Fly in Sibiu, Romania - Fly out from Pula, Croatia
Day 1, Romania – Roman heritage location “Alba Iulia” – Roman heritage location “Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa” – Optional overnight stay: old Roman spa Baile Herculane
Day 2, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria – Drobeta Turnu Severin – Vinju Mare Vinery and/or Corcova Vinary (Muntenia and Oltenia Hills vine region) – Negotin – Rajacke and/or Rogljevske pimnice (Negotinska krajina wine region) – Optional overnight stay: Vidin (Bulgaria)
Day 3, Bulgaria – Vidin - Roman heritage location “Kale fortress of Belogradchik” – Magura Winery & Cave – Roman heritage location “Ulpia Oescus” – Optional overnight stay: Pleven
Day 4, Bulgaria, Serbia – Pleven – Chateau Kaylaka winery (North-Central wine region) – Optional overnight stay: Zaječar (Serbia)
Day 5, Serbia, Croatia – Roman heritage location “Felix Romuliana” – Niš – Sremska MItrovica – Roman heritage site “Sirmium” – Old Wine Cellar (Stari podrum)(Ilok wine region, Croatia) – Optional overnight stay: Ilok
Day 6, Croatia – Ilok – Zagreb – Optional overnight stay: Brijuni Islands
Day 7, Croatia – Brijuni Islands – Pula
Along DN 68, dozens of flapping flags indicate the right place to be. They all are printed with the brand new blue and white logo of Roman Emperors’and Danube Wine Route, which improve the main road of tiny little Romanian village of Sarmizegetusa into a promenade of historical value. Here, in Hateg County, 8 km from famous Iron Gates of Transylvania and 160 km north of Danube, it is a monumental tongue twister, that shakes first: Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa is hard to learn, not really created for modern ears.
Passing through the vibrant town of Drobeta Turnu Severin with its attractive harbor, have a look on the ancient ruins of the basement of Trajan`s Bridge, built by Apollodorus of Damascus across Danube 102 – 105 AD.
Afterwards, you may go to Vinju Mare Vinery, just 25 km away of Drobeta. In the village, follow the signposts to Crama (wine cellar). We recommend fantastic dry red “Prince Vlad” Fetească Neagră (Black Feteasca) Grand Reserve 2011, arriving at formidable 14 %. This rarity is sold only 10 000 bottles per year.
After Danube crossing and passport check, there is Serbian city of Negotin. Try to visit Rajacke and Rogljevske Pivnice, both new candidates for UNESCO World heritage list. Discover restored stone buildings and storages, old barrels, tools for viticulture, portraits of holy patron of wine makers, St. Triphun (Triphon), and modern art. Celebrate traditional Serbian dishes with local Traian or Gamay wine (barrique) of Negotinska Krajina wine region.
Transfer to Vidin is easy and short: You are in the triangle of Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. Vidin offers excellent accommodation and a wide range of attractions.
Don't miss Kale fortress of Belogradchik, candidate of UNESCO World heritage.
There is also Magura Winery & Magura Cave, 15 million years old.
On the road to Pleven, the way to Ulpia Oescus in Gigen village is signposted. Oescus is a place where the Emperor Constantine I (the Great) was personally present on 5th of July, 328 AD during the ceremonies for the brand new bridge across the Danube – later called Constantines`s Bridge. Wine enthusiasts should visit to the only Bulgarian wine museum in Pleven, to see the selection of 7000 special Bulgarian wines and the exhibition of Bulgarian wine history. Test Bulgarian grape Mavrud, which has been cultivated for 3000 years.
Felix Romuliana in Gamzigrad, near Serbian city of Zaječar, offers a tour of the Emperor's Galerius palace. Further south, in Niš, the antique Roman city of Naissus, all activity is focused on the Emperor Constantine I. But main Roman site is at Mediana, where up to 40 Roman villas were erected, including the Imperial palace of Constantine and his sons.
Old Roman capital of Sirmium, today city of Sremska Mitrovica, is one of the highlights of the trip. The new visitors' centre at the Imperial Palace offers information and excellent guided tours. Enjoy a glass of wine (a Chardonnay) or even a Bermet from one of the podrums (wine cellars) of Fruška Gora wine region.
Arriving to Ilok, Croatia, where Old Wine Cellar (Stari podrum) is number one on the spot. Enjoy the services in restaurant and hotel, or visit Principovac hotel and restaurant (in former residence of Italian noble Odescalchi family). You may even play some golf, there. Ask for the outstanding Traminer, especially Traminac Premium 2011 (Premium Traminer), awarded a gold medal at Paris, 2012.
Certainly, Croatia presents further outstanding Roman heritage, but one destination is special: Pula, ancient Roman Pola.. Enjoy performances in Pula Arena, the former great amphitheatre, and see the exhibition Viticulture and Olive Oil Production in Istria During the Roman Period in the subterranean section. Also, try to sail to protected Archipelago of Brjuni Islands, where one may relax, and enjoy the Sun, sand, sea, a wonderful glass of wine, Balkan and sea food specials, as well as Roman history of the isles.
Jürgen Sorges traveled Roman Emperor’s and Danube Wine Route 19-25 August 2013.