Life on the island

It was determined that people have been living on Hvar for over 5000 years. No wonder, our island is a unique and beautiful place.

Our island?

There is no civilization and people from the once famous Mediterranean world who haven't left their mark on the island. A visible and clear mark, with a recognizable purpose. Better, nicer, safer living.

The island is a symbol of separation and isolation. The sea surrounding us is our destiny. It separates us from others and at the same time connects with everyone.

Therefore islanders are a special breed. They are worth getting to know. They are hospitable, rational, tolerant, enjoying life in a special way. Isolation and the simultaneous connection with everyone is a paradox requiring from us islanders a different attitude towards life.

Especially to the original islanders. It took courage, imagination, curiosity, creativity, ability and persistence to head for an island, into the unknown. The island can only be reached by sea. It was necessary to know and master ship building and sailing as well as navigation.

Hvar is full of its history. All the immigrants, and everyone immigrated here, left a trace of their existence. With every trace, every stone, they assure us of their abilities, their good intentions and the will for a comfortable, sorted and permanent life on the island they chose.

Since the prehistoric period they all left evidence of thir good intentions. They all came to stay. They all experienced the same desire. And curiosity. An island across the sea. And they always had to demonstrate all those traits which are attributed to the islanders even today, since first you had to arrive on the island, then live there. To assimilate, and adapt. Different cultures, different languages, even races coexisted, only possible by wise and reasonable people. They lived on the island, and from the island. They all considered it their home, used it as such, defended it for the same reason and made it suitable for living and protected it for their children. The island was their life, their destiny and their freedom.

And they all did the same throughout the history. Almost all of them. Without pretenses for having a different history you can enumerate every known civilization or people of the Mediterranean, from Illyrians, Greeks, Romans through Venice, Austria, France, they all acted as if they were home. That was the history. Where ever they were was their homeland. Islanders have always jelously protected their island, and so do we. This is why all over Hvar there are cemeteries, forts, fortifications and lookout towers.

The desire to have a settled life is visible in our well designed settlements, beautiful churches, palaces, rich houses, our divided and farmed land, rustic villas.

Perfectly idyllic?

Still no, in at least two exceptions.

Of all the pople and forces who came to the island, the Turks stayed the shortest, only a few months but they have caused the most harm. They just stayed enough to destroy and burn and then left. Why?

They were the only ones who did not come to stay. However, the damage was done, which is why the island hasn't and never will be what it could have become. In about ten days they annihilated 50 centuries of work and progress.

They were the only ones who did not come to stay. However, the damage was done, which is why the island hasn't and never will be what it could have become. In about ten days they annihilated 50 centuries of work and progress.

Today, same as before, ports are the doorways into the surrounding world. They are used to come and to go, they bring some new times but the islanders know how to live with that.

Us living on the island today still recieve visitors with our natural hospitality, rationally and with tolerance. To come to us means getting an opportunity to meet our special kind, because we are the islanders.

We still haven't left, we were not yet assimilated, we have been here briefly, just a few hundred years. Our influence will be judged by the ones who come, who inherit us, as we today judge the ones who came before us. We admire and brag about what was left to us by our predeccesors. You can see all of that, we will show you everything. We live in the Mediterranean surrounding, we have preserved it, it is still possible to experience it original and untainted.

Unfortunately, the immigration is never complete, conquering is never complete, only the way it is done. Mediterraneans no longer have that mistrust, we no longer defend ourselves from newcomers, in our hospitable way we talk them into our way of living. The time of building thick walls and fortifications is over, today there are different attacks and defenses us islanders have not mastered.

And that is the other example of breaking the idyllical setting. Being like this, unaware and naive we lose our future. Deception used to plan our future will erase the Mediterranean within us and in our environment.

So this is the final opportunity to come and feel this island which is still Mediterranean as it once was and its people who are still Mediterranean, even though nobody cares except themselves.

In a few years it won't matter where you go. You will find the same things everywhere. Same houses, same food, same people, luxury, and the Mediterranean will have left the island of Hvar.

So come now, while the island is ours, of us islanders, Mediterranean people. You can still hear our good music, drink our wine, eat our fish and feel our hospitality!


Ranko Avelini, prof.