Southwest of Pazin, the main road and rail routes to Pula forge across a mixed landscape of woodland, cornfields and Mediterranean scrub. While you're unlikely to want to spend the night in any of the places along the way, a couple of them merit a stop-off.

Twenty kilometres out of Pazin, the frumpy town of KANFANAR was founded in the mid-seventeenth century by refugees from nearby DVIGRAD, a walled city suddenly abandoned by citizens demoralized by an outbreak of plague and raids by Uskok pirates. A cluster of moody grey ruins surrounded by farmland and forest, Dvigrad is nowadays a hugely evocative site, and well worth embarking on a half-day trip to see. It's reasonably easy to get to, with Pula-Pazin trains, as well as buses from Rovinj to 2nunjg and Pazin, all stopping off in Kanfanar. Head west out of town along the Rovinj road, and turn right onto a well-signed minor road which leads downhill to the ruins (a three-kilometre walk in total). Despite its ruined state Dvigrad is immediately impressive, a huge crown of jagged grey battlements guarded by two massive towers. A path curls round one side of the battlements, passes through a ruined gate and leads into the city, its rough paving stones now overgrown with weeds. At its northern end looms the shell of the Church of St Sofia (Crkva svete Sofije), a twelfth-century basilica. The road on the western side of the fortress zigzags up the hillside, affording impressive views back towards the grizzled ruins.

Five kilometres southeast of Kanfanar, the tiny town of SVETVINČENAT (known in local dialect as "Savicenta") lies just off the main Pula-bound road and rail routes, but is well worth a detour if you're a fan of well-proportioned Mediterranean town squares. Svetvin6enat's is certainly among the most attractive in Istria, watched over by the trefoil facade of the Church of the Assumption (Crkva uznesenja), which harbours several mannerist altar paintings by sixteenth-century Venetians. Off to the left, the castle of the Grimani family sports a pair of grizzled-looking towers; unfortunately it can't be visited unless you attend one of the summer concerts held in its spacious courtyard. A fifteenth-century town hall and loggia complete the ensemble. -Specializing in Cheap Flights F