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A Tiny Island in the Adriatic

A Tiny Island in the Adriatic

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

Since our first glimpse of Trogir, as we came in for a landing (yes on a prop plane – how often does that happen?!) at the Split airport, we’ve wanted to explore this intriguing barely-an-island. Just steps from the mainland, it’s connected by a couple of short bridges, then further bridged to a larger island, Ciovo.
It’s an easy 30 minute drive from Split, our home for two months, and like all of the places we’ve visited this Covid-changed fall, it looks much different, with just a few locals out and about, than the Youtube videos we’ve watched, when each square, promenade or bridge is jammed with people. Imagine standing in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, or in the middle of St. Mark’s Square in Venice, alone, just taking it in at your leisure…it’s a pleasure!
We choose a couple of pastries at the first bakery we pass, then settle in with our cappuccinos at a main-square cafe, enjoying the view of Trogir’s showpiece – the Cathedral of St. Lawrence. That gorgeous bell tower alone took 200 years to build – the entire edifice was built from the 13th to 17th centuries. Gothic arches on the first level, then Venetian Gothic (a taste of what we’ll continue to spy along the twisting lanes of the interior)  topped by Renaissance – an architectural lesson in stone.
Across from the cathedral is the 15th century St. Sebastian’s church, topped by the town clock, added in the Renaissance era. Beside the church, the Town Loggia hides behind cafe umbrellas.
The town hall anchors another side of the plaza, inviting a peek into its Gothic courtyard. One of the many Venetian-style wells on this coast, this one is carved with the winged lion of St. Mark, the symbol of the Venetian Republic, which ruled the area in the 1400s. On the walls are coats of arms of noble families of the era.
Tiny though the island is, we have no trouble filling a day with wandering its maze of marble streets, enclosed by sturdy medieval walls. From small details to intricate carvings, our eyes dart from one intriguing sight to another. We pass an elegant entry into a palace courtyard, now a vacation rental and keep looking up to take in the Venetian gothic windows scattered through the lanes. Not many places are serving meals in the off-season, but after walking across a bridge to Ciovo island to appreciate the views of Trogir, we return and find a picturesque spot by the old fish market, with our always-a-prerequisite view! Any self-respecting Dalmation Coast town MUST have it’s Riva (seaside promenade) and Trogir’s is wide and welcoming,

popular with young and old. A bulwark of a fortress, Kamerlengo Castle, another Venetian addition, anchors one end.Turn right at the fortress, and a soccer field fills the space between it and a later tower, St. Marks. This must be the most fabulously located soccer field in the world!
As the sun sets, we take in the views from one end of the Riva to the other, and take a final stroll inside the walls. The ancient town hall twinkles with fairy lights, and we stop for one more look before driving back to Split. Yes, we filled the whole day with the delights of tiny Trogir!

Plan B – Not bad at all!

Plan B – Not bad at all!

Plan A: Sell our US home in 2020, move to our much-loved apartment in Aix-en-Provence
Covid derailed that plan for sure – no Americans can enter France since March! So where to live now that all of our belongings are in storage after the sale of our home? We’ve got to live SOMEWHERE – but where?
Plan B: Fly to the ONE European country allowing Americans to enter – Croatia! So here we are, in a wonderful 8th floor apartment in Split, chosen for its view of the sea as well as required comforts for an extended stay. Split is Croatia’s second largest city, after the capital, Zagreb, and is located on the gorgeous Dalmatian coast, facing Italy. 
For those who may be interested in spending time in this beautiful country, here are the ABC’s:
There are specific requirements for entering Croatia as an American: proof of lodging, and a 14 day quarantine, unless you present a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of landing in the country. Of course we chose the test route, although we continue keeping to ourselves, as we did when living in Virginia. Finding a facility that promises a 48 hour turn-around was a challenge – and since we were not symptomatic, but were getting the test for travel, costly as well! We chose My Doctor’s Pharmacy, not far from our northern Virginia home, and took our self-administered tests 2 days before our entry into Croatia, driving to the rear of the pharmacy and following the instructions of the pharmacist who handed us the tests.
Before traveling, we made sure to print out transit requirements for Germany, since that was our route – Washington-Munich-Split, in case we were asked to show permission to transit. We also printed out the Croatia entry requirements, and receipt and appointment verification for our PCR tests.
Our entry requirements were confirmed at check-in in Washington. Before landing in Germany entry forms were handed out to all to be completed – we asked if we needed them as we were transiting. The flight attendant did not know, and said to fill them out to be safe. As it turned out there was no need for the forms – we walked off the transatlantic flight and directly to our gate for the Split flight. No questions were asked as we boarded.
When we arrived in Split we went through passport control, and at that time were asked from where we originated, where we had been living, for the address of our lodging (although we had been told we would need a receipt proving payment for lodging, that was not requested), how long we were staying, and test results – well, the emailed results had not yet arrived! The kind and helpful agent asked for our phone numbers and emails, apologized and said we’d have to quarantine until we received the (negative!) results, and we said no problem. He gave us a phone number to call – a health agent for the Dalmatia region – with the results. Once the negative results were confirmed, we would be taken off of the list of people who would be checked on to make sure they are quarantining for the required 14 days.
We called an Uber to take us to the apartment, met our host, Boris, elevatored up to the 8th floor, and were immediately drawn to the view – isn’t it spectacular? We certainly wouldn’t mind self-isolating here while waiting for our test results! We asked Boris if he would make that call for us when we received the results, and he did so when they arrived within an hour or two.
We were free! So walked downstairs to a nearby market, bought a few supplies, and made a pasta dinner to enjoy on the balcony, toasting the sunset and our safe arrival – hooray for Plan B!
Coming up – the ancient center of Split, island visits, and more, as we revel in the beauty of daily life in Croatia.

Wines of the World in Perugia

Wines of the World in Perugia

February 1-2, 2012
Perugia, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: Our spring tours in Barcelona, Venice or Prague

Have you heard that it’s cooooold in Italy? From Washington Dulles to Rome we flew on the last night of January, leaving the mild winter of Virginia for chilly Europe. A busload of travelers from around the world were then transported to Perugia for the 4th annual International Wine Tourism Workshop. Wine’s not in our tour company name, but it’s always a valued part of each trip, as we introduce our guests to the delicious vintages of Italy and France, often close to where they’re produced.
We’re in Hotel Gio, which is a wine, jazz, and chocolate themed hotel. Our room’s in the jazz side, contemporary, with a CD player loaded with some great jazz right on the wall as you enter. We have a scant 30 minutes to check in, splash some water on our faces to help wake us up, grab some business cards and head to the conference room, where the sessions are on Italian Wine Tourism, then Croatia as a grape escape destination… and the announcement of Croatia as next year’s venue for the conference.

And then the sipping begins… with a tasting of wines from Georgia, accompanied by traditional nibbles such as walnut stuffed sweets.

Moving on – to wines and savories from Umbria, the Italian region of which Perugia is the capital. Platters of grilled bread drizzled with just-pressed green olive oil are a favorite of all.

Dinner has been prepared by Croatian chefs…. note the plethora of glasses awaiting Croatian wines! Lots of wines to try today, but the Italians remain our favorites!

The jazz hotel uses LP records as placemats in their New Orleans restaurant – cute!

Thursday is filled with meetings at the historic Palazzo Priori, in the center of Perugia.
The bus can’t enter the center, so we walk through the snow to the vaulted hall,

where the symbols of medieval Perugia, griffons from the 1200’s that were on the Cathedral, are kept safe from the elements.

Anthony Swift, the founder of the International Wine Tourism Conference, fills us in on the activities and history of the group.

Does Perugia by any chance bring CHOC- OLATE to mind? The whole world knows of their signature candy, Baci. A slab of chocolate (chunk off your own piece) is part of the morning refreshment break.

We nibble our treats and enjoy the view down on Perugia’s much-loved Fontana Maggiore, designed and sculpted by the Pisani family in the late 1200’s in honor of the arrival of water via acqueduct for the city.
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