Fiction set in USA and EUROPE: the life of Maria Callas
Take a stunning tour to CROATIA with author Annabelle Thorpe and giveaway
2nd April 2017
- Annabelle Thorpe is the author of The People We Were Before, a novel set in Croatia before, during and after the 1990’s War of Independence. She will be leading an eight-day escorted tour, Croatia Fact & Fiction, from October 4-11 2017 with Completely Croatia. To find out more about her tour, click here
- Giveaway with Marco Polo Guides. 3 copies each of Marco Polo “Perfect Days in… CROATIA”. Simply find the strapline highlighted by the red letters throughout the text and send it to: [email protected] by midnight, Saturday 8th April 2017
Annabelle writes: Few countries can rival Croatia for the amount of history it packs into small size. Knitted into the heart of the Mediterranean, over the centuries this coastal strip of land has been ruled by the Romans, the Austro-Hungarians and the Venetians, occupied by the Germans and had regions partitioned off to Italy and Serbia. In 1929, along with five other Balkan States, it became part of Yugoslavia; 61 years later it began the struggle to re-assume its independence as a country. The Croatia we now know, a sunkissed tourist destination with an island-studded coast, is a relatively new invention after centuries of struggle
Its dramatic history is all the more surprising, given how tranquil the country feels when you visit. In spite of a huge influx of tourists over the past decade, development has been carefully managed to ensure that there are none of the sprawling resorts and high-rise developments that have come to characterise the Spanish and Turkish coasts. Instead, sleepy fishing villages and quiet towns hug the coastline; characterised by terracotta-roofed cottages, quiet, pebbly beaches and cafe-lined squares.
Croatia’s biggest draw is Dubrovnik; a spectacular walled city that dates back to the 15th century, when it was the capital of the Maritime Republic of Ragusa. A great trading city, it’s still possible to walk the entire length of the walls that enclose the Old Town, some of which are a staggering six metres thick. During the War of Independence in the 1990’s, Dubrovnik was under siege for eight months, but the six hundred-year-old walls ensured the city never fell to the JNA forces.
The Republic of Ragusa co-existed alongside the Republic of Venice, which encompassed many areas that now belong to Croatia. One of the most famous is the island of Korcula, which some scholars suggest was the birthplace of Marco Polo. The Croatian claim to the famous explorer has outraged Italian academics; they argue that even if Korcula was his birthplace, at the time of his birth the island was Venetian – thus making him Italian. Whether or not Marco Polo hailed from Korcula, the island is still a joy to discover, with Roman ruins and an elegant old town.
Croatia’s most famous island – Hvar – is also steeped in Venetian history. The island’s old town is a tangle of atmospheric alleyways opening out onto a wide piazza, lined with trattorias and cafes. Few places in Croatia combine history with 21st century style; Hvar is dotted with five-star hotels and luxury spas, and in the summer months the waters around the island are filled with gleaming yachts from the busy city of Split.
The further north you go in Croatia, the more the Italian influence can be felt. The northernmost province, Istria, was actually part of Italy until 1947, and the inland region – all rolling hills and old stone farmhouses – feels very reminiscent of Tuscany. The lush countryside produces wonderful olive oil and wines, and is a famous region for truffles in the autumn months. On the coast, resorts such as Rovinj and Pula are dotted with gelaterias and trattorias, and pasta and pizza are on every menu.
Wherever you visit in Croatia – from the Roman streets of Diocletian’s Palace in Split to the Venetian elegance of cities such as Dubrovnik, Zadar and Sibenik – there are stories to be told and histories discovered. The real joy is that mixed in with the history are wonderful beaches, crystal-clear water and a pace of life that feels delightfully relaxed. Dip into the history, then dip into the sea. What could be better?
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CROATIA FROM MARCO POLO GUIDES
- The Dalmatian breed of dog is named after Dalmatia a south Coastal region in Croatia as the breed has its roots in that region.
- Capital – Zagreb
- Croatia currency – Kuna was named after Kuna, a small rodent, whose fur coats were used as payment in the region many centuries ago.
- Dalmatia is the setting for Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.
- Maraschino Liqueur is from the city of Zadar obtained from distillation of Marsca cherries, the small slightly sour fruit of the Marasca cherry tree, which grows wild along parts of the Dalmatian coast.
- Croatia highest point. Dinara Peak (1,831m)
- Sava River is the largest river in Croatia
- Croatia has 1246 islands, isles and inlets for you to sail through
- Croatia is home to the world’s smallest town called ‘Hum’.
- The world’s biggest truffles come from Croatia.
- Croatian Slavoljab Penkala invented a mechanical pencial called the Penkula in 1906 – today we call it ‘Pen’
- The series Game of Thrones was filmed on the Dalmatian Coast in Split & Dubrovnik
- The most famous beach in Croatia is in Bol, on the island of Brac. Zlatni Rat Beach changes in shape and colour depending on the wind.
- Zadar, the seaside town in Dalmatia holds the titles of the best sunset in the world according to Alfred Hitchcock.
- Croatian coins are named after a lime tree. The Kuna is divided into 100 Lipa – the Croatian name or Linden lime tree
- Croatia enjoys 2,715 hours of sunshine a year (more than Sydney Australia)
- Croatia has 7 Unesco World Heritage Sites
- Agatha Christie spent her 2nd honeymoon in Dubrovnik and Split
- Fiddler on the roof was filmed in Zagreb.
- The Cravat – Neck Tie was first worn by Croatian soldiers.
- Croatia was the first country in the world to offer nudist holidays, of course according to the legend – we got the idea from the British Royals King Edward VIII and his mistress Mrs Simpson – they were the first ones to swim naked in the Bay of Kanda, on the island of Rab back in 1930!!
Now put all the red letters together (making 7 words, it’s the strapline for the Croatian National Tourist Board) and send the strapline to [email protected] by midnight, Saturday 8th April and be in with the chance of winning a copy of The People We Once Were and MP Perfect Days in Croatia.
Thanks to both Annabelle and Gina at Marco Polo Guides for creating this great post!
Don’t forget to look at Annabelle’s guided tour to Croatia, booking now! More here.