Croatian Fair with Traditional Products Happening on Split Riva

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Tash Pericic

On the 16th October 2017, I took a stroll down the Riva and was pleasantly surprised, there is a ‘Croatian Fair’ currently happening on the Riva.

Yesterday I went for a stroll down the Riva as one does on a warm October day in Split and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found – Croatian products and antiques have taken the place of cheap Chinese souvenirs.

And, I literally mean surprised because I could not find a word of it mentioned anywhere. The Split Tourist Board posted a live webcam of the Riva late last night but that was about it. 

Anyway, a walk along the Riva told me all I needed to know, the usual ‘tourist-trap’ stands have been replaced by an array of unique Croatian products. There are likes of homemade rakija, lotions and natural soaps, beautiful olive wood products, sponges…

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Fun fact about the sponge – I have seen these everywhere around Croatia and always wondered ‘what on earth?’ It was only recently I learned about Krapanj’s longstanding history (more than 300 years) of deep-sea diving for sponges. It is dangerous work because the sponge has to be hand-harvested and grows at depths beyond 50 metres. The Adriatic sponge is said to be the best in the world – but don’t worry, there is no risk of endangering the sponge (are you surprised I am still talking about a sponge?) because it naturally regenerates.

Why would you want a weird looking sponge? Well, surprisingly they have a lot of benefits, they are a great natural remedy for exfoliating skin in the shower, good for all types of cleaning and even for doing jobs like staining wood, painting or renovations. The best thing about them is that they have strong antibacterial and antiallergenic properties, in other words – they don’t retain bacteria which is always good to know.

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I felt the need to share this random information so, now when you see them you will understand that they do have links to Croatian history and you may even be tempted to purchase one.

Moving on, there are also some vintage and antique stands with many unique items.

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Who doesn’t want a sword or antique diving helmet to remember their time in Split?

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There was a lot of interest, locals and tourists all stopping to peruse the wares. It made me think – why is this not a regular occurrence, why is this not the norm? The Riva gets more foot-traffic in Split than any other area, thousands upon thousands of tourists walk up and down the Riva or sit at any number of cafés watching the world go by. Why doesn’t Split make a statement and ONLY offer stall space to original and handmade products? Show tourists what Croatia truly has to offer. Besides the fruit and vegetable markets, the Pazar is an absolute embarrassment; every stall sells the same cheap (crap) products: sunglasses, handbags, magnets, bad T-shirts…

Why not turn the Riva into a display of pride in Croatia and Croatian products? There are also dozens of extremely talented artists in Split who struggle for gallery space or getting attention tucked down random alleyways. Give artists or local entrepreneurs a stall or at least a rotating stand that changes from week to week, allowing everyone the opportunity to represent themselves and Split in the best way possible?

Obviously, this is a matter for the city and one article won’t make a difference. But, the questions should be asked; so, consider this food for thought.

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Or, consider this as food for thought, your choice.

In the meantime, head down and check out the Riva. How long will it be there for? No idea, I can’t find information anywhere…

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 All photos by Tash Pericic

Source info regarding sponges: Adria Planet


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