21. Aug

Angelato’s Fairy Tale Pilgrimage: the Stone Island of Brač

After arriving in the Dalmatian island of Brač, you will first be dazzled by stone. The snow-white “Brač marble” has been known since the ancient times and has been used to build many important buildings of many not only European cities (Diocletian’s Palace in Split, the White House in Washington, the parliament buildings in Vienna and Budapest, state buildings in Belgrade, the Panorama hotel in Prague) as well as the tomb of our friend’s Czech great-grandpa.

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The name Brač comes from an old Illyrian word for the deer which used to be considered a cult animal in the Mediterranean (brenton in Illyrian, élaphos in Greek). Brač island was registered under the names Brentista and Elaphusa. Nowadays there’s no way we could meet deer here.

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On every step, however, we encounter the remnants of this island’s rich past. We’re wandering through the rocky landscape, in the shade of centenarian olive trees, between old walls built out of quarry stone. The inhabitants of Brač have spent centuries removing the stone, creating fields and terraced land on which they planted olive trees and grapevines.

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In the inland we discover the gorgeous village of Škrip in which we find the remnants of the giant rock fortification, the so called cyclopean masonry. Škrip is the oldest of the local ancient villages with its age estimated to be 3000 years. During the ancient Roman period it used to be the main center for sarcophagus production. Nowadays virgin olive oil is produced here, known for its mild bitterness and the smell of Adriatic sea salt and fruit. Olive groves are literally on every step here and contribute to the fairy-tale-like character of the local countryside. Most olive trees are from 150 to 300 years old.

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It was among these olive trees that we, for the first time in our lives, met someone producing olive oil. We are on the Dujmović family farm, where olive trees have been traditionally grown. A group of six original stone houses with flat-stone-plate rooftop (škriljci) has taken our breath away. Mrs Luce and Mr Mihovilo Dujmović invite us into the cellar (čemer) and proudly present to us 150-year-old stone troughs with seals, the so called “kamenice”. They explain to us with a smile that these “sarcophagi” didn’t end up in Rome and are here, filled with olive oil which ripens in them to perfection and acquires that inimitable taste and a subtly green color. They tell us that olives require silence, rocky soil, salt and sun. Harvesting begins in late October or early November and sometimes goes on until February. The pressing procedure of virgin olive oil has almost not changed throughout the centuries and it’s nowadays still pressed when cold.

Meeting extraordinary people is always enriching and their world somehow also becomes yours.

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We have brought to you a unique message from Brač. It can be read by your taste buds when you taste olive ice cream and let it thaw on your tongue and wonder. Let us know then what it said…

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Simply. Angelato