December 7, 2021 – How one small community preserves the authentic sights, scents, sounds and flavours of traditional Dalmatia by offering sustainable, all-natural holidays in the hinterland. Meet Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina.
Everything best about a holiday in Dalmatia is a gift of nature. Whether it’s the sunshine-filled days, the crystal clear seas, the fresh food on your plate or the scent of lavender, pines and herbs. These are the memories of Dalmatia that last. Timeless, inimitable, unique.
And yet, in our rush to experience Dalmatia, often we risk losing sight of these fundamental reasons for being here. Holidays in this part of Croatia are often sold by the sleek design of modern apartments, fully air-conditioned hotels and luxury villas. Here, you can choose from 50 different breakfast options and food from all around the world.
But, for those yearning to experience traditional, authentic Dalmatia, the solution is often very simple – step into the hinterland. There, you’ll quite often find Dalmatia as it always was, and as it should be.
Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina © Ivo Pervan
That’s certainly the case in the small Dalmatian municipality of Marina. Lying less than 10km to the west of Trogir, less than 40km from Split, Marina is not without a classic Dalmatian coastline. In fact, it has a generous stretch of great beaches around Poljica Bay. But, that’s just a tiny taste of what’s on offer here.
Just a short distance north, up into low lying hills, are villages that hold the true sights, sounds, flavours and scents of Dalmatia. It is a natural landscape, marked by telltale signs of agriculture – rows of vines or olive trees, dry stone walls. Of course, in these times, not everyone here still works in farming. But, many do. And, those who don’t still live in harmony with this environment. They might not plough the fields or grow their own food, but everyone in Eco-village Vrsine and many in inland Marina live at one with nature. And, that’s how they market themselves as a destination. This is what’s on offer just a few minutes back from the sea.
Eco-village Vrsine and Inland Marina
Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina © Ivo Pervan
Learn the A to Z of Mediterranean olive oil at OPG Šalov (Šalov Family Farm)
Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina: OPG Šalov
The abundance of sunlight and gently rolling slopes make this part of the Dalmatian hinterland perfect for olive groves. Three generations of the Šalov family live and work on the Šalov family farm, looking after their 650 olive trees. Some of them are over 200 years old and the family has deliberately diversified to include 50 different varieties of olives from across the Mediterranean.
This is the opposite of intensive farming, a sustainable endeavour that much reduces the farm’s footprint on the environment.
You can visit the farm to learn about olive trees and how the family make their award-winning olive oil. Of course, you get to try the finished product and in October and November, you can even help out with the olive picking – it’s all done by hand.
You can learn more about OPG Šalov here
See superfoods in miniature at Jakus Family Farm
Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina: Jakus Family Farm
Usually, you don’t see very much of the produce from Vesna Jakus’s family farm. Well, the microgreens, herbs and edible flowers she grows are very small. And also, they’re in high demand.
You’ll see leaves and flowers from Jakus Family Farm on plates at some of the fanciest hotels and finest restaurants in Dalmatia. They’re full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and flavour, making them a chef’s favourite.
Vesna grows everything using only organic and GMO-free seeds and all-natural methods. She doesn’t use energy-burning lamps. Instead, her greenhouse harnesses sunlight, retaining the heat of the day so the microgreens stay warm at night – even in winter. Some of the varieties she grows are green pea, red beets, mangold, red radish, beans, adzuki beans, sunflower and basil, all of them fed by the rainwater she collects.
You can learn more about these natural growing methods by visiting Jakus Family Farm and you can see more of what Vesna does here.
Reconnect with You at a holistic wellness and Yoga retreat
Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina: Holistic Wellness and Yoga
Brazilian Yoga and wellness instructor Sylvia Nunes left behind a high flying city career in order to move to Vrsine, where she lives with her partner Mario. But, before the move, a lot of thought went into the relocation and the repurposing of her life.
First, she visited ecovillages around the world and learned how they combined community, sustainability and wellness. The result is the holistic wellness programme that visitors can experience when staying in Eco-village Vrsine with Sylvia.
Held during the spring and autumn seasons, guests at Sylvia’s retreats will experience many aspects of the life of the village. They’ll connect with the community and the nature that sustains its members. Visitors might take part in tree planting/reforestation programmes and other ecological projects locally. Before every day’s endeavours, there are guided yoga sessions held in the peace and calm of the village’s nature.
Discover the scents, flavours and wellness properties of Dalmatia’s traditional herbs at Rozga Family Herb Farm
Blizna Gornja in inland Marina: Rozga Family Herb Farm
If your Dalmatia stay keeps you in restaurants on the coast, you might not encounter many of Dalmatia’s herbs. Maybe some rosemary or parsley on your plate, or the scent of lavender from nearby? But, if you travel further back from the shore, up into the foothills around the village of Blizna Gornja, many secrets will be revealed.
Here, herbalist Mira Rozga keeps ancient and localised wisdom alive. Her herb garden sits on the slopes of hinterland hills and in it grow many different kinds of Mediterranean herbs. These are put to use not only as flavourings in food but also in cosmetics and in health, medicine and wellness products.
You can get to know the scents of Dalmatian herbs by walking around the 30 different varieties grown in the Rozga family herb garden. And, you can learn their secret properties from Mira herself. For more information, look here.
Treat yourself to a luxurious but traditional rural stay at Eco Villa Home Sweet Home
Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina: Eco Villa Home Sweet Home
If you want to take your time in enjoying Eco Village Vrsine and the surrounding villages, a longer stay is advised. And there are few more luxurious choices for doing so than in this traditional stone house, renovated with the specific ethos of the eco-village in mind.
Eco Villa Home Sweet Home preserves the original architecture of a centuries-old Dalmatian stone house. But, it enhances its fit into today’s environment by using modern innovation. Power comes from strips of solar panelling atop the roof, there’s an extensive organic garden, furnishings made by local artisans, enough WiFi to work remotely and a pool.
The villa is available to rent year-round and you can find out more here.
Immerse yourself in nature on a camping stay at Robinson Glamping Camp Marta
Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina: Robinson Glamping Camp Marta
Holiday accommodation often feels far removed from traditional and the natural environment. At Robinson Glamping Camp Marta it’s the opposite.
You’ll fall asleep every night surrounded by the scent of lavender and herbs. When you wake in the morning, your first sight is the olive grove in which your glamping hut is placed.
The huts themselves are made from all-natural materials – the huts are made of wood, then sheltered from the sun by a canvas tent. The whole 12,500 m2 plot is surrounded by traditional drystone walls and there’s a covered picnic area and generous pool too.
Find out more here.
Taste the full and delicious flavours of traditional Dalmatian food at Konoba Donja Banda
Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina: Konoba Donja Banda
One of the greatest secrets to learn of a holiday in Dalmatia – but rarely one of the first – is that quite often, the further from the shore you travel, the better the food will be.
Peka at Konoba Donja Banda
You’ll find the flavour, range, portion size, authenticity, cost, and quality of ingredients and cooking all improve greatly when you venture inland. Whether that’s a trip up into nearby foothills or a trek to a village, town or city restaurant of the true Dalmatian hinterland, you’ll discover evidence of this time after time. Taverns have to work that much harder for a reputation when the sea view doesn’t sell the meal.
Nowhere is that more true than Tavern Donja Banda, where Roberto Nedeljko maintains the traditional cuisine Vrsine and its surroundings. All of their ingredients are sourced locally, including the olive oil and all of the wines. Indeed, many of their vegetables and herbs come from their own organic garden. Want to try traditional Dalmatian ‘peka’ – food cooked under a hot metal ‘bell’? This is one of the best places in the area.
You can learn more about the tavern here.
You can find out more about holidays in Eco-village Vrsine and inland Marina by visiting Marina tourist board website here. For more great Croatia holiday ideas, bookmark Total Croatia News travel pages here.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter