Ten kilometres beyond Vodnjan, BALE (Valle) occupies a hilltop site typical of the peninsula, with houses built in a defensive circle. Smaller and more deserted than Vodnjan, it's a good example of a town abandoned by its Italian population after 1945 and never properly lived in since. The most arresting edifice here is the Soardo-Bembo Palace, a fifteenth-century Venetian Gothic building with an elegant balcony built into its towered facade. It's currently being restored and will probably house a local history museum in future. Beside the palace, an arch topped by a clumsily rendered Venetian lion leads through into the core of the old town, which really amounts to a circular alleyway spanned by little arches, with rough stone buildings on either side. Follow this round in either direction to reach St Elizabeth's Church (Crkva svete Elizabete) in the central square, a largely nineteenth-century neoBaroque building, although it preserves a Romanesque campanile and fragments from earlier sixth- and eighth-century churches in the crypt. Just outside the old town beside the road to Rovinj, the smaller, simpler, fifteenth-century Church of the Holy Spirit (Crkva svetog Duha) contains late Gothic frescoes and is sporadically open as a gallery in the summer months. Pula–Rovinj buses stop on the main road just below the entrance to the old town, Trg palih boraca, where there's a small seasonal tourist office. Kamen Price, just above the Soardo-Bembo palace at Kakel 57 offers bed and breakfast in an atmospheric old stone house, although there are only three rooms, so ring well in advance. About a kilometre northwest of town, just off the Rovinj road and worth a stop, the Sweet Bar cafe is renowned for its excellent home-made cakes and biscuits.
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