Hvar is the island of wine, and in many vineyards the grapes are ripening, almost ready for harvest. Our 5th day of painting took us right in amongst some old vines, near the village of Svirče.
As vineyards go, this one is rather impressive, mostly large rocks with pockets of soil for the vines. Around the back of the vineyard a cobbled path climbs up the hill towards the village. It’s a timeless scene, you could imagine generations of villagers working the fields and trudging home up that path with a laden donkey.
No donkeys in sight today, sadly. Our artists picked out their favourite view of the vineyard and the red roofs of the village, and settled down to paint for a couple of hours. It was pretty hot in the full sun, and only a few spots of shade under the olive trees. Funny how the best views are never from the shade, though! Thankfully the clouds built up as the morning wore on, so it was actually rather pleasant by the time we stopped for lunch.
Our next stop was a visit to the Bratanić family konoba, tucked away in the streets of Vrbanj. It’s a delightful place, looking just the same now as in years gone by. This is where the wine is made, the olives are pressed, and all the agricultural implements are stored. And it’s where friends are entertained, over a glass of homemade prošek, grappa or wine.
We’re here for lunch, a wonderful spread of traditional Dalmatian food, platters of cheese and dried ham, salted sardines in olive oil with capers, and grilled aubergines with a fantastic home-made tomato sauce. Yummy! And, of course, a glass or two of their own wine. Our hosts are Marija and Antun Bratanić, with their daughter Tatiana. Son Miki Bratanić is a well-known author and poet, a passionate advocate of preserving this wonderful Dalmatian heritage, and the Bratanić konoba is the first one to be recognized as a National Protected Cultural Asset. The agricultural tools are beautifully preserved, some of them still in use! And the atmosphere is authentic and welcoming, just as it would have been a century ago. A very special lunch!
For the afternoon, we drove up to Vrisnik, possibly the best hidden of the inland hilltop villages, facing the mountain as it does! The absolute best view is from the church, right at the top of the village. I notice this church also has a dome, beautifully built in stone.
From here, you can see back to Svirče, surrounded by its terraces of vineyards. The Svirče church is very distinctive because of its blueish dome. Behind it, the spire of the Vrbanj church peeks above the hill.
Further round, and down by the coast lie Vrboska, and Jelsa, red roofs against the blue of the sea. And to our right, we can just about glimpse Pitve through the trees. It’s a spectacular panorama. A few of us settle down to paint, while others wander around taking photos. It’s peaceful here, though I find the wind a bit troublesome as I try to hold my paper down to paint!
Tonight’s dinner is with Lui and Dragana, who have a walled field near Vrboska, on the Stari Grad plain. There they grow their own vegetables, figs, olives and of course, grapes for wine. We are treated to a Dalmatian barbeque, Right there in the field as the sun sets. For dessert, there is a special cake, as one of our artists has a birthday tomorrow! What a lovely evening!
I wasn’t too happy with my sketches of grapes in the vineyard, but here is my painting of the view over Svirče and the terraced vineyards from Vrisnik, done later from photographs:
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