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Rovinj, Croatia

On the Istrian peninsula of Croatia’s northern Adriatic coast, tiny, red-tiled Rovinj is perched on a domed headland now attached to the mainland. The town’s narrow, cobbled streets spiral up to the Church of St. Euphemia, whose Venetian-style campanile crowns the community. The outer, sea-level rim is lined with high-quality restaurants, and the warren of alleys open into unexpectedly to pleasant plazas with open-air cafes. Virtually the whole town is constructed of skillfully carved regional stone, and 14th Century houses have been converted to galleries and boutiques. A thriving, colorful farmers market fronts the harbor, and the marina bristles with the masts of yachts. Nearby are medieval hill-towns as enchanting as any in Tuscany, surrounded by prosperous-looking farms and vineyards. The achingly blue Adriatic beckons at nearby beaches and rocky swimming coves. Istria is distinctly Italian in character.