Monty Don’s Adriatic Gardens Explores Venetian Influence on Horticulture

The Adriatic is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea nestled between the Italian and Balkan peninsulas. From sun-soaked beaches with crystal clear blue waters to charming medieval towns and island gems, one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular works of art. Enchanting sea lovers for centuries, visitors can look forward to awe-inspiring views, strolling magnificent waterfront promenades with forested hills on one side and the Adriatic on the other, as well as island hope between the over 1,000 islands along the Croatian coast.  

The Adriatic Sea was named after the ancient port of Adria, located in what is now northern Italy, renowned for its warm temperatures and calm currents that are ideal for sailing, swimming, snorkelling, and diving. In typical Mediterranean fashion, summer is idyllic, with warm temperatures and frequent bright blue skies.

Monty Don, gardener and broadcaster known for spotlighting gardens across Europe, travels through the region in his latest series to discover the influence of the Venetians on horticulture. Many hidden treasures are revealed, starting from Venice and heading to the city of Trieste close to the Italy/Croatia border, down the Croatian coast, and into Greece. In Trieste, he brings viewers to visit a public garden created over 150 years ago by an obsessed royal plantsman. Travelling down the Adriatic coast through Croatia, he follows the very same trail the Venetians followed. As he makes his way to the picturesque island of Lopud near Dubrovnik, he reveals sparkling lakes, colourful wildflowers, a nursery with more than 200 different iris varieties (Croatia’s national flower), and ancient olive groves. Viewers also get a sneak peek at one of just two monastic gardens in all of Croatia.

This show is sure to inspire your next trip – to marvel at the beauty you’ve seen on screen in person, be sure to put these top spots on your list.

Trieste, Italy

Trieste, Italy

The ancient city of Trieste has been inhabited since at least the second millennium BC. It became a major trading hub after joining the Roman republic in the 2nd century BC, located near the borders of Slovenia and Croatia at a crossroads of cultures. It’s famous for its coffee and provides a refuge for artists with picturesque tree-lined parks, wide avenues, and a vibrant cultural scene. Learn more about Trieste’s rich past at one or more of its intriguing museums like the Civic Museum of History and Art which boasts an especially impressive Roman history collection. The Revoltella Museum of Modern Art is well worth a look with its rich works from the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Opatija, Croatia

Opatija, Croatia

Opatija is a world-famous seaside town on the Istria peninsula boasting a beautiful backdrop of the Učka Mountains. A crown jewel in a country spoiled with stunning beauty, the former 19th-century wellness resort is a place to immerse yourself in timeless elegance with magnificent mansions, monuments, enticing beaches, and pretty parks. The 7.4-mile-long Lungomare Promenade is a popular place for a walk, following the coast for breathtaking views of the grand historic villas and the Adriatic Sea. Along the way, one can stop to enjoy the over 150 plant species in Angiolina Park, watch the windsurfers tackle the waves in the Bay of Preluk, and capture a selfie in front of the landmark statue, The Girl with the Seagull.

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Pag Island, Croatia

Pag Island, Croatia

Pag is a rocky, barren island known for its moon-like landscape that offers a magnificent contrast against the cobalt blue of the sea that surrounds it. Its production of lace and cheese also draws attention, with quaint shops lining medieval streets in the town of Pag where local women can be seen stitching lace in the doorways. Pag cheese is some of the best in Croatia, produced from sheep’s milk, and can be found in markets throughout the country and beyond as one of the most celebrated culinary exports. You won’t want to miss the Pag lamb either, a spit-roasted local speciality, along with local wines and olive oil. 

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Sibenik, Croatia

Sibenik, Croatia

Established more than 1,000 years ago, ancient Sibenik was once a prosperous mercantile hub at the heart of the Adriatic salt trade. Its intriguing past can be seen within the city walls and in multiple historic landmarks like St. James Cathedral with its more than 70 sculpted faces of men, women, and children. The largest and most important gothic- and Renaissance-style cathedral in the region, you’ll see its glistening globe from many vantage points throughout the city. Fans of the hit series “Game of Thrones” will recognize it as the Iron Bank and the House of Black and White. Just across the square from the cathedral is the old Sibenik Town Hall with its large columns, balustrade, and arches providing a fine example of mid-16th-century Renaissance architecture.

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Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” is one of the most popular destinations in the entire country, with its walled old city looking as if it came from the pages of a storybook. While its fame has come in part due to its role in “Game of Thrones” as Kings Landing, its long-drawn visitors with an abundance of natural and manmade beauty. The pedestrianized historic centre is encircled by massive stone defence walls that stretch for 1.2 miles. Built over the 15th and 16th centuries to protect the city from pirate attacks and foreign invaders, those walls can be walked to take in jaw-dropping views of the sea and nearby islands on one side with the red terracotta rooftops of historic buildings on the other. You’ll get a bird’s-eye view over it all by riding the cable car up Mount Srd. On a clear day, you’ll see as far as 37 miles.

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