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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page added in February 2015.

- Rovigno (Rovinj)
(Longobard weapons at Museo Archeologico di Cividale)

You may wish to read an introduction to this section first.

S. Eufemia (main church of Rovigno): (left) ancient sarcophagus assumed to contain the relics of the St. Euphemia; (right) 1883 fresco by Leonardo Riga showing the sarcophagus being carried into the town

A Roman settlement known as Arupinum or Ruginium is recorded as a vicus, a village, of Pola. It attracted refugees from inland locations when the region was invaded by the Avars and the Slavs, because it was situated on an islet. The only memory of the Roman past of Rovigno is a roughly cut sarcophagus which according to tradition washed ashore in 800 with the relics of St. Euphemia of Chalcedon, a IVth century martyr. The Greek Orthodox Church maintains that the relics are in the Church of St. George, inside the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

(left) SS. TrinitÓ; (right) Crucifixion in one of its windows

This small heptagonal building, which eventually was utilized as a baptistery, is dated ca VIIIth century and it stands outside the town walls near the site of the bridge which linked Rovigno to the mainland. After the Roman period the town was first recorded in a chronicle of 804.

S. Eufemia: (left) fašade (completed in 1861); (centre) main altar; (right) reliefs which decorated the old church

The only place of any consequence on the coast between Pola and Parenzo is Rovigno, a flourishing town occupying a lofty peninsula between two harbours. A large modern church with a campanile crowns the summit of the pyramidal hill, the sides of which are covered by the houses of the town. The general view from the sea is extremely picturesque, but Rovigno contains nothing to make it worth while to go ashore. The church (..) is spacious and handsome, but quite uninteresting, and the town itself is devoid of any architectural remains in its narrow and tortuous streets, though here and there the Lion of St. Mark has survived.
Sir Thomas Graham Jackson - Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria - 1887
Notwithstanding the relics of St. Euphemia, Rovigno was not a bishopric see and during the Middle Ages this meant a second class status for the town.

S. Eufemia: bell tower and details of the rotating statue of St. Euphemia, which acts as a weathervane. The wheel refers to a torture endured by Euphemia (you may wish to see a page on Torture and Death in the Churches of Rome)

The bell tower was completed in 1758 when a gigantic bronze statue of St. Euphemia was placed at its top. It is similar to those existing at Grado and other towns belonging to the Republic of Venice. Unlike nearby Parenzo, Rovigno did not experience a decrease in population because of pestilences in the XVIIth century and in 1763 the channel which separated the islet from the mainland was filled in order to enlarge the town.

Venetian bell towers at Buie/Buje (2), Verteneglio/Brtonigla and Valle/Bale

The towns of Istria competed for having the tallest and finest bell towers which all resemble those of Venice, such as that of S. Giorgio Maggiore. They provided useful reference points for seamen, in particular those of Buie which is situated at the top of a hill with a commanding view.

(left) Arco dei Balbi; (centre) Town Hall; (right-above) head of an Ottoman soldier on the gate; (right-below) Winged Lion at the Town Hall. The image used as background for this page shows another detail of the arch: the head of a Venetian soldier

In the XIIIth century Rovigno sought the protection of Venice and it remained a possession of la Serenissima (the Most Serene Republic) until 1797. During the War of Chioggia (1378-81) it was sacked by the Genoese who took away the relics of St. Euphemia. These were recovered by the Venetians who however were reluctant to return them to Rovigno. They eventually did in 1401 after a series of petitions from the inhabitants of the small town. Arco dei Balbi was built in 1680 and modified a century later. It celebrated an enlargement of Rovigno.

Paved streets and in the right lower corner an ancient stone with a betting game similar to one carved at Jerusalem

The streets of the oldest part of Rovigno which have not been modified to adapt them to modern requirements resemble those one can see at Pola and Trieste.

(left) Palazzo Costantini; (centre/right) other old buildings and details of their decoration

The Costantini were one of the wealthiest families of Rovigno and local chronicles cite them as benefactors. In 1764 a member of the family donated a building and sixteen tombs to a brotherhood. However they did not hesitate to pursue their rights: a litigation between them and the Town of Rovigno which concerned the construction of a bakery went on from 1707 to 1793.


Small balconies are a typical feature of Venetian architecture which can be observed in many buildings of Rovigno. Overall most of the town seems to have been built in the XVIIIth century. Two Provveditori alle Strade, magistrates in charge of controlling the development of the town and improving its streets, were appointed in 1717.

View from the end of the islet where some evidence of the fortifications built to protect the town can still be noticed

Move to:
Introductory page
Roman Aquileia - Main Monuments
Roman Aquileia - Tombs and Mosaics
Early Christian Aquileia
Medieval Aquileia
Chioggia: Living on the Lagoon
Chioggia: Churches
Chioggia: Other Monuments
Roman and Medieval Cividale del Friuli
Venetian Cividale del Friuli
Roman and Byzantine Parenzo (Porec)
Medieval and Venetian Parenzo (Porec)
Roman Pola (Pula)
Medieval and Venetian Pola (Pula): Churches
Medieval and Venetian Pola (Pula): Other Monuments
Roman Ravenna
Ostrogothic Ravenna
Byzantine Ravenna: S. Apollinare in Classe
Byzantine Ravenna: S. Vitale
Byzantine Ravenna: Other Monuments
Medieval Ravenna
Venetian and Papal Ravenna: Walls and Gates
Venetian and Papal Ravenna: Churches
Venetian and Papal Ravenna: Other Monuments
Roman and Medieval Trieste
Modern Trieste

SEE THESE OTHER EXHIBITIONS (for a full list see my detailed index).