03 June, 2013

Searching for Roark - my visit to Hotel San Rocco,Vertiniglio, Istria, Croatia

Tullio Fernetich
Searching for Roark was the title of an unfinished romance novel a friend of mine threatened to write. The premise was... well, it was a romance novel so you can pretty much guess the rest. Except that she had an interesting voice and the character of Roark was well developed enough that we all started searching for him as a romantic ideal. He was a guy worth wearing a kirtle for. I hadn't thought of Roark in years, until I visited the Hotel San Rocco in Istria. Lovely stone everywhere, fabulous hospitality and history baked into the walls, the Hotel San Rocco is a wonderful place to stay while you are looking for a hero.

Our hero during our visit was Tullio Fernetich who restored an old family property. Tullio brings a sense of history to his elegant hotel and sees it as
 continuing, and sharing, his family tradition, as well as positioning the place to continue as his children take up the reins. You will not find better more comfortable accommodations or more warmth and charm. Every time we turned around we were offered rich, fragrant espresso, hot and bitter.

We first turned up late at night with our small herd of clattering wheelie bags and giggles that were less than discreet having partaken extensively of the wine at Batelina. No matter. We were greeted and attended to immediately. Once escorted to my room, I marvelled at the comfortable furnishings, the quiet and stone walls. I covet those old stones, having always lived in Northern California where nothing is that old and seismic activity the norm. These particular walls telegraphed a sense of history. The town of Brtonigla is built on the ruins of an ancient fortress. It is mentioned as an important wine making region as far back as 1234. That's history!

From the staff, I got a sense of wonderful hospitality. Since so many spoke German, I would venture "gemuetlichkeit", that perfect word for comfort and ease. Especially the wonderful server who only smiled as we cobbled our orders from our American scraps of French, Italian and German , and got exactly the right caffeine for each intrepid explorer. Our busy itinerary did not let us do more than investigate the Wellness/Spa. Treatments include materials collected from the award winning Olive Oil production and the space is one where rejuvenation seems possible. Definitely a reason to go back.

After an active day of Istrian exploration, we returned to experience a delicious immersion in Istrian cuisine at the San Rocco Restaurant. Specialities change daily, but use freshly caught local fish, seasonal local ingredients like wild asparagus, and truffles. Wonderful Istrian truffles.  Of course, accompanied by perfectly matched local wines. More than 200 are available and at the disposal of the expertly trained staff.  It wins prizes every year and is a member of the Jeunes Restorateurs d' Europe thanks to the efforts of Fernetich son, Teo.

The Hotel consists of 13 rooms with doubles and the Cavalier suite, which is an amazing space
on two levels with over 50 meters of privacy and luxury, not to mention a fabulous view over the olive groves to the sea. All the rooms are lovely and incorporate details in wood, stone and wrought iron to evoke local tradition. It has won best boutique hotel every year since 2007.

It's a wonderful place to check out in your search for true and perfect love, and an even better place to celebrate if you have already located that.   

Roark, if you're reading, see you at the San Rocco!

Many thanks to the Istrian Tourist Board for selecting this wonderful property and hosting our visit.

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