And we arrived at Korkula, it is the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk, and the most populous Croatian island not connected to the mainland by a bridge!
Our Airbnb host was waiting for us at the terminal, she was super nice and quite a character and helped the strongest of the group (Nadeem) to carry his bag. We think the host had a secret crush on him. She even left a bottle of wine for us to enjoy at the apartment.
This island has a lot of history (like all the other islands around this area). They were conquered by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and in the 12th century Korčula was conquered by a Venetian nobleman, Pepone Zorzi, and incorporated briefly into the Venetian Republic. Then, Italy, Germany and Yugoslavia took control of this island until 1991, when Croatia declared independence.
We walked to the city, which was around 2 miles away to find something to eat. The old town is absolutely stunning. Like a mini Dubrovnik.
The city is full of cafes and bars, it wasn’t hard to find somewhere to sit and enjoy some Italian food and some drinks. We had a long day, and the Airbnb hosts’s daughter tried to convince us to go to the Boogie Jungle club which apparently is amazing. But we are old and not into the clubby scene anymore, so after dinner, we went to sleep to be rested for tomorrow’s wine tasting tour.
Today we decided to take a wine and panorama tour, whatever that means. Our van and guide picked us up at the apartment to start this adventure. Our guide was probably the worst guide to ever exist, with his ability to deliver absolutely no knowledge of the history of Croatia, and a voice that can put to sleep an elephant in 20 seconds, we were less than thrilled to have him for the whole day.
The “Panorama” part of the tour included several viewpoint stops of the town, lakes, mountains and other islands.
Our first stop was the Bire Winery in Lumbarda. We sat inside the tasting room and tried 4 wines that were less than stellar. We tried the very special GRK wine.
The region where GRK is grown, indeed the only place it can be grown, is very restricted. It has to be sandy soil, which only occurs in one small area, and that’s where the existing vineyards are. There’s no room for expansion, so basically, the wine production here is as much as it’s ever going to get. We stopped at a viewpoint and poor Sarah was stung by a wasp. She was not happy and in a lot of discomfort but luckily was able to distract herself by getting to go to the next winery.
Toreta Winery was our second stop. Located in the village of Smokvica, this family run winery has risen in recent years to the challenge of world wide competition. The wines here were superb and the service amazing. The guy running the place was so nice and tried to explain everything, and was pouring us a lot of wine for us to enjoy. Very recommended.
Our third and last winery of the tour was inside the old town, but before we took a boat around the city. The boat ride lasted around 3 minutes, yes, 3 minutes. I don’t even know why they even bother to do it. Anyways, it was relaxing.
Basically the boat ride takes you around the defensive wall.
Korčula had for years supplied the timber for the wooden walls of Venice, and had been a favorite station of her fleets. From 1776 to 1797 Korčula succeeded Hvar as the main Venetian fortified arsenal in this region.
We ended the tour in this small tasting room in the middle of the city. Wines were good and we also got to try other fruit traditional liquors from the area.
After the tour, we still had half the day to visit the city. We just wandered around without direction in the narrow alleys and beautiful cobble stone streets.
Who would have thought that we will encounter Marco Polo’s house! Marco Polo was not the first European to reach China, but he was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his experience. This book inspired Christopher Columbus and many other travelers. There is substantial literature based on Polo’s writings; he also influenced European cartography, leading to the introduction of the Fra Mauro map.
Of course, Eitan and his FOMO were the only one that wanted to visit the house-museum, while the rest waited outside.
The museum is practically these stairs and a room, with absolutely nothing to see or do. A pretty disappointing tourist trap, considering Marco Polo’s amazing history, they could have displayed amazing artifacts and stories. Marco Polo’s birthplace is generally considered Venice, but also varies between Constantinople, and the island of Korčula. In other words, nobody knows if this one was actually his house.
This is the view from Marco Polo’s room. I guess this view was very inspiring to him.
We continued our city walk.
The city of Korcula can be seen in a couple hours. Totally worth the visit for a relaxing day.
We quickly stopped at a nice trendy bar to drink some wine while enjoying the view of the city.
After eating dinner, we headed back to the apartment. But not without a million pictures of the amazing sunset in the city!
Bonus Pic Of The Day: The Lion of Saint Mark, representing the evangelist St Mark, pictured in the form of a winged lion holding a bible or a sword, is the symbol of the city of Venice and formerly of the Republic of Venice. The interesting thing about this symbol is that depending what the lion is holding, it means something completely different:
- An open book is a symbol of the state’s sovereignty (Korkula in this case)
- A closed book, however, is considered as a symbol of a delegated sovereignty, and hence the public courts.
- An open book (and the sword on the ground is not visible) is popularly considered as a symbol of peace for the state of Venice.
- A closed book and a drawn sword are popular as a symbol of the state in war.
- Finally, an open book and a sword are considered as a symbol of public justice.