Trogir: Italian roots, Balkan hospitality
I wasn’t surprised when our guests from the States wanted to visit the Croatian coast. In my unscientific opinion, Americans are more inclined to go to Croatia than any other Balkan country. We agreed to go with them, but I was a little skeptical. I thought the natural beauty of Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia, and, of course, Serbia, was equally beautiful as Trogir.
And then I saw it.
Our friends’ three-year old daughter kept asking, “what princess lives in THIS castle?”
Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of Balkan sites equal to, if not nicer, than the Croatian coast. But few places have such well-preserved/restored medieval cities, with the additional benefit of being on the water. Trogir’s prime location made self-governance difficult. Greece, Rome, Venice and Austria-Hungary occupied the island at different points in history. But the Italian influence seems the most prominent. We tasted “Easter bread” similar to Panettone, saw ubiquitous pasta dishes, and heard people bid farewell with addio. When we complimented our chef and pension owner on her pizza, we were even given an Italian response: “Ah, but pizza is not a meal.”
There’s a dolce vita air about Trogir. It’s a town designed for wandering, taking photos, and eating ice cream. We saw the major sights in one day and decided to spend the next morning exploring smaller islands in a boat owned by our guide, Marinas. We signed up for a three-hour tour and joked about getting stranded.
Of course, this resulted in us getting stranded.
Fortunately, we were able to make it to Marinas’ summer cottage. It had no electricity, no running water, and loads of character.
Trogir may have Italian roots, but it also has Balkan hospitality. Marinas offered his family’s homemade wine and sage rakija. He encouraged us to explore the island and relax. Our new boat was slow to arrive, so we were only able to reach Maslinica for grilled fish and octopus salad before heading back to Trogir.
When we arrived, our pension owner came back from her restaurant to ask about the trip, play with Milos, and offer a little doll to our friend’s daughter before we piled in the car for the drive to Dubrovnik. Trogir is popular for its architecture and natural beauty, but its Balkan hospitality is its true charm.