14 May 2020
This was my first trip to Croatia and the island of Korcula. After a week of scuba diving in and around the sleepy village of Vela Luka, I wanted to see the rest of Korcula. I was lucky enough to find Frano as my personal guide to take me on aan adventure I'll never forget. Frano is a local, knowledgeable about every facet of Korcula-from its history and flaura and fauna to its local culture and hidden gems. He's bright, speaks fluent English, and really listened to what I was interested in and what I wanted to do. He is everything you could ask for in a guide: accommodating, friendly, considerate, attentive, thoughtful, fun, and thorough. Frano met with me the day before of our day long tour and shared all the options we could do. He is an advanced rock climber, spelunker, and offers adventurous mountain bike trips. As much fun as that sounded, I only had a day, so I wanted to see and learn as much as I could on Korcula. Frano didn't disappoint. He picked me up with his friend and we headed out for an incredible day. Rocking out to Croatian music along the way, we visited several small towns and had VIP treatment at a beautiful local winery that was several hundred years old. We toasted with several delicious local wines served up with local figs, amazing homemade cheese, bread, etc. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. Frano knew the head wine maker and his family so we were treated well. This is the kind of 1:1 experience you never forget. We stopped by several breathtaking beaches, popped in for a swim in the warm, clear waters of the Adriatic sea. Frano taught me about the local economy, how every family would trade local caught fish, handmade olive oil, cured meats, and more with each other. I got a sense of what life was like there. Korcula is a large island, but most families know each other. It's a warm, friendly culture and I felt welcome. Frano took me to the highest point on the island. He showed me around an old fortress and then led me up to a rusted old lookout tower. He introduced me to a man sitting there. No phone. No electricity. Just a simple mattress, chair, and the most basic provisions. Frano explained to me this is how they keep an eye on the entire island for fires during the summer months. But this lookout point was used all the way back to Roman times. Speaking of which, we could see the Italian coast, just 75 miles away from that vantage point. Frano and I were engaged in such interesting conversation all day. Unlike so many guides who offer a scripted approach, this tour was customized for me. He's not rigid at all but he was mindful of time so we could hit all the places he wanted to show me. One of the highlights of the day was a hike around a hidden forest area. I think it was a state park. If you don't know where to look, you'd never find it. What was so cool about this spot is that the area around it was unremarkable scrub brush. It was hot. In the 90's. Once we made our way past that, it was like an oasis. The temperature dropped 20 degrees, the rock formations, plants, and trees suddenly changed. It was mystical. Like something out of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We had the whole place to ourselves. It was stunning, albeit a relatively small area. We walked through narrow, cool tunnels, over boulders, through winding trails, and then back out again. Thanks to Frano's knowledge of the island, I got to experience something most other visitors will never know. We ended up in old Korcula Town and Frano explained its history and architecture. He knew details about the town that made me appreciate everything I saw, like how the buildings were positioned at a specific angle and arc, so the breeze would flow into people's homes-natural air conditioning. Bottom line: Korcula has a lot to offer. It's a beautiful island with a beautiful culture and history. And there's no one better than Frano to show you around his home. To get here, you can take a ferry to Split or Dubrovnik. It's about a 2 hour trip each way. A must visit if you visit Croatia. Thanks again Frano! I will never forget our adventure.