If you are looking for a new Adriatic adventure, set your compass to south and head for Korčula island. A perfect blend of unspoiled nature and woodlands, rich cultural heritage and a dynamic gastro-enologic scene. With genuine spirit and innovation, step by step, Korčula town takes the number one spot on the must-see, Adriatic destination list
Should you decide to drop anchor underneath the city walls for the time-saving purposes a one-day-trip requires, ACI marina in Korčula town provides 160 cutting-edge, fully-equipped berths along with an infrastructure with two hundred meters of pier, with limit of 40 meters for mega yachts.
Korčula Old town all you need to know
For privacy enthusiasts, the south side of the island hosts numerous secluded bays and coves like Zavalatica, Brna, Rasohatica, Prižba, Karbuni. These are peaceful spots offering serenity far away from the summer crowds. The town of Korčula, this cultural and historical site equals tourist-packed, Dubrovnik.
Offering walks down narrow, stone streets underneath Baroque churches, Renaissance and Gothic facades and palaces. The Revelin Tower will lure you into its stoney interior leading to a little square and there are options to explore the fortified Old town in all directions, enjoy photo spots, ruins of palaces and narrow alleys. If you wish to avoid the regular tourist route, you will find yourself in the magical labyrinth of a medieval grid with the layout of a fishbone, providing protection from the winds.
However, the most charming element is the insight into the world of locals who withstood the challenges of enhancing touristic offering while remaining devoted to their traditional old houses, protecting their piece of urbanism. The people of Korčula cherish their centuries old tradition – they still preform Moreška (during season every Monday and Thursday), a unique, romantic battle dance with swords that generations of Korčula families have proudly taken part in.
If your tour takes place at the peak of the season, around the 20th of July through to mid-August, most probably you will encounter Pošip Days, a festival dedicated to this wine variety. Most restaurants take part in Festival of Knightly Games, when the town dresses in the medieval manner or Wine Festival, when hidden squares like St. Justina turn into intimate gatherings, celebrating and toasting to life with the hum and buzz of summer in the background.
As opposed to the more developed tourist destinations, here, one can find craftsman stores, restaurants, watchmaker shops, wine cellars, regular stores, small jewellery manufactures, all elements of the Mediterranean as it used to be and that nowadays, fades away.
One of the most famous elements is Gabriellis Palace, today housing the Town Museum of Korčula, a must-see treasury of the town’s history, speaking of maritime and stonemasons’ heritage. St. Mark’s cathedral (15th ct.) witnesses of the rise of the craft that dominated the entire walled town.
The town is the living proof of the rich architectural elements derived from a lineage of local stonemasons – church bells, rosettes, portals and alleys, all thanks to the rich stone sources from the quarries on Vrnik and Badija islet, which have contributed greatly to the development of Korčula in an economic, social and political sense.
Marco Polo Museum
If you feel the need to imprint the traces of history onto your taste buds, most restaurants dish up traditional meals. Made according to the old recipes and served under a veil of timeless ambience that rules the Škver Tavern or Adio Mare Tavern (in the vicinity of the Marco Polo Museum), with menus offering two to three traditional meals and a carefully selected wine list.
Korčula hides in its stony bosom many gastro surprise. An exceptional (historical) experience can be had on an open terrace of the oldest town hotel, featuring an ancient spirit with new glam – Korčula De La Ville Hotel, recently completely renovated, where British king Edward VIII, Jackie Kennedy and many other jet-setters have stayed.
One of the visionaries of the new wave of Korčula restaurants, the Lešić-Dimitri boutique hotel, represents an exceptional example of the blend of cuisine cultural heritage and an innovative approach to hotel-management. Apartments feature design elements of the Marko Polo journeys, top service compliments local cuisine and a modern, deconstructed approach of the chefs to the traditional Korčula recipes. The real charm of this island is the adventure of exploring secluded lagoons and finding anchoring spots close to attractive, family-oriented beaches like Vaja, Žitna, Bačve and others.
Track down your piece of Korčula paradise among 20 islets in the archipelago surrounding it. Even in the heat of the season, it is not difficult to find an anchorage in front of the largest, closest islands Vrnik and Badija. They offer secluded beaches, as well as safety during regular, summer, weather conditions. A walking trip across Badija island and close by Vrnik, a current-day peaceful haven known for its quarry, represent a snapshot of history that will remain engraved in your mind.
On the way to the rural, heart and soul of the island, if you are in shape and wish to see every corner of the forest-covered island, a bicycle is a smart way to explore. Less than four kilometres away from the Korčula city centre, one can enjoy magnificent Žrnovo and Postrana. Picturesque villages, living at their own pace without pressure of pre and post tourist seasons, are perfect spots for rewarding yourself with traditional dishes.
Text Filip Bubalo
Photos Boris Kačan, TZ Korčula, Yachts Croatia archive, Zoran Jelača/HTZ, Neven Fazinić