With Venice safely tucked away as an appetizer, we turned to the main course of our trip: Croatia and the Adriatic coast. Traversing the northern edge of the sea, we enjoyed a brief but promising Slovenian intermezzo (after all, how many freeway truck stops serve an outstanding tagliatelli with truffle sauce?), then crossed the border into Croatia.
This was truly a sign of the times -- prepared for unveiling, no doubt, on July 1, when Croatia would make it's long-anticipated ascension to full membership in the European Union.
Our first destination was Rovinj, a venerable port town on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia.
Rovinj was an appropriate segue from Venice in many ways. Istria was the source of much of the timber and marble from which Venice was so improbably constructed.
Rovinj was also a Venetian possession for centuries, until the fall of the Venetian Empire left it in Austrian hands.
For a few centuries, possession of Istria gave Austria a fingerhold on the Adriatic.
After the Hapsburg Empire collapsed in 1918, Istria was annexed by Italy....
... and then snared by Tito's Yugoslavia after Mussolini's fall at the end of World War II.
Finally, Rovinj and Istria ended up in an independent Croatia -- which was within days of tying the knot with the European Union, for better or worse.
You can only imagine how many languages they need on their restaurant menus.