Lastovo: isolated Adriatic island of jagged hills clad in holm oak and aleppo pine, where the sea laps sunbleached stones with tongue translucent blue.
Settled by Illyrians and later controlled by Rome, over the centuries it was destroyed by Venice for harboring pirates, joined the Dubrovnik Republic, and passed through the hands of Napoleonic France, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, to finally become a part of independent Croatia.
Unlike other island settlements, Lastovo Town faces inland. It’s stone buildings cling to a natural amphitheater whose basin is fertile with olives and vines. Earlier settlements consolidated on this more defensible site when the people abandoned piracy and turned inward to a life of agricultural self-sufficiency. That same independent spirit is still evident in Lastovo islanders today.
It’s a quiet place of lazy heat haze days sipping cappuccino and soaking up village life. Outside a café, an old man in a patched jacket shouts insults at passing youngsters: “Cut your hair Stjepan! You look like a girl!” The other old men chuckle and cough. Stjepan’s defense is to talk back in a normal voice as he continues to walk, resisting the urge to look back over his shoulder.
On Lastovo’s south side, rocky beaches and barren hills abound with hidden coves – the perfect place for a private swim. I spend my island afternoons plunged in the briny deep, or in sun-soaked sophistry on shore. At sundown, hitchhike back across to my room in Lučica – a narrow inlet of half-abandoned 15th Century stone houses, where we wash down seafood dinners with house wine. And it really is house wine – each house makes their own.