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Novi Vinodolski

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This ancient town lies at the southern end of the Vinodol valley – literally “Wine Valley” – a fertile rural area dotted with fortified settlements founded in prehistoric times, protecting the coastal strip from barbarian invasion. The towns of Drivenik, Grižane and Bribir which lie along the valley were once important centres during feudal times, and all have incredible castles. If you drive, bike or hike through the Wine Valley, you’ll be well rewarded.

You can see Novi Vinodolski’s spindly bell tower crowning the hilltop from miles around. Wandering through the tight and sometimes dank muddle of streets, you feel how it must have been to shelter from the harsh north winds and the marauders that threatened from inland. The bell tower belongs to the Parish Church of St Philip and Jacob –a country-style church with a lovely square where you can look out over the islands. The town was protected by a Frankopan fortress, where the Vinodol code was written – an important legal document protecting the rights of commoners from feudal lords, written in the Glagolitic script and dating back to 1288. Though it has charm, Novi could do with a bit of sprucing up, but the rather special people compensate for this. Somewhat coarse, but definitely spirited, they’re the type you can have a good drink and a good laugh with – maybe that’s why Vinodol’s summer carnival is so popular. Novi is a simple place, ideal if you don’t like commercialised resorts.

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