One popular day trip from Hvar is to visit Palmižana on Sv Klement, the largest of the Pakleni islands. Most people will be heading for the beaches, but Palmižana is much more than that. It has by far the best contemporary art gallery on Hvar, the scenery is gorgeous, and it has one of Croatia’s foremost seafood restaurants.
We visited in September, taking the excursion boat from Hvar harbour in the morning, returning late afternoon. The short journey takes around 40 minutes, arriving to the ACI Marina which in season, would be packed with the yachting set. A path through the shady pine forest takes you to Palmižana itself, nestling around the lovely Vinogradišće Bay. There are a few yachts moored here also, and tenders arrive from those too large to approach themselves.
The original resort at Palmižana is Meneghello’s, dating from 1906, when the family decided to welcome paying guests to their private summer retreat. It’s been beautifully done in a Caribbean jazzy meets Dalmatia kind of a style.
The arboretum has a rich tropical feel with palm trees, yuccas and agaves among the pines, with works of art placed here and there. Also tucked away amongst the trees, the villas and bungalows add their own rich colour. Celebrities are known to holiday here, well-hidden from prying eyes.
Owner Dagmar Meneghello is herself something of a celebrity within the Croatian contemporary art world. She’s a tireless supporter and evangelist for the avant-gard, and her restaurant doubles as a gallery, showcasing this month’s artist on every available surface. In a backroom is the private family collection of ancient Roman artifacts found on the island, as this is also an outpost of the Split Archaeological Museum.
Paths lead you through the woods to more remote bays, and along to the site of a Roman maritime villa, complete with mud baths. One of these days we’ll get to visit that! But for today, we’re just taking a leisurely stroll before lunch. Away from the shelter of the bay, the shore is quite exposed. The coastline is spectacular, with scoured rocks stepping down to the water. Amazingly, there are flowering plants nestling between the rocks! The yellow flowers are samphire (motar), while the tiny purple ones are a variety of sea-lavender.
Our lunch has been booked at Laganini’s, a very fine seafood restaurant with its own beach and boat dock, one of the coolest places to eat in Croatia. Chef Hrvoje Zirojević is known for his wonderful creativity, and we’ve been looking forward for months to this very special meal!
Laganini is a very classy restaurant, right on the seafront, stepping down from the kitchen buildings, to secluded tables for groups, to seats facing over the bay, to beach loungers right on the dockside. It’s all very thoughtfully done, so everyone can enjoy that relaxed, waterside feeling in their own way. Many of those expensive yacht tenders find their way to the Laganini dock.
Our lunch is a lovely lingering feast for the senses. The sight of the sparkling turquoise sea between the sun-dappled trees, the sound of the lapping waves and cicadas in the pines, the relaxed feel of the comfy cushions on the big wooden chairs added to the aromas and tastes of a superbly crafted meal. What an outstanding way to spend an afternoon!
One of these days we should spend overnight at Meneghello’s, visit the Roman villa, and have dinner at Laganini’s. Oh, and go kayaking among the bays. That would be a perfect way to enjoy Palmižana I think!
From the post about our previous visit to the island in 2012, called Art, nature and a very fine lunch in Palmižana – you can see that our priorities haven’t changed a bit!
More details of the wonderful Laganini lunch to follow in a separate post…
Find out more:
Art Palmižana Meneghello page on facebook