Recently we spent 2 weeks renting an amazing apartment in Piran, over-looking Tartini Square. For anyone who has never been to Piran, Slovenia, I’d highly recommend the trip. Two weeks is a luxury, but one week is time well-spent to enjoy this Adriatic gem. The few hours or one day that many tours offer is not enough. Like “old town” Ljubljana, Piran is traffic-free which gives you the luxury of no automobiles, buses, motorbikes -- in other words, no noise pollution. There is parking outside the town not far from the bus station, a short 10-minute walk to Piran’s center. “Gratis” local buses stop directly outside of Tartini Square to pick up travelers going shorter distances. Other buses take riders to other seaside communities such as Portoroz,Koper and Isola. Facing the waterfront, there is a smattering of souvenir shops but mostly stores dealing with clothing, shoes, jewelry, and a few art galleries and museums as well.
Once inside Tartini Square, you are faced with one of THE most harmonious squares I’ve ever seen: baroque colonnaded buildings share the same sweep with Venetian-style mansions, all beautifully painted in soft reds, yellows, and greens. Near the middle of the square is a statue to Piran’s favorite son, Giuseppe Tartini, the famous Italian violinist. In one sweep of the square a series of café/restaurants welcome you; on the other, the town hall, an old court house, a Modern Art Museum, The Venetian House and Tartini’s House which you can tour to view Tartini’s musical scores, books, one of his violins, and even his death mask. A congenial and knowledgeable guide, Bruno, took us through Tartini’s history as well as that of Piran’s. He had no problems fielding any of our questions both musical and historical, and his excellent command of English was an added plus. Inside the Town Hall is a beautiful painting by Tintoretto which can be privately viewed by requesting an appointment through the guard upon entering the building. Once leaving the square you have several options to experience one of those “knock your socks off” views of the town. Above the town, make your way to either the ramparts (the remains of the town’s walls which you can climb for a 1 Euro fee) or the tower of St. Giorgio’s (here there is no elevator, but it’s well worth the climb). If you can do both, you’ll be rewarded by different views of Piran, but both are knockouts. I climbed both twice, once in morning and once in afternoon and for me, I preferred the experience of that 10:00 AM sun.
If climbing is not your thing, walking around town can be equally rewarding. The First of May Square, Trg 1 Maja, is more in the “heart” of Piran than Tartini is: location wise. After walking through several arched alleys, you’ll come into the tiny square adorned with elevated statues of Law and Justice. Facing the statues on your left is an exceptional eatery: Il Cantini, canopied by grape vines, offering a limited but delicious menu, particularly inexpensive seafood accompanied by French Fries -- It’s worth it just to get the French Fries. You order at the window, and they ring a bell when your order is ready. You then take it to a table, and savor not only the food but the quiet and beauty of this little jewel of a square. If you want a beverage, you go to the adjoining café Klet–and place your order. Odd? You bet, but as the adage goes, “When in Rome. . . .” Il Cantini was one of several excellent restaurants we found during our 2 weeks in Piran. Others included Pri Mari, Casa Nostromo, Ristorante Verdi, and Mario on Tartini Square just to name a few, and if you want what I consider the best ice cream in Piran, you must make a beeline to Karamela, right next to the bus stop. After sampling every Gelatoria in Piran, Karamela got my vote as serving up the richest, most delectable ice ceam.
Piran has an assortment of beaches, from concrete to rocks and pebbles (no sand). All are 5 minutes from the center of the town and offer opportunities to enjoy the sun and the glorious water of the Adriatic. There are other activities such as paddle boarding, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Shopping in Piran is also a treat. There’s even a trendy clothing store–Jack Jones–and an outstanding jewelry and crafts store–the Duka Gallery on Partizanska St which carries lovely handmade jewelry, earthenware and crafts. Another outstanding selection is to be had at Alora Market not far from the bus station, and in one street from the bay. The gallery features all Slovenian artists with art works ranging from fine leather goods to paintings, pottery and adorable handmade fairies. In the glorious Venetian House on Tartini Square is a shop carrying beautiful items (soap, oils, etc.) all relating to Piran’s most famous “industry,” the nearby salt flats which still produces some of the world’s finest table salt.
Come to Piran to enjoy the glories of this lovely Italianate community with a strong Slovenian flavor. Street signs are in both languages. Stay to savor the many smaller pleasures of a varied and “lived-in” red-roofed town.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.