Our Most Exciting Discovery on Hvar This Year

Total Croatia News

I have walked past the wall countless times in the last ten years and never known what was on the other side. Today, I entered, saw and heard the fascinating history. Wow! 

When I started blogging 4-5 pieces a day with the launch of Total Hvar six months ago, several friends expressed their doubts that I would be able to keep up the pace, both in terms of energy and, more importantly, material.

I disagreed, arguing that here is an island with a fascinating history dating back to Neolithic times, which so much history, tradition, tourism, nature, gastronomy and so much more, almost none of which has been written about, certainly in English. 

Soon after I began, I started receiving emails from people with great stories, pictures and information about the island. The emails turned to phone calls and invitations for coffees. It has been the most fascinating journey throughout the island this winter and, far from running out of material, there is not enough time in the day to document all the fabulous information.  

The Boss organised a meeting with a lady to discuss agro-tourism options. I didn’t know much more, but the first half of the trip to Vrboska included the discovery of a delightful English garden, a taste of a rather splendid lemon liqueur made from home-grown lemons, and a trip into the UNESCO Stari Grad Plain for a meeting with some donkeys in the most unusual vineyard I have ever seen. A blog is imminent (but again, that time thing…). 

Thinking our job was done and with an eye on the clock for kindergarten collection, we pulled up outside a long wall on the road from Vrboska to Jelsa, which hides what I assumed was a private property on the water. The construction of the wall is outstanding and I have often wondered what was beyond the wall. Today I found out. 

Our host took us into a magic garden and a journey back in time. I was torn between being on time for kindergarten and learning more of the place I had been so curious about all these years. It was even more impressive in reality and my curiosity won (and we did make kindergarten with two seconds to spare…). 

A problematic schoolboy always asking questions. A teacher dismissing the child as a good-for-nothing. The advice to the concerned parents was to give him some land and let him be a farmer, as he would amount to nothing more. An appeal to an uncle in North America. The problem child left the island of Hvar for a new life in North America.  

The problem child blossomed, finished high school and a financial apprenticeship and started a succesful career in finance, accruing some wealth. He was also active in the Croatian émigré community, founding associations to coordinate them. But Hvar was not far from his heart. 

By chance, he learned one day that the ship Carpathia (which played a role on the night the Titanic sank) was heading back to Rijeka (it was a Croatian ship) in two days. He didn’t sleep that night, sold everything he had the next day, then jumped on board and returned to his native Vrboska at the age of about 28.  

With his financial and organisational skills, the useless schoolboy was a pioneering dynamo in the small Dalmatian community, running the sardine factory, opening a library and attending to municipal financial affairs, as well as a stint as Mayor of Vrboska.  

By the time he retired, he was a highly successful and highly respected member of the community, and he began work on the project you see in the pictures in this article, including the construction by hand of the wall I had admired so much.  The picture above is the outdoor patio by the small house, with the year 1958 – when he started construction – at the centre. 

I don’t have the words to describe the beauty, the peace, the attention to detail, and the love which has gone into creating one of the most stunning things I have ever seen on Hvar. The stone work is perfect, the first row location outstanding, the nature relaxing, and the whole experience combined – well, as I say I don’t have the words…  

The small cottage, with impressively thick and immaculately constructed stone walls, is littered with tablets with quotes from many of the world’s great thinkers. 

A gate leads down to the beach and the pristine waters of the Adriatic. The view is the sea and the pine forests of Hvar, interrupted by the occasional boat passing through.  

Antonio ‘Toni’ Beritić went on to live a long and healthy life, apparently only receiving his first medical records at the age of 100. At the time of his death, in 2002, he was the oldest living Dalmatian at 108. And what an impressive legacy he seems to have left, one which we will be investigating in more detail shortly.  

We are currently looking into more information and the possibilities of doing something with regard to group visits, so please contact us if you would like to know more.  

The old wooden gates that form the entrance have been replaced by more elegant iron gates, which allows one to peer through and get at least a taste of the magic inside. The best thing I have seen on Hvar this year. Love this island – so much to discover. 


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