As travel writer Debbie Selinsky continues traveling north from Dubrovnik on Wind Star’s 7-day Venice to Venice sailing, she is passing some of the most beautiful ports Croatia has to offer. She shares with us her experiences on the legendary island of Korcula and the culture of Trogir as she sails north through the Adriatic Sea:
One of the longest-running debates in the Mediterranean is related to the birthplace of explorer Marco Polo. He was born in 1254 and there are strong clues that he was born in Venice OR in Korcula, the sixth largest Adriatic island.
During our visit this week to Korcula, professor-turned-director of the Korcula office of Croatian Tourism Stanka Kraljevic explained that proof of his birthplace doesn’t exist simply because no birth or baptismal registries were kept that early in history. However, the existence of a prominent Korcula family named Polo, whose home will eventually be made into a museum, and the fact that Marco Polo is connected to the town by a 1298 battle there over commerce routes between Venetian and Genoan ships contribute to local legends claiming the famous explorer. In that battle, Genoa won and Marco Polo was among the 7,000 on Venetian ships (Korcula was then part of the Republic of Venice) captured and imprisoned in Genoa. It was there that Polo wrote about his global travels.
The next day in Trogir, which is a 30-minute drive from Split, Ana Visic, a Vassar University graduate and Croatian native, shed some light on life and culture on the UNESCO-preserved island. For example, says the 32-year-old scholar and tour guide, socializing here in Trogir and Split is done in cafes over coffee and public squares rather than in private homes. “I have never been to the homes of even my closest friends from childhood,” she said. Traditionally, hard-working Croatians chose to spend whatever money they earned on their children’s education or on improving their businesses, rather than on creating settings for home entertainment.
Visic, who spends hours studying the art and history of the Cathedral of St. Lawrence in Trogir, also took me to meet a famous local artisan. Simply known as Gena (a nickname that means “genius”), the tailor/designer has created distinctive suits he describes as the equivalent of the LBD (“little black dress”) for men. “I was never into fashion — my suits come from my feelings and my soul,” said Gena, who seldom gives interviews. The black suits, which incorporate military style with comfort and elegance, are meant to last a lifetime and to make men of every size look long, lean and masculine. They can be worn many ways — with a vest or without, with a Croatian tie, with a simple black T-shirt, with a white shirt featuring Croatian silver filigree buttons.
Gena, who prefers to keep his business small with showrooms only in Trogir and Split, has made suits for President Obama, actor Armand Assante and tenor Placido Domingo. Insisting he is a “simple man” who isn’t focused on making a lot of money, the price of his suits starts at the reasonable price of 9,000 kuna (less than $2,000 US).
Many students often feel annoyed and irritated by such writing assignments but the fact is that writing these papers actually sharpen your critical thinking. It also increases your imaginative papers and you get to know your strengths and weaknesses.
– Debbie Selinsky