You Know You Are Dalmatian When…

Total Croatia News

a-a-olive-harvest-hvar (5).jpg

October 23, 2018 – It is the time of year when Dalmatians all over Croatia will be getting twitchy, for the land is calling. The inseparable bond of Dalmatians and olives. 

About ten years ago, long before I decided to try and become a writer, I found myself in the boardroom of one of the Koncar companies in Zagreb, doing a presentation on the benefits of compressed air leakage management for a Swedish company. I had managed to get the meeting the classic Croatian way – through ‘veze’ (connections), as the director was from Hvar and we had some mutual friends in common. 

The meeting went well, and my presentation was well-received, but the part of the meeting I will never forget was the small talk between the director and myself, that island bond in this big sprawling city. It was October, the director was preparing to come home on leave for a most important event. 

The olive harvest. 

His colleagues smiled and teased him a little, but there was something unsaid that was understood by all. When the olives are calling, even the most sophisticated director with island roots will put business on hold and head to the family field for several days of picking olives and catching up with family and friends. 

At the time, I remember thinking that this director was nuts. But then I too moved north, far away from sunny Dalmatia, and as we enter late October, I too am beginning to have a funny calling from the soil of Dalmatia. It is time to prepare for the family olive harvest.

a-a-olive-harvest-hvar (5).jpg

I often feel sorry for my wonderful father-in-law. An exceptional man who started out life with nothing and managed to not only build his own house, but also put all four children through university, it would have only been right and fitting that he be blessed with a local son-in-law, whose love of the field matched his own. Instead he got some blogging foreigner who was not even sure when the tomato season was. 

And when it came to olives, that most sacrosanct part of the famous Mediterranean diet, I doubt I could have identified an olive tree before moving to Dalmatia. Olive oil was something I never came across in my diet, and I had probably had a maximum of half a litre in my previous life in total. There are times these days when I feel I am getting that a day…

a-a-olive-harvest-hvar (4).jpg

Getting used to olive oil in the daily diet was one thing, actually getting out into the field to pick those little blighters was quite another. As with many Dalmatian families, our family has its own olive trees, about 80 in all. And while my father-in-law takes care of the trees all through the year, when it comes to picking the olives, help is required, and family members and friends answer the call. Here is my brother-in-law, above for example, who jetted in from California with his fiancee last year, to help out.


And over the years, as I have come to understand Dalmatia a little better, I have come to see the olive harvest not so much as a job which has to be done, but an opportunity for locals to escape back to their roots, to slow down the pace of modern life and catch up with friends and family, reminiscing about the past and looking forward to the future. Dalmatia does family living better than any place I know, and an integral part of the experience is including family of all generations. With such an early affinity to the soil, there is not a chance that the kids of this Manchester boy will not know when the tomato season is….

When we got off the ferry in Stari Grad this summer after several months up north, I was smiling as I watched my daughters through the rearview mirror. Their windows were open, their eyes closed and their noses taking in and reminiscing about the various wonderful smells of this most aromatic island. A bond with the land which they will always have.   


 The olives are calling. And after 13 years of immersion in Dalmatian life, this Manchester boy is also feeling the call. 


A hard day’s picking in the field, rewarded by a classic Dalmatian feast.

Simple and authentic pleasures in a natural paradise. There are some things that Dalmatia does better than anywhere in the world. 


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment