No one would blame a person visiting Pula for thinking they had accidentally stumbled across a border into Italy. In fact, it's often referred to as Croatia's most Roman city due to the multitude of Roman ruins found throughout. Having the sixth-largest Roman amphitheater in the world -- and one of the most excellently preserved -- doesn't hurt either.
Pula is the largest city in Croatia's Istria County, located on the top of the Istria peninsula. The city and the peninsula both have a long history, including hundreds of years spent as part of the Roman and Venetian empires, so it's no surprise it feels a bit Italian.
In fact, it's steeped in Roman history, with its earliest Roman origins dating back to 177 B.C. and rising to prominence under Julius Caesar in 45 B.C. It then had the unlucky fortune to be involved in the Roman civil war that pitted the triumvirate of Octavian, Lepidus and Mark Antony against Brutus and Cassius after the assassination of Caesar. After siding with the losing duo, much of the city was destroyed in 42 B.C., but quickly rebuilt. It is from this latter age that most of the Roman ruins belong.
As with so many other towns on the Dalmatian Coast, Pula has narrow winding streets and an old town to walk through. Throughout it all you'll find evidence of the city's Roman past from the massive amphitheater that peeks out from behind the trees to Roman gates and burial plots.
Pula is not a large city and as such you can see it in the half day your cruise ship will usually be docked.