Powdered wigs and sunsets

Poreč, a lovely town Istrian coast of Croatia is a great spot for festivals. If you’re into electronic music, it’s the place to be. MTV Summerblast is high on the calendar for enthusiasts. There’s the Open Air festival of life with its offshore tuna fishing challenge. And Rise up Poreč, another music festival. The day we were there, we tripped across the historic festival, Giostra. Perhaps it was the weather – a balmy summer’s evening. Or maybe it was the medieval waterfront setting? Or even the glorious sunset. But to see people walking the streets in their crinoline dresses, powdered wigs, and ruffled shirts was quite surreal.

Kids were dressed as drummer boys and young ladies in waiting. The peasantry walked alongside the lords and ladies, and whole families were decked out in style. Period musicians led the way with jugglers and court jesters doing their bit to entertain the gawking masses. The long line of finery wound its way through the town square and then back down to the harbour where a makeshift amphitheatre lent seating to the masses. What followed was a 90-minute show of period drama, music, and dancing, complete with some dancing horses from Zagreb, something so impressive that it prompted me to add seeing the Lippizzaner Stallions dance the white horse ballet in the Spanish Riding School in Vienna to my bucket list. The players came from all over Croatia with some travelling from Italy, too. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

It was all rather lovely, with the evening’s entertainment ending in a rather nifty fireworks display.

Back up in the main square, the stalls were out and the locals were selling their wares. Lots of blown glass on display alongside local wines and meades, pastries and meats. The dunking booth was getting a fair whack with a line of Asian tourists waiting impatiently to try their hand at dunking the village fool.

The town has an impressive food offer with plenty of cafés and restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes and inclinations. Wandering the back streets, we happened across three bunched together and himself made a beeline for the middle one. The chairs, he said, were more inviting. Whatever the reason, we struck lucky. We only wanted to sample some of the local wine but the brothers, with their inimitable charm and excellent table-side manner said they’d knock together a couple of plates of local hams and cheeses. They really get customer service in this part of the world. They kept up the banter as they passed the table, deftly handling the newcomers while attending to those who’d been sat awhile. It was their first season. Their dad, they said, didn’t do social media. No Facebook. No wifi. No website. No advertising at all really – just word of mouth. The food was excellent, the olive oil the best I would taste in the few days we were in country, and the wines weren’t bad either. If you’re in the vicinity, it’s a restaurant well worth checking out. Tradizione, Ul. Bože Milanovića, 52440, Poreč, Croatia.

And oops, I nearly forgot the sunset.