Goodbye Venice, Hello Padua: Is Vrboska’s Nickname from the Wrong City?

Total Croatia News

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Hvar Wine Association

January 25, 2018 – It is one of the most beautiful destinations in all Dalmatia, but is Vrboska, the ‘Little Venice’ of Hvar, actually indebted to another Italian city for its canal name?

I do love the TCN inbox. It is better than television.

If this wasn’t a family website, I might be tempted to livestream the abuse and bizarre messages we receive on a daily basis. 

And then, on occasion, we get something rather intriguing. 

I lived on Hvar full-time for 13 years, through the bura-laden winters when most sane people had fled, coming only in the summer months. I was in Vrboska often, a delightful 3km coastal walk from my hometown of Jelsa. In addition to its unquestioned beauty, Vrboska also had a rather famous nickname, by which it is known reasonably well internationally – Little Venice. A picturesque canal with idyllic stone bridges, not quite on the scale of The Grand Canal in Venice, I grant you, but Little Venice was enough to fire up a thousand romantic notiions. 

But are we actually linking Vrboska to the wrong Italian city all these years? The TCN Inbox speaks (thanks, DT):

One story: 3 students from Vrboska went to study in Padova. When they came back they build first 3 houses along the canal with small bridges. Since then this part is called Podva. From Padova. So how about “Small Padova”?


The message included a canal from the Italian city of Padua, or Padova. 

The part of Vrboska where the canal is situated is called Podva.  In Croatian, Padua is Padova. Hvar dialect often changes an ‘a’ for an ‘o’ – Hvar is For in Hvar dialect, for example – and the Croatian linguistic approach to loose vowels is to kill them at every opportunity – anyone for a glass of Grk? Padova to Podva, before you can say ‘Little Venice.’

Upon receiving the message, I contacted some people in Vrboska. The first had never heard of this, but agreed that it was perhaps plausible, as the village of Vrbanj, which was once the centre of power for Vrboska, was relatively wealthy and could well have sent children to Italy for education. The second person I contacted confirmed that the story of ‘Little Padova’ was well-established locally. Whether or not it was true, that was very hard to say. 

Little Venice or Little Padova, one thing is for sure – Vrboska is gorgeous. 25 Things to Know about Little Venice (sorry, Padova) on Hvar. 

But why not contact the Padua Tourist Board – it would make a nice story and expose this Dalmatian jewel to some new potential tourists. 


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