Places to Go


Our first full day of being “on European time” involved a visit to the closest town to exchange money, get groceries and see how much/little has changed since our last visit.  A short drive west from Matterada – about seven kilometres – brings us to Umago.  This little town, set on the Adriatic sea, has antique buildings and winding streets but is not filled with the same tourists found in bigger, more famous towns to the south.  This gives it an open, homey feeling that lends itself to wandering…



The campanile – Our Lady of the Ascension – rises up over the town square…


This is one of my favourite landmarks, and launches our family scavenger hunt for the rest of the trip:  winged lions and giant anchors are at the top of my “must be photographed” list – we had so much fun searching for them (and a few other things that came up along the way!)


The winged lion is the symbol of Venice, and can be found throughout Istrian coast towns as they were so important during the jurisdiction of the Venetian Republic.  I love them and hunt for them fondly on every trip.  This time, during a conversation with a vendor in Venice, I learned the significance of the symbolic lion: if he is holding a book it was dedicated during peaceful times, and if he is holding a sword it was dedicated during war times.  If the lion has both it represents a balanced political climate…


The anchor is another favourite for different reasons: I have always lived near the ocean and my grandfather was a fisherman…  The anchor for me is a symbol of family, of constance, of faith and fidelity…  it connects me to the ocean and to my history in a concrete way and I love to find them on my travels.  This time we found quite a few!  Having a scavenger hunt on the go makes traveling with children fun, and finding the objects in question is amazingly fast when children are focused on their task!


This time the doors of the church were open for our visit and we had a chance to look inside at the Baroque interior.











Another scavenger hunt item: the sixth station of the cross (my personal favourite and the one that inspired my choice of name for confirmation) representing a pure and selfless gesture, a kind act: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus on his journey.  Every time I see it I have reason to reflect…


The streets wind away from the church with an assortment of buildings – apartments, restaurants, stores…




(Nonno Bepi’s store!  Notice it has not Italian, not Croatian but Istrian cuisine…)





…but what my children love to see most of all is a park to play in…






…finding gelato (first one of our European holiday!)…


…and the absolute best thing of all – a beach!…








…to watch the waves, dig in the sand, find shells and rocks…  until tomorrow when we open the next door of our journey!



3 thoughts on “Umago…

    • Love this article – I have just finished Christopher Moore’s book The Serpent of Venice and the writing style was similar – funny! Thank you for sharing – this I my favourite kind of history. I don’t think I will be able to track down the Venetian vendor to debate it with him! I have a thousand photos from Venice to share – I hope you stop by to see them too… It is my favourite city in the world.


    • I have read your entire article and thought it was wonderful! Once I get to the Venice section of my posts I will include a link. I have loved the Venetian lions since my Istrian born father-in-law introduced them to me, and I have searched for them ever since. I am thrilled to discover so much more about their story! When I have time I am going to comb through all my photos to see which ones I have taken pictures of over my various trips. (I am not a history aficionado, just a teacher from Canada, but I thought your writing was very good. Some people who have learned English as their first language do not do as well…Thank you again for sharing!)


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