Adriatic Petra – Korcula in Travel and Leisure Magazine
Travel and Leisure writer Peter Jon Lindberg wrote an article “Croat D’Azure” about his visit to Dalmatian coast. He also visited Korcula. Here is an extract from the article which describes his impressions of Korcula in which he called it “Adriatic Petra”:
The sharp scent of pine resin mingles with salt air on Korcula, three hours by ferry from Dubrovnik. Forests of Aleppo pine, cypress, and holm oak make this one of the Adriatic’s most verdant isles. It’s known for top-notch wines and for being one of several alleged birthplaces of Marco Polo.
Korcula’s primary draw, however, is the town of the same name. A snow-globe version of Dubrovnik, with a compact historic quarter encased within stone walls, Korcula took shape under Venetian rule between the 10th and 18th centuries. The Italian influence lingers in Renaissance-era loggias, arched bridges linking the upper stories of palaces, and myriad statues of St. Mark. In contrast to Dubrovnik’s, the architecture is quite rough-hewn—all of Korcula looks to be carved from a single piece of stone, like an Adriatic Petra —and is on a decidedly smaller scale, with squat fluted windows and minuscule doorways rimmed with green shutters. The 30-odd lanes wending through the old quarter are so narrow that one could leap from rooftop to rooftop clear across town.
The English writer Rebecca West, visiting in 1937, likened Korcula to “a goldsmith’s toy, a tortoise made of precious metals, sitting on its peninsula as on a show-stand.” Not much has changed. Days begin with ink-black espresso at one of Korcula’s ubiquitous cafés, followed perhaps by a circuit around the pine-fringed promenade just outside the city walls. The Old Town’s promontory juts like a thumb into the shimmering bay, lapped by waves on three sides. From inside the walls, however, you’d have little idea you were on the sea; the crooked passageways huddle in shadow for most of the day. I alternated stints at the sun-drenched town beach with cooling strolls down the old quarter’s lanes. Peering into darkened ground-floor kitchens I could glimpse the dim figures of housewives preparing lunch: grilled squid, sautéed shrimp, wine-braised octopus. At Korcula’s jumbled Abbey Treasury museum, a charming old docent followed me from room to room, pointing out Titians and Tintorettos and switching lights on and off as we went.
In the afternoons I would bike out for a bracing swim at Przina beach, a pebbly strand on Korcula’s southern peninsula, near the town of Lumbarda. Lumbarda is famous for Grk wine (wonderful name, that), a pungent white with the sweet character of liqueur. Vineyards crept over the roadside here; wheel-crushed grapes stained the asphalt. The road wound past olive, lime, and almond groves, past stalks of blood-red sunflowers, past a medieval chapel dropped in the center of a vineyard. With slices of prsut and sharp paski sir cheese procured from a butcher, I stopped to picnic beside the shell of a stone farmhouse; a copse of trees poked up through what remained of the roof.
I returned to Korcula Town just before sunset, the evening air soft as a silk shirt. The passageways were bathed in the glow of amber lamps; moonlight cast a blue aura on ship masts and church steeples. Several women were grilling garlicky dorado on a barbecue while their children squeezed in a game of soccer. I assumed they were Korculan, but upon closer inspection, I realized they were all speaking French. (Foreigners—particularly French and Italian—are buying up property here at a dizzying pace.)
Just beyond the medieval walls, Vespas were honking their way through the crowds by the marina. Beck’s “Sexx Laws” thumped from a harborfront disco. At the Internet café, Croatian teenagers were playing Grand Theft Auto. But down the musty, catacomb-like corridors of the Old Town, the night slipped back 100, 500, 750 years, and Korcula looked much as it must have in Marco Polo‘s day. The wine, of course, helped.