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Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
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Frank Bernheisel
Posted 3.26.18
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL & KATHY CAVANAUGH
All photos courtesy the authors

VISITING WHAT WAS ONCE YUGOSLAVIA: PART 14

A visit to tiny Korcula
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Bura wind was still blowing when La Perla got under way at about 6 AM. The Bura makes for sunny, cool days on the Adriatic Sea. Our destination was the town of Korcula, which shares its name with the island. We arrive in the port of Korcula about 10 AM to find one of the smallest villages we had visited. We had an our tour of the town, which only took maybe 15 minutes to walk around. However, the pace in Korcula was slower than any other towns we visited, so maybe 25 minutes.

Our guide, as always, spoke excellent English, had a great sense of humor, and was very knowledgeable of her home town. Like our other guides, she claims this is the best place in the world to live; if not Korcula, then Croatia. She also acknowledges that since it is so small everyone knows everyone else. Our boat had docked across the street from the old town entrance.

stairs

Korcula was settled by the Illyrians, who were followed by the Greeks in the 6th Century BCE. Like much of Croatia, it became part of the Roman province of Illyricum in the 2nd Century BCE. In 998 the island came under Venetian control after Doge Pietro II Orseolo launched a naval expedition along the coast and assumed the title Duke of Dalmatia. In the 18th Century, Korcula was the main Venetian fortified arsenal in this region.

After the Venetians, the island changed hands many times as the different rulers, east and west, over ran the area; it was even briefly controlled by the British after the defeat of Napoleon. Here, our group is about to enter the fortress; below, Kathy is enjoying the old town of Korcula, inside the fortress.

fortress

town

The primary occupations on the island are fishing, farming, wine making, and stone masonry. Limestone from this area is and was used in many European cities, including Vienna.

The island is also known for its coral jewelry. We have been told several times that the only safe place to buy coral jewelry is in a store where they can give you a certificate of authenticity. The products sold in the kiosks and markets are frequently not the real thing. Real coral jewelry is beautiful, but very, very expensive.

As mentioned before and as our guides keep reminding us, the Adriatic Sea around the coast and islands is extremely clean and clear. The picture below was taken at the quay where La Perla wad docked. The water is 8-10 feet deep and the dark spots in the picture are mussels.

water

Like every town and city we have visited, the houses are very close together and old looking. We have not been inside any, so I have no idea what the interiors look like. The guide told us when this town was built in the 13th Century, they put in sewers, which helped make it a healthy place to live. The picture below is taken from the old town section toward the “newer”.

town

Although there are only 3000 people living in the town, there are nine Roman Catholic churches. While we stopped in front of St. Mark's Cathedral, a traditional, white-robed nun walked by. Our guide said she was 84 years old and had been cleaning and taking care of the Cathedral for more than 40 years.

She did not look like a happy person as she had a scowl on her face. Our guide said that was how she usually looked. Our guide said the nun did not like tourists entering her church. It sounded like an interesting church; we planned to go back when we had our free time. However, when we arrived, the nun was returning to the church with flowers in her arms, probably in preparation for All Saints' Day tomorrow; we were intimidated.

Although it cannot be confirmed, the town of Korcula has some claim to being the birthplace of Marco Polo and there is a house, which is said to be his. There may not be documentation, but in addition to a street, there are many restaurants that include his name! While it is a small place, Korcula truly is lovely. As La Perla pulled away from the quay and we leave Korcula for Slano, lunch was served in the main saloon.

TO BE CONTINUED IN SLANO, CROATIA

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