrovnik, Kotor and  Hvar strung out along the  Adriatic  coast are now some of the hottest spots for  summer tourism.
 Each has its  unique  character, history and structure  but they also  share  lifestyles  and  traditions  similar to those found here, in  central Italy. For example,  the  use of the main piazza  as  the town’s  elegant living room for the  afternoon  passeggiata.  
artisans in Zadar  offer  their wares  on the street
costumed locals  in Koper/Capodistria

By studying  what our neighbors on the Adriatic are doing -and have done-  in the tourism field, we can  discover which mistakes to avoid  and which of their best practices to  follow. Here are some personal  observations and ideas  to help  increase tourism  while protecting   the  quality of life for  residents and visitors.  

shiny stone pavements of Zadar
I noticed  that public spaces in all these lively port towns  were decorated with  street furniture and  flowers and,  most importantly, there were  no graffiti   nor  rubbish  to  be seen.  This  pride in their  spotless  main piazzas  and  streets- such as  Dubrovnik’s  Stradun- is expected also from  visitors. 

The tourism industry  must  protect this quality of life which is  one of the area’s main attractions, a quality that  the Tuscia Viterbese  has  in common with these colorful  Adriatic ports.
Too much popularity and tourist hoards  can be a strain on ancient historic centers.  Hvar town, a very popular party destination for young British tourists, has had to impose  rules of conduct  and stiff  fines (up to 700 euro)  to control  unruly behavior .
enjoy your stay and obey the rules

On the positive side, thanks to the silent electric  vehicles used   for  rubbish pick up and  deliveries in the pedestrian zones  the only noise is  the hum of  human voices and  instrumental music being played  at  many a street corner. The piazzas of Dubrovnik ,  Koper  and Zadar  resound with classical music played by  street performers  and buskers  often dressed in local costume.  

musician  and salt shop, Koper
Whether  it is  a violinist, a   guitar trio  or  Mozart being  played on musical glasses, a crowd  of people and  a pleasant mood are  always created.
The  huge crowds of rock concerts  are relegated to stadiums outside the delicate historic  centers where amplifiers  would be  a danger and  unnecessary. 
 In the port of Zadar even the sea has been harnessed to make music with the  recently created  sea organ which  plays tunes using the  lapping  waves of the sea .
sea organ, Zadar port 

 This human scale   combined  with beautiful architecture  gives a  sense of peace and  wellbeing that immediately strikes visitors coming from  foreign cities.  This  slower pace and  quality of life  are valuable  elements which no longer exist in giant cities and  suburban sprawl but are still fortunately  alive and well in most  towns of central Italy. 

 What answers  can you give to these  questions about your  town?
Is the main public piazza and/or main street  still an  elegant  public space used for  socialization  or is it   clogged with cars, speeding motorini  or  used primarily for parking?
Are the ancient, medieval and   Renaissance architectural gems  of the  historic   center given pride of place? 
tower in Zadar similar to those of Viterbo 
Are there green areas  and  parks  close to the historic center which are well cared for and used by the residents and visitors?   
SYA  students relax in Valle Faul, Viterbo 

Instead of the  Venetian lion seen  in all the Adriatic  ports, the  area of Tuscia boasts  other symbols on  palaces and castles:  Viterbo’s   lion and palm, the   heraldic  crests  that remind us of past Papal domination  and the local noble families -Farnese, Odescalchi, Monaldeschi -who once ruled the area.  
The construction materials   also differ: our local buildings are constructed of  grey  tufa and peperino  and we walk on cobblestone streets  instead of shiny  Istrian stone. 
Although less spectacular  than the majestic  city walls  surrounding  Dubrovnik and Kotor  those  of Viterbo, Tarquinia  and other local fortified  towns  have  yet to be given the attention they deserve .  

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