This has been the trip of first times: first international drive, moreover by caravan, but also the first intended travel photo feature. We travelled with no plans, only a destination and few spots we identified as unmissable. All the rest was in the hands of the locals and their advice, and, generally, in those of the destiny. Mission: exploring.
When: August 2014
Photo by: Enrico and Matteo Fabi
Actually, just three of us left Bari. The first stop was Perugia, in the heart of Umbria, where Matteo landed from London. The pick-up was at noon, and, after brief greetings, all the emotions conveyed in our burning desire to set off. We arrived in Trieste, on the edge of Slovenia, by dinner time.
Wandering through the main square, mojitos in the hands, we bumped incredibly into Ugo and Linda, long time friends from Bari and passionate travelers as much as us. It was clearly the case to celebrate properly. We locked ourselves up in one of the most picturesque bars ever seen, “da Marino”. With Marino at the counter, of course.
The proper service of Marino left us a little bit worn out. But Enrico and Pier, with quintessential bravery, decided to drive straight to Slovenia by night. Excess of adrenaline, I suppose. Then, we fell asleep as babies, and woke up, alive, a little bit dry, in front of this view. The Predjama castle stands mighty amid a 123mt rock facade, since 800 years ago.
It might seem we rushed it, but on the same day, late afternoon, we headed directly to Croatia, in order to spend a night.. on an island. Krk is the biggest and the most inhabited island of the Adriatic sea, and one of the few connected to the mainland by a bridge. We found the coast quite overcrowded, so we headed to the inland, towards the Lička Plješivica mountain range.
Since 1979, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sixteen lakes. 16. One on top of each other, connected from cascades and gorges. And just forest all around.
Once in the park, we fell into a bucolic dream, and just kept on walking until dusk. It was forbidden to camp, spend the night in the forest and swim in the lakes, but at that point it was the only option. A night of countless stars and the relentless sound of the pounding waterfalls gave us a vibrant feeling of wild nature, a memory stuck for a long in our mind and souls.
We crossed the Bosnian border at Bihac, and travelling as usual by night, we stopped in the idyllic village of Jajice. Refuelled with a feast of farm cheese, ham and grilled trouts, we drove no-stop to our ultimate destination.
Sarajevo is a melting pot of cultures: Islam, Orthodoxy, Judaism and Catholicism have been coexisting here for centuries. The repercussion on the architecture in the old city is just fascinating. Bosnian are great craftsmen. The graveyards of the war during the 90s, even if candidly kissed by the sun, are the memento of a lesson which human beings seem to be hard to learn.
After our brief, intense stay in the capital, we moved to the Herzegovina region. “Mostar” comes from the old name of the inhabitants, mostari, which means “bridge keepers”.
The Stari Most (lit. Old Bridge) was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, and completed in 1567. Bombed during the Bosnian War in the 90s, has been rebuilt in 2004. It takes to the medieval hamlets of the town, where the loudspeakers of several minarets let the echoes of ancient chants resound, five times a day, all along the river, creating a strikingly mystical atmosphere.
On the way back from the Balcan trip we dropped part of the crew in Milan. Nevertheless, home was still far, and the time still enough. Thus, we headed to Tuscany for a last sip of culture. Here we visited Pisa, home of the famous Leaning Tower, which dominates the astonishing “Piazza dei Miracoli” (lit. Miracles’s Square).