In fall 2014, when tourist season ended up I started to explore Brač in more detailed manner. The reason is very simple on the island you do not have anything to do “smarter” than to just go out there and snoop. I was heading towards Supetar, but my car “somehow turned” to Postira. The eyes were stuck on the right side of the road in a valley that was full of trees and some fruits. Hard working people moved all over the place and little by little, I found that there is a big valley full of tangerines, kiwis and lemons. I just could not believe that I am truly blessed with the sight and opportunity to buy real organic stuff. The colors all around are in autumn’s mood and I can not believe how everything idyllic looks like.
In the distance, you can see hills with small village houses peaking the valley. First that you will notice when entering the village is that there are semi caves all over in shape that you can imagine that people or animals take some rest and have the safe place to hide when it is raining. The caves and the rocks have the rugged orange-red color. Actually, the whole place is situated between two hills and you feel like those rocky arms give a big hug to a village in order to protect it from any bad monster that would like to come along.
Hrapačuša – the stone and the cake
I parked my car just at first possible site and I grabbed my camera in order to shoot as much a possible. I feel like I am in a fairytale, a scene from long-forgotten Disney story: everything is in the very picturesque tones; old houses built-in a different eccentric crunchy stone (later I found out it is called “hrapačuša” and the same name stands for the famous original autochthonous cake that is truly special as for its production you need at least 15 eggs, kilo of walnuts and kilo of almonds!). The cake hrapačuša is also declared the protected immaterial cultural good of the Republic of Croatia. The original recipe Dol’s women keep as their own big secret, so the legend says that in the old days, these valuable hands made that cake at night, just to keep the recipe in secret. Besides its appearance (it just looks like the ragged cake) and how is made, the cake is famous that can keep its freshness for 5-6 days.
And as I happily walk through the ethno-ecco village Dol, I find myself in an interesting court, with a lot of different stuffed souvenirs and features … from a fishtail, an old wheel of a mill, old bottles to keep wine and of all the old ones placed beneath the terraces on which they grow intermingled kiwis and grape vines (so for the first time I actually can see how the kiwi grows in real!). What a good feeling! While I am shooting like a crazy, a man comes to the door, looks at me and in a moment of seeing that someone is snooping his yard, he gives me a big smile. Well, that was Mr. Tonči Matulić, the owner of Konoba (tavern) Toni. Well, from all that photo shooting I did not even realize that I am in front of the restaurant. I apologized because of intruding the property, but Mr. Tonči graciously invites me to look and to step into the tavern and look everything in a 300-year-old rustic building where wine is still produced in a very traditional way and where some long time ago olive oil was made also. A little bit dark room with a bar, and above it a “cage” for preserving prosciutto and cheese that looks like a big hanging cage and it is built in the way that simultaneously makes the products drier and protects food from bugs. Special attention drawn to me are the goat’s bellows, that were once used for carrying and transporting water and wine all over the island. Those bellows were carried mostly from donkeys. and transported everything that was liquid – water and wine, most often on donkeys.
While hearing that stories, it just hit me that I could even eat something authentic and to give myself a well-deserved treatment of exploring the new tastes. But, here comes the answer from the owner that actually the restaurant is closed. It was a real disappointment… And I was feeling very, very hungry. As almost as he could hear my thoughts, Mr. Toni invites me to eat with its wife, brother and son. It was not my intention to intrude someone’s family lunch so I politely rejected the offer. Hm… that was not the answer they wanted to hear… just like I was their family relative that they have been waiting for. So, I had them four against one… I did not have a chance…
His wife made an excellent homemade lamp soup with potatoes and with homemade bread. While eating, they are telling me all about the sights and details that I need to visit and what to photoshoot while here in Dol. After the extra delicious meal, I was ready to go with another photo shooting.
I must add – the food was extra and their hospitality is just great. After sometimes I found that this kind of hospitality of this family is not just an accident or they were in the good mood. It is their way of living. That how they treat each guest and each lost tourist.
After everything, they made me pick up a couple of kilos of tangerines in a bag that they just picked up from their own plantation! Just to have some food while exploring… I was overwhelmed…
Each time I came here, the situation was always the same… So, I need to bring some bottle of wine and chocolate just to thank them in some way!
That first time I was very sorry not to be able to taste the cake, but in the spring next year I managed to give it a shot just in this Tavern Toni. It was extraordinary!!! Although, while I had it on my plate it looked a little bit “modest” slice, and after some bites, it was very hard to finish it. I just forgot what kind of material it was made. The tones of calories!
In a couple of time when searching and exploring Dol, after 2 years from my first visit I managed to enter Citadel Gospodnetić family home of the Gospodnetić family that is also museum and restaurant.
The name Gospodnetić is an old Croatian name, mostly from island Brač. In the last century mostly people with this name were born in Split and Brač.
Area of the name – in Croatia there is about 260 with name Gospodnetić, in 110 households. In the middle of the last century their numbere increased for 30% at number about 200.
They live in 7 Croatian counties, 12 cities and 11 smaller places, and mostly in Split (70), Supetar (45), Dol (45) and Postire (40) in Braču and in Zagrebu (35).
Outside Croatia – the name Gospodnetić (that also includes: Gospodnetic, Gospodnetich) is present in 10 countries at 4 different continets including smaller number in Chille and the USA.
I had a chance to see citadel each time only from the outside. But this time, it was open and when I saw open door I slowly entered and managed to ask a little bit confused homeowners for tour guiding. (of course, they were also closed and I was a little bit out of season – again!). But, very polite Mrs. Gospodnetić took the tour with me and showed me every single part of her family house that is all in one: home of the family, restaurant, wine cellar. So, you can enjoy in the real home atmosphere. In the rooms like the time stopped: everything is almost from the period of secession from the late 19th century (watches, manuscripts, old radio, richly decorated ceramics and glasses, old photographs, couches, on the walls of old wallpaper richly decorated). Kaštil emerged as a military fortress that was used to protect from the Osman Turks in the 16th century.
As it usually destiny takes its turn, next spring, I became a friend with the owner’s daughter Miss Gospe (her nickname) as we both took the course in hiking school that was organized by the Hiking society Profunda from Brač (and that reserves also its own story). And just because of this nepotism and the promise that Gospe gave me about giving more detailed information and materials about her home, I will make just another story about Citadel Gospodnetić. At this time I did not know that I will start doing blog, so I was just taking pictures without any more journalist materials like dictaphone or paper and pen. So, I am hoping that this article will be sponsored via their famous orange cake with a little bit sour cream (or hrapačuša).
P.s. – I need to underline that Kaštil has a very small restaurant with limited chairs and tables, so you need to make a reservation. But, you will not be sorry as you will enjoy the absolutely fabulous view to the Dol valley. House and terrace have really nice details and you can say that the owners really make their effort to preserve the true spirit of some other time….
In Brač, if you do not pay attention to every corner, you can miss a detail that is very interesting. That could happen to me but the owners gave me the advise to look at the right side of the road when leaving their house, as there is an old abandoned stone apiary (those kinds of apiaries you can find at hills near Blaca hermitage). I just can imagine how organic and wonderful honey that used to be in that old times from all those rosemary, sage and other beautiful Mediterranean flowers.
In Dol you can find the true richness of varieties of domestical animals. If you peak in each corner you will manage to have some kind of magical moments with this very cute animals: donkeys, sheeps, horses, “bearded” goats, bunnies, that with some bribe (take some carrots with you) will be very generous in making selfies with you. So, be careful and very attentive to them, because they are very shy and careful little beasts but rewards can be selfies for remembering.
History and sacral monuments
The village of Dol has been mentioned back in 1345, and today there are only about 100 people living in the area, mainly engaged in olive growing, vineyards and mandarins, and with domestic animals.
Parish Church of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
At the beginning of the village, you find the parish church of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dating from the end of the 19th century and whose stone is from the stonepit nearby. It has the largest crucifix on the island called Dolski Isukrst, which represents Jesus’ body in its original size.
Church of Saint Peter – the oldest bell in Brač
The church of Saint Peter on Glavica (11th century, pre-Romanesque style) is located nearby the main street at the end of the village at a little hill. Before it, you can see the small rock and on it built an old house that looks like the scene from old western movies with the small bridge and from where you will have a breathtaking view at all Dol.
The church is famous about its bell that is the oldest in Brač. The bell is from the 14th century and has written in Latin “MAGISTER MICHAEL ME FECIT” (it made me the master Mihovil).
Church of Saint Michael on Miholjrat and the Processional paths of the Crucis stations
Once I took the road to the Church of Saint Michael. Even though Mr. Tonči, from Tavern Toni and his family, already told me about it the first time I visited Dol, the road took me there 2 years later. There is two possible way to go there: via macadam road above citadel Gospodnetić or via the Processional paths of the Crucis stations. As this second one is mainly road that is marked as the walking road up to the hill, in the almost goat road I was a little bit scared to go all by myself. Just after I found it that this is among really the biggest attraction in Dol in Holy Friday before Easter. People walk from the Church of Saint Peter for 5 kilometers up to the Church of the Saint Michel in approximately 2-3 hours with the Crucis stations in between. Also, this Processional path is famous for the special songs and special singing called “The Cry of our Lady”. I did not go yet because I was at another Processional path on Hvar, but that is another and different story.
The second way is already mentioned road that leads from the Citadel Gospodnetić. There is a spectacular view of hills, trees, olive trees… everywhere just green and peaceful environment in the oldest and the most traditional Dalmatian style nature.
The small mini-parking lot (if you could even say that it is), you leave your car and in a couple of hundreds of meters, the small path leads you to the church on the hill.
You stay a little bit surprised in the spirit that you find this place in. As if you stand in the middle of the oldest history of Croatia. The church is from 9th and 10th century. The doors of the church are made from the Roman sarcophagus and near church there are tombs that reveal the ways of the burials by the old tradition of Croatian from that period of time.
In the church, there is a picture of Saint Michael (the newer date) and at the wall, you can still find the remains of the hand-painted crosses.
When going back, on the right side there is the road that leads you to astonishing views of the olive trees that literally grow from the stone, with green up to the end of you can imagine. And then you realize that you find yourself in total peace and QUIET… almost deafened… the one that is almost forgotten. Besides your own thoughts, you can not hear anything else.
Church of Saint John
At the beginning the village, just before the entrance, you will pass first beside its cemetery that I realized that exist in the way out. Again, I stopped my car and made some small tour. It is very nice, and also there is a Church of Saint John.
With some conclusions… or not…
Unfortunately, not even one photo can not evoke the true feeling and experience that you will have after visiting Dol. Although it is so small, it leaves you with the deep emotions and leaves you totally confused how this part of heaven is not even scratched from the influence of the modern time. On the contrary, everything like it is frozen in time of some kind of romantic history. People, animals, and place live in total harmony. Their inhabitants are truly devoted to preserving that part of history and technology, watching that massive tourism does not take away that magic and fairytale.
And when we are talking about magic and fairytales, just not long time ago I did not know that only in Dol you will find viver, the mythological creature that makes even some hoots. This I need to discover in some other visits to Dol.
So, I just hope to clarify why this is mine favorite place in Brač?