Being now happily settled into Vrboska, on Tuesday we set off to paint in the oldest town on the island – Stari Grad. Our sites for today would reflect the history of this place and the legacy of the ancient Greek and Roman settlers.
We started around 9:30, intending to visit the Dominican Monastery, which opens then. However, as the group seemed inclined to linger happily in the lovely old streets and take photos, we headed towards Tvrdalj, where we would base ourselves for the morning.
Tvrdalj is the fortified summer residence of Petar Hektorović, dating back to the 15th century. It has a beautiful cloistered fish pool, and a peaceful, shady garden – perfect for sitting around and painting. We wandered around with cameras in our usual way, before choosing a favourite view to spend time with.
My choice was the climb up to the little terrace overlooking the pool area and out towards the church of Sv Stefan next door. It was going well, and I was lost in the stonework of the buildings when the sun came out and I started to cook. OK, time to go and explore the possibilities of the shade!
Downstairs, a couple of our artists were sitting on the walls of the pool area, one painting the fish, another sketching the curving arches. Over in the garden, other artists had discovered walls or plants that excited them. It was peaceful and cool in the shade. I selected a view of the dovecot as seen through an archway, and arranged my paints.
At midday, we packed up and moved to the nearby Biankini Palace, which houses the Stari Grad museum. It’s an eclectic mix of Greek and Roman antiquities – some lovely mosaics and bits and pieces of daily life here from the 3rd century BC on, as well as a complete tableau of a shipwreck complete with amphorae scattered around.
Upstairs, there is an art gallery with paintings by two local artists, Juraj Plančić and Bartol Petrić. Naturally, the watercolours caught our attention and we were interested to see how other artists had captured the local scenes.
Lunch at the Djardin restaurant gave some artists further opportunity for sketching, then we made our way out to the Stari Grad Plain. The sense of continuity from the early Greek farmers who laid out this field system is very strong. Their walls have been maintained over the centuries in the same place, and the same crops are still grown – grape vines, figs and olives. We trekked across a field to sketch at Kupinovik, the site of an old Roman farm.
Close by is the more recent AgroTurizam Pharos, an eco-farm with hens, goats, cows, donkeys and horses. They grow their own fruit and vegetables and offer food and wine-tasting. They’d kept the normally roaming goats inside just for us, and now tethered them under the olive trees for us to draw.
The cicadas chirped in the afternoon sunshine as we settled to paint on the shady terrace. A glass of wine, anyone?
Our review and critique session at the end of the afternoon was held right there on the terrace – here are my two sketches from Tvrdalj…
Later that day… we went into Jelsa for a special wine-tasting with Ivo Duboković, one of Hvar’s best wine-makers. He is also experimenting with olive oils it seems, so we were given some of those to try also. What a wonderful evening, and a great way to round off the day! (Sorry about the quality of the photo, I’m not good at taking low light pix!)