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September 10, 2017 - Sečovlje

We began this morning with an early visit to the Natural Reserve of Secovlje,

one of the most important wetlands of Europe. The Sečovlje salt flats are the

northernmost salt flats in the Mediterranean and part of a complex ecosystem.

The salt is produced in the traditional way based on a

700-year-old method that harmonizes man and nature.

Then we visited a 12th century church with fabulous frescoes and finished

with  a boat trip to the town of Piran. There were on and off showers

but most of the time we lucked out and stayed dry.

                   

ABOVE LEFT and MIDDLE- Salt pans at the Secovlje Salina Nature Park. Harvesting

of salt here began in the Middle Ages.and they still use the same manual technique

(700 years). There is a series of wood-framed salt pans connected by canals.

The salt for this year has already been harvested. A large area of the salt pans is no

longer used and is now a nature park that is home to many species of birds and plants.

ABOVE RIGHT - Exterior of the 12th - 14th century Holy Trinity Church near the town of Hrastovlje.

The Romanesque Church has been preserved since the 12th century because it

was surrounded by protective walls built by invading Turks, who used it as a camp.

                   

ABOVE - We visited the small fortified church of the Holy Trinity in Hrastovlje. This

church hosts a very special cycle of frescoes representing the “Dance of Death,"

where a large number of local characters are led into the afterlife by dancing skeletons.

BELOW - The characters may be rich or poor, handsome or ugly, but no matter

what they do, they will all die, so therefore they should behave well today in order

to escape damnation in the afterlife. These paintings are arguably the most important

and best preserved in Slovenia and they give us a vivid idea about the way

people thought about life and death 600 years ago.

                   

ABOVE LEFT - The frescoes were painted by Istrian painter Janez Kastva at the end of the

15th century. They were painted in simple stories so that paupers could understand them.

ABOVE MIDDLE - A section of the Dance of the Macabre frescoe which lines most of one

wall. It depicts Death leading the pope, king, nobles, citizens and beggars by the hand.

wine pour                    

ABOVE - We had another fabulous lunch at an agriturismo in the countryside.

It was owned and run by three generations of family who make their own wine.

We ended our meal with a sample of their blueberry liqueur.

               

ABOVE - In the afternoon we traveled by boat from Portorož to Piran, a lovely coastal

village that is enchanted with a Venetian vibe. Most likely founded by Celts, it was part

of the Venetian Republic from the 1200s until the end of the 1700s. After a short

Austrian dominion, it was Italian again up to 1954. At that time the area became part of

Yugoslavia and most of its population went to Italy. With Slovenia’s independence,

great efforts were made not to lose this area’s Venetian and Italian culture.

                   

ABOVE LEFT - We climbed the 146 rickety steps to the top of the Bell Tower for the

best views in Piran. This is looking down on the harbor and Tartini Square

(named for a famous composer and violinist)

ABOVE MIDDLE - Another view of rooftops and the castle on the hill in the

background from the Bell Tower. From this tower you can see

three countries: Croatia, Slovenia and Italy .

ABOVE RIGHT - We ended our evening in Piran in a cafe enjoying drinks in the square

as the lights came on in surrounding buildings.

         

ABOVE LEFT - Lighted Bell Tower and buildings around Tartini Square - taken at 7:30pm

ABOVE RIGHT - Last view of the lighted square - 8:15pm. Good-bye Piran!