Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anchoring in Uvala Luka-Korcula Island May 30, 2011

Korcula Town is one of Dalmatia’s best preserved medieval town centres, and the birthplace of Marco Polo. Four of the 15th century cylindrical towers, part of the fortifications built to protect the town against the Turkish invasion, are still standing.

Like a mini-version of Dubrovnik, Korcula Town has the usual defensive towers and churches, but with a different type of charm and grace. We walked up a flight of steps to the Land Gate, the main entrance to the old town, on one side of the gate was the Trg brace Radica, a small square bordered an elegant loggia belonging to the 16th century town hall, and St Michael’s Church. Further up was the Church of Our Lady, a simple structure whose floor was paved with the tombstones of Korculan nobles and above the high altar was a mosaic of the Virgin and Child, a dazzling confection of yellows, blues and pinks completed by Dutchman Louis Schrikkel in 1967. Immediately beyond was the St. Mark’s Cathedral, with bizarre exterior and interior stone-carving that looked anything but Christian in inspiration. On the exterior, the main figure directly above the porch was St. Mark, flanked by lions pawing smaller, more subservient animals, while the door was framed by figures of Adam and Eve … in toilet-ready squatting pose. Inside the cathedral, the pillars running along the north side of the nave were decorated with extravagant floral squiggles, in writhing goddess-like forms.

Sea view of Korcula town

Entrance to the old city

Marco Polo's birthplace?

A view of the city from Forteca

A wonderful Croatian diner

After a long walk along the narrow alleys lined with tidy well-ordered grid of grey stone houses, the late afternoon sun with light breeze was most pleasant and welcoming. The narrow streets that branched off the main thoroughfare like the veins of a leaf, by design, were to reduce the effects of wind and sun.

Based from the recommendation by one of the tourist staff, we took the Ulica Bernarda Bernardi (very Italian), a wide walking path leading to the Tower Forteca, a wooded hillside with park-like setting and in front of us, were the splendid post-card perfect views of the old town and the Adriatic beyond.

Also following the recommendation from one of the guide books, we bought sweets and biscuits from Cukarin, winner of the HTZ blue flower award and had dinner at Adio Mare, which was only a few steps away from Marco Polo’s “house”. During peak season, the queue would make the street outside virtually impassable. For main course, Ben had the korculanska pasticada (braised beef in port wine and plum sauce) and Eliza had the modest black risotto (made from pieces of squid with ink included).

Korcula was a beautiful medieval town with friendly locals and Luka was a quiet, scenic, sheltered anchorage with an active sailing club across the bay. All in all, we had a great visit here.

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