Delicious local flavours in Southern Italy

We have always enjoyed delicious local favours in Southern Italy though continue to be amazed at just how easy it is to find wonderful local produce and restaurants serving delicious local flavours.  Our last visit through Puglia, Basilicata and Campania was no exception and the variety and quality of the flavours amazed us again.

Having taken the ferry from Dubrovnik to Bari we journeyed south west across Italy through Puglia and Basilicata then turned north, along the coast, and through Campania. The scenery varies from barren to dramatic, lush to picturesque but what does not seem to falter is the fact that you can stop in any town along the way and you will find good food from amazing local produce with wonderful flavours.

We’ve travelled from Bari west before so we took a windy route through the hills in Puglia to see something new.  Mile after mile we passed through valleys where every inch of the land was green with farmed crops and at the corner of many of these vast fields, abandoned, beautiful old farm buildings made redundant now by mechanised farming and large cooperatives.

First stop, desperate for coffee after our 6am start off the ferry, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere without a town or village in sight, we came across a tired looking roadside café with just a few builders’ and road workers’ trucks parked outside.  As we opened the door we were hit by the most amazing smell – fresh baked bread and cooked tomatoes. Risorante Il Rifugio really was a wonderful refuge, behind the old bar wooden shelves were stacked with huge fresh rustic loaves, locally made Tartalli (savoury biscuits made with olive and white wine instead of butter), local jams and chutney as well as wines.

Rustic bread south italy

We resisted the massive, fresh-made, crusty panini filled with cured hams and mozzarella that the builders were enjoying but welcomed ourselves to Italy with classic espresso’s after buying provisions for later.

Next stop, lunch in Basilicata, the landscape around Potenza was a mix of farming and industry and predominantly modern building with not many places to eat. Finally at the edge of a modern but scruffy looking town a pizzeria hidden behind a shop selling mozzarella.  We ventured in to find two uniformed policemen and a few people in smart business dress enjoying large plates of pasta.  In our shorts and flip flops we too enjoyed wonderful pasta with fresh porcini mushroom and mozzarella sauce.

On to Campania where the road was lined with Buffalo farms many selling Mozzeralla direct. We chose one at random principally because it had Buffalo in the field next to the car park.

Buffalo Mazzarella Italy

Behind an unassuming door in the farm’s immaculate courtyard we found the Caseificio (Creamery) where a queue of people with shopping baskets were busy placing their orders, the lady in a white apron disappeared into the creamery behind and emerged to pass over the counter various sized bags of water filled with various sizes of delicious looking white Mozzarella balls.  When our turn came, we ordered Bocconcini, small mozzarellas about the size of eggs, and carried our prize away like a goldfish from the funfair.

Stylish Mazzarella farm Campania Italy

Through another door a stylish, air-conditioned cafe hid where a couple of tourists in shorts and flip flops like us mingled with Italians in business dress evidently on lunch break.  Though there were artisan breads and cakes filling the shelves, we were all after the same thing; ice-cream and yoghurt made from Buffalo milk. A worthy alternative to classic Italian ice-cream, not as rich but bursting with a fresh milk taste.

Now on to somewhere we know already, the Caseificio and Buffalo farm next to the ruins in Paestum where we know we can camp with our camper van for the night in their olive grove and taste some of their amazing local produce.

Caseifiecio Paestum Mozzarella Italy

In the garden next to the shop we feasted on a 500 gram Mozzeralla, Bocconcini with prosciutto crudo and very simple but extremely tasty tomato salad (sliced, fresh plum tomatoes, sprinkled with rubbed oregano and drizzled in olive oil – all from the farm).  Oh yes and a deep, ruby red Jungano wine from the farms vineyard, full of silky blackberry and vanilla flavours.

The next morning we watched the Mozzerlla and Bocconcini being made…

Production of mozzarella bonconcini

…before a run on Paestum beach in the hot morning sun, which was a memorable but rather painful experience due to our feast of wonderful wine and Mozzarella cheese.

We were late setting off to continue our journey and our bellies called lunch shortly after Naples.  Leaving the motorway at Capua; our hearts sank as we entered what felt like no-mans land, a military town with scruffy industrial buildings on the outskirts.  We trundled down street after street trying to see a glimpse of lunch, eventually we spotted a little sign over a door ‘Trattoria Antica’, it seemed our only option.

On tables by the bar a few people enjoyed plates of pasta as they watched The Simpsons on a small tv on the wall, a strange combination but the food looked good so we took a seat in the other room next to a few men who looked to be discussing business over their pasta. We listened discreetly but as we often find in southern Europe, their noise and gesticulation could have been arguing, agreeing but one thing we did understand was their enthusiasm about the food.

Trattoria Antica Capua Italy

They downed their espresso and left us to our simple yet delicious food; freshly made pasta with wonderful ingredients expertly combined to make the sauces.  My seafood pasta was piled high with mussels and clams with a tomato sauce that tasted like it had been infusing and simmering for days to get such an intense flavour and Adam’s simple sounding Spaghetti Pomodoro was perfectly seasoned and packed full of flavour.

Our schedule meant that we had little time left in Italy and after a long day on the road we chose the location for our last overnight camp, on the recommendation of friends who live in Rome, Sabaudia on the west coast just south of Rome.  A little touristy, as our friends had warned, particularly near to the pristine sandy beach dotted with cool beach bars, beds and umbrellas but overall an intriguing and  beautiful place.

Over leisurely morning coffee watching the sun rise over the lagoon, we recalled the amazing food we had had the day before and suggested it was almost inevitable that during the course of the day to come, we would have a similar experience in some unexpected place somewhere.

Sunrise over Sabaudia lagoon

We walked back across the lagoon into the town itself, very sleepy on a Saturday close to the end of the summer season.  In a street off the main square we came across an amazing delicatessen, packed to the rafters with an array of local produce and with tables outside suggesting we may find lunch there.  It looked like the shop had been the same since the 1950’s, there wasn’t a menu, the lady simply told us all she had available that day which was pretty much anything you could possibly desire.  A normal occurrence, it seemed, for several locals who nonchalantly took tables inside and sat chatting to each other or their dogs and reading newspapers until their delicious lunches arrived.

Sitting outside in the sunshine, we were treated to a huge plate of mixed cured meats, marinated, grilled vegetables and fresh crusty bread, simple and simply not reproducible in the UK.

delicatessen local produce sabaudia Italy

After these days exploring Italy, punctuated by delicious, conversation-stopping, local produce our eyes, taste buds and bellies were completely satisfied and full (for now).  We slept, one last night in Italy, dreaming of ruby red wines, the complex flavours of cured meats and melt in the mouth Mozzarellas.

We have travelled a lot in Italy and always we marvel at the unassuming ability to convert local produce into fantastic yet simple food with incredibly rich and distinct flavours. It all seems so natural and effortless, not food for special occasions, just food for every day.

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Life at a difference pace in Lumbarda, Croatia

Though it doesn’t come naturally and didn’t feel right we felt we should try life at a different pace, a slower pace for just a while and Lumbarda in Croatia was the place to try it. We both notice how we tend to live and travel at a fast pace and we recognise we can skim over and past places rather than taking the time to get under the skin of a place, to get to know it better.

We are hungry for adventure and new discoveries yet at the same time wanted a place that would force a more relaxed pace of life and to have adventure and discovery on a smaller and different scale to normal.

Living in flip flops but attached to our laptops our requirement was; a place where we could connect easily to balance work with wonderful views, sea to swim, places to walk or jog, enjoy great food and wine and generally enjoy getting to know the place and perhaps ourselves a little better.  A tall order but we were confident that Lumbarda, on Korcula island in Croatia, could fit the bill.

Lumbered Harbour Croatia

Sonja at Camp Vela Postrana greeted us with tired looking eyes but a big smile, the summer had been busy and very hot and she admitted she was happy but exhausted. She was pleased we had returned In September, her favourite month when everything was all a little quieter, the sea was warmer and she said with enthusiasm brightening her eyes ‘you’ll see the sea and the sky are different colours, it’s beautiful!’

At the camp site we had wifi and views to the mountains on the Peljasac peninsula, it is staggering distance to places to eat and drink and a short meander to the sea in pretty much every direction.

For several days we woke to blue skies and had a run up through the vineyards or along the coastline to the next bay. One of us would pick up breakfast at the bakers on the home straight; we found that you have to get to the tiny shop before 10am or she sells out. Once we figured out the required routine we enjoyed some wonderful fresh bread and local pastries like Burek Sir (a little like the Greek cheese pie Tyrikopita) and, after a few visits, even a welcoming smile from the shy lady.

In the summer we had seen tiny pips of grapes emerging in the vineyards and now large bunches of red and white grapes weighed down every branch. One morning we were overtaken by a tractor and several scooters laden with empty crates as families busily began to harvest the white grapes. Having waited and watched patiently all summer it seemed the whole town was out lending a hand and joining in the jovial chatter as crate after crate emerged from the leafy rows covering the hillside.

Walking through Vineyards Croatia

As we walked back down lane on our way home we were surprised when one of the men called to us and beckoned us over. The smile creasing his rugged and weathered face showed he was pleased with their harvest as he passed us each a bunch of grapes straight from the vine. We enjoyed our little piece of the harvest as we strolled down the lane; tiny, juicy and delicious you could taste the flavor of very local and unique Grk white wine that these grapes will create.

The following day on our jog we saw the harvest was complete and the vineyards were quiet again. We skipped breakfast planning to enjoy a lunch of local cheese, Prsut (Croatian Proscuittio) and Grk wine at the Posip winery as we had last visit however the terrace, normally set up for hungry and intrigued tourists to taste their wonderful local produce, was completely taken over by crates of grapes and shiny grape crushing equipment. The man who had passed us the grapes the day before didn’t mind breaking off his work to pour us a glass of everything they make including some wonderful fig liquor.

Lumbarda sunset croatia

Croatians can come across as quite austere and, at first at least, don’t seem friendly because they don’t seem to smile very often or be very chatty. Perhaps this impression can be explained more by shyness and the difficulty of trying to make conversation in several European languages depending on who decides to take a seat at your table. Germans, Italians and English seem to be the most numerous visitors and you very rarely hear anyone trying to speak even a little Croatian. More often than not once you break the ice with a few, probably very badly pronounced, words of Croatian and a smile of your own they warm up and normally happy to teach you a few more words so that you can surprise the next person you meet.

Croatian cypress avenue church KorculaSo after chatting for a while with the men at Posip winery, using English, a little terrible Croatian and basic German, we bought several bottles of Grk white wine (which may or may not make it all the way back to the UK before we enjoy them) and we left with a warm glow inside and out.

We found it surprisingly easy to settle in to a routine and leisurely pace of life in Lumbarda…most days we wandered along the coastal promenade for a swim drying off in the afternoon sun.

We explored to the very tip of the island and spent an afternoon lazing in the quiet bay by the light house where an unmarked memorial cross made an unusual foreground to the coastal view…

Lighthouse lumbarda

We walked and, much to our own amazement, on another day jogged the 8 mile round trip into Korcula old town and back.

Korcula old town Croatia

We were warmly welcomed back to restaurants we had visited before and discovered new places where the food, the views and the welcome were equally amenable.

We enjoyed live music in the bar by the harbour that attracted more locals than tourists and spent quiet evenings, just the two of us, by our camper van, never boring of the inky black night sky. We listened to the murmur of the village across the field knowing that most of the chat and laughter was that of locals not the very few tourists who were lucky enough to choose September in Lumbarda.

Our little Mediterranean oasis had not disappointed and before we knew it a week had disappeared!

Enjoying our harvest of fruit and time…

After our travels in Europe, we promised ourselves a little time to simply sit (reasonably) still and enjoy our house and garden, enjoying our harvest of fruit and time I suppose.  Since we enjoyed most of the last year with the house as a building site, living a tent in the garden, and of course the last couple of months living in our camper van this time within four walls would be quite novel.

As you may gather from our previous blogs we do not find sitting still particularly easy; we are most relaxed making, doing or seeing something however we are always open to new experiences so we thought we’d give it a go.

It’s been great to take time to reflect and look back, thinking about where we were this time last year with all possible mod cons in our cosy tent in a corner of the garden…

building site camping

watching the house transform from 60’s bungalow to building site (this is the view from our tent in August last year) as we enjoyed the harvest of plums each morning from our trees hanging directly above the door of our tent…

Building site view last year

and eventually to the contemporary home that we had envisaged when we first set out on this adventure (the view from where the tents were now)…

renovated house view oxfordshire 2015

We’ve been thoroughly enjoying this time and space spending a whole afternoon in the garden picking plums and the evening eating or stewing our bountiful harvest of fruit…

Picking Green gages for cheese plate

Our garden was previously part of a priory orchard and therefore we are privileged to have several plum and apple trees as well as an ancient pear tree – sadly no longer producing fruit but a striking looking gentleman who looks like he is protecting the younger fruit trees with his gnarly old arms…

Dendritic Ancient pear tree

It took time but we got a great fruit harvest; Victoria, Mirabelle, Damsons, Greengages and wonderful yellow and pink ones (bottom left), delicately sweet with a wonderful soft texture, that we don’t know the name of (answers on a postcard please!) …

fruit harvest

We then spent a day bottling last year’s Damson Gin (and drinking a little of in our very own Gin / wine tasting), stewing (and eating) many of the plums we had harvested.  With our creative juices flowing as freely as the plum juices we then spent several hours cooking our favourite, delicious curries to enjoy that evening.  We walked off our bountiful feasts over the the following days with peaceful walks across the fields and around our stunning and mesmerising local town of Oxford.

Damson gin and curry

Admittedly we haven’t quite managed to simply still still but, from our point of view, these few days have been a very decadent but much needed and healthy (emotionally and physically) use of our fruit and time.

Vines, wines and beaches in Bordeaux region

We were rewarded with vines, wines and beaches in the Bordeaux region after a long drive from Languedoc. Over the Massif Central with a lunch stop in Roquefort (home of the wonderfully creamy blue sheep’s cheese and a must for foodies and cheese lovers!) brought us to our friends already settled in a nice rural campsite at Rauzan just outside of Bordeaux. Roquefort cheese and mountains Our travels, over the next days, around Bordeaux and Medoc regions taking in as much as we could of the vines, wines and beaches of this fascinating area.  Some places such as Saint Emilion surprised us with its many fairy tale chateaus surrounded by a carpet of vines all set up for wine loving tourists… Bordeaux chateau and the medieval town centre, though busy, had some quiet, romantic places. Medieval and romantic St Emilion Pomerol and St Esteph were particularly disappointing with a distinct industrial feel between the few more ordinary chateaux.  The wine never the less was wonderful and of course we took advantage of the abundant wine-tasting and tasted and bought as much as we physically could. Bordeaux vines near St EmilionBut our direction now was north and home.  Already desperately sad to be gradually losing the heat and the sunshine we shivered outside the van in the evening though it was still 22 degrees. A check of the map and the weather forecast suggested we may be able to enjoy a view of the sea and warmer weather if we lingered in Medoc.

The beach at Soulac sur Mer is a vast sandy beach, stretching as far as you can see north and south and looking west to the Atlantic. White tops were being whipped up by the back drop of a stormy sky when we arrived so an afternoon for wrapping up and strolling rather than beach bathing. Edge of storm no beach todayThe dark storm that threatened on the horizon never quite reached us… Storm approaches on beautiful Soulac Bordeaux beach we suspect that us spending half an hour in the blustery wind putting up our canopy, much to the amusement of our fellow ‘camper-vanners’, turned its path.  Much like if you take an umbrella or water-proofs on a day out you can guarantee it won’t rain and if you brave changing into t-shirts and shorts, the sun simply disappears.  The canopy did keep us warm though as we enjoyed our hearty stew with a big fruity Bordeaux.

Exploring the coast of the peninsula the next day with the storm clouds hanging stubbornly over Brittany to the north… storm clouds build above Brittany France our walk took us to a great fish restaurant by the port at Verdon sur Mer where we finally got around to enjoying the great feast of seafood that we had been yearning for since deep in the Mediterranean south. French seafood platter Verdon sur mer Rising early, but certainly not with the sun, we’d enjoyed far too much Rose for that, we made our melancholy way to the ferry to Royan and north to Normandy.  We hoped to have time to explore the area of the 1944 World War II beach landings on the Normandy coast.

Enjoying Piemonte hills and Languedoc wines

We wanted to be sure we had time to enjoy the Piemonte hills and Languedoc wines.  We needed a quick dash across France after our relaxing days in Rome so that we could arrive in Bordeaux in time to meet up with friends at the start of their summer long travels through western France and Spain.

First one last stop in Italy, in the Piemonte hills above the coast between Genova and Ventimiglia.  We never seem to learn and made the mistake first of thinking that we could find somewhere in one of the coastal towns but after slow progress through traffic along the coast road and stopping outside several camp sites that looked more like camper storage places, we admitted defeat and headed to the hills.

At Campsite Terra Rossa we found a peaceful place scattered amongst the trees on a hillside, with a pizzeria restaurant below.  With perhaps only six pitches occupied, we checked if the restaurant was actually open and would the wood fired oven be producing pizzas that evening.  We were assured it would be and when we walked down the hill later that evening and rounded the corner to the restaurant, we got quite a surprise; the restaurant was packed, it looked we had found THE pizzeria in the area.  A need to wait for over an hour for a table meant we had time to enjoy more of the local wine and watch the buzz in the restaurant.  Finally the pizza chef emerged with our Buffalina and Quattro Formaggi pizzas that were fantastic, the best of the trip and certainly worth the wait.

We left Italy replete and content the following morning with our France Passion book pointing the way to a small chateau in Languedoc.  typical french farmyard vineyardMas Montel Chateau proved to be a fascinating location with wonderful Languedoc wines, we are sure we will not find easily outside of France.  We had a very informative and enjoyable wine tasting which included pretty much all of the local produce from the vineyard!  We bought as much as we could fit in the fridge in our van (the warm temperatures still meant our wines needed to be kept chilled).

The evening provided another spell-binding experience, a fairy tale place with us the only people choosing to camp there, though five spots are available in front of the rustic old chateau.

When the yard and shop closed around 6 we were left alone to enjoy the quiet space with our private view across the vineyards.  Adam inspected the vines whilst I opened our bottle of chilled white wine given as a gift from the shop…

Adam wondering when the grapes will be readyDuring the night we even had access to one of the old cellars where the generous host had set up a bathroom for France Passion visitors.

We made friends with the chateau’s chickens as they wandered around our table, disappearing into their pen just before sunset. After a wonderful picnic on the lawn, we danced in the light of the moon to Glen Miller Big Band music, no pictures of this of course but take it from us it was an evening we will cherish for a very long time.

Free camping vineyard chickens

We emerged early from our dream world with the long road over the south of the Massif Central ahead of us and the intriguing prospect of stopping in Roquefort to pick up some delicious cheese and then on to the Bordeaux region.

Roquefort cheese and mountains

Greek Ruins and Mozzarella of Campania

We knew near Paestum we could see the Greek ruins and Mozzarella of Campania but first we wanted to explore Agropoli; the medieval old town that we missed the day before as we searched for our beach hideaway and to experience it in the evening.

Our map showed a campsite in Agropoli itself but this was not to be found anywhere rather we found a great little camper place at Trentanova, just a couple of miles walk back into town and actually, with its own pleasant village where you find a great delicatessen and a bar restaurant.  Camping Trentanova was a pleasant surprise at first it looked like you would be parking in a disused industrial ground with a huge barn welcoming you to the site but the good mix of sun and shade below the Eucalyptus trees and absolutely amazing, pristine, beautifully decorated toilets, showers and washing up area made it a great base from which to explore Agropoli.

strange quiet camper stop Agropoli CilentoOur first experience of Agropoli was the day before as we had passed through at the beginning of our testing Cilento coast day. As we entered the narrow streets of the ‘new town’ at 8am it already had a charm and bustle about it.  After breakfast, coffee and Coronette (Croisant) in a friendly little bar close to the centre, we noticed a delicatessen type shop that sold mozzarella so went to investigate.  We couldn’t see any at all amongst the great selection of cheeses behind the tiny counter but the lady old us there would be a new delivery in 5 minutes.  We wandered further, buying more wonderful plump Italian tomatoes (our rule is that you can never have enough tomatoes) and returned to the little deli 10 minutes or so later to find a queue out of the door.  The Buffalo Mozzarella had arrived and the locals obviously knew that it did so every day at that time and that the early bird catches a very fresh and delicious mozzarella. We bought our precious ration and couldn’t resist just a taste of the buffalo milk ice-cream too.
Buffalo milk icecream in Agropoli Italy
After a lunch at the van of our wonderful Mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, (too much) Greek Rosé and delicious melon, we lazed in the sunshine rather than risk any crowds at the beach. Later as the sun dipped, we scrubbed up and flip-flopped into Agropoli for dinner.

It was then 9pm and the streets were full of life and intrigue. The fresh fish shop had tables outside where a few enjoyed dinner, the fruit and vegetable stores cascaded colourfully onto the street and the smell of wood smoke from the fresh baked pizza ovens filled the air. As we approached the central square, the sound of hundreds of people promenading, dining and taking in the warm night air gave the town a vibrancy we had not expected.   We strolled, mingled and had just slowed to their pace when the power to the whole town failed; screams and giggles filled the square and a multitude of mobile phone lights soon lit up the evening.  We continued slowly in the dark weaving our way through those paralysed by the dark and eventually found a little restaurant where emergency lights and gas stove meant they could still serve us a great Spaghetti Vongole (clams) and Frittura Mista (wonderful lightly battered and quickly fried calamari and little fishes).

The lights came back on again a few hours later allowing us to find the way up to the old town and explore the cobbled streets, a beautiful and intriguing place but still packed with people at midnight.  A fascinating evening to end our few strange days and now we had seen (sort of) Agropoli and the old town, it was time, we both agreed, to leave the Cilento Coast and head north. Not an easy decision as any direction north now meant closer to home.

Now for Greek ruins and the Mozzarella of Campania! One last brief stop in Paestum to buy more Mozzarella the following day turned out to be very fortuitous. As we pulled into the driveway of the farm directly opposite the amazing Greek temple ruins we noticed a familiar Camper sign.  It couldn’t be that we could camp in the olive groves surrounding the Buffalo farm right next to the shop and restaurant where they serve an amazing array of Mozzarella and Scamorza could it? It could!Camper van in olive grove Paestum ItalyJust us and one more VW camper in the vast olive grove soaking up the sunshine and marvelling at the Greek ruins just a short stroll from the camper van…

Wonderfully preserved Greek ruins Italy

We toured the farm and said hello to the generous Buffalos…

Paestum Buffalo farm Italy

before a delicious feast of cheese, meats and of course wines from the farm.

Cheese feast at Buffalo farm Paestum Italy

Next stop Rome to see our friends, who have rather fortuitously found themselves living there, so in the morning we bought a huge (500g) Mozzarella, local Aglianico wine for them and filled our fridge with a few of the cheeses from the shop before, sadly now, saying goodbye the Paestum Greek ruins and to Campania.

The little wine oasis of Lumbarda, Croatia

Our rule of not going back to the same place twice has been broken again and with great results.

We stumbled across Lumbarda on the island of Korcula in Croatia, accessed via the stunning peninsula of Peljasac last year and because of our brief but wonderful experience there, we recommended it to friends for their holiday this year.

A small town with a strong sense of community and evident pride in their locality and all it produces from traditional music and dance to wonderful white wines, from fresh fish and tasty cheeses to melt in the mouth meat stews, Lumbarda and the neighboring medieval town of Korcula did not disappoint on our second visit.

The approach via the Peljasac peninsula is easy from the mainland, we travelled south passing through a curious strip of Bosnian coast, unavoidable but most welcome, with a great lunch of spit roast lamb and Cevapici at a little road side grill.

Road side grill in Bosnia

Lunch in Bosnia

Back in Croatia and onto Peljasac we avoided the tourist trap/mussel farms at Ston that we had unfortunately trapped us in on our last visit and found extremely disappointing (though admitted later that that the amazing fort there would probably make a great mooching day).  We tried to find the winery making and selling our favourite Peljasac red wine (a 15.6% Dingac with amazing fig, nutmeg and date aromas) but after driving up and down a few narrow tracks, a weathered local told us that they do not sell direct to the public anymore and so the next supermarket had to suffice.

Fertile plains near coast in Croatia

We were amazed again at the landscape of Peljasac, so vast, hilly and verdant with vineyards and olive groves in every direction yet still leaving room for wild, untouched valleys (where signed frequently warn you may see wild boar crossing!) and saving the best, most spectacular views, till the end as you drop down into Orebic.

Wild boar crossing

Orebic, our destination for the ferry to Korcula, a funny balance of lilo carrying, sun-worshipping tourists, enthusiastic windsurfers and busy locals.   Anthony Boy camping was the last option after we had investigated all others but actually turned out to be the best spot, great views of Korcula across the bay, right by the sea and lots of space for everyone. A lesson to us not to be put off places by their name!

Korcula from Orebic

We were excited and apprehensive about returning to Lumbarda but we needn’t have been at all, Sanja at Mela Postrano camping, remembered us and welcomed us again to their sunny field, peppered with olive trees and the very occasional motorhome drifting through. One star camping just as we like it, a bit like wild camping but with toilets.

Midnight drinks by the van in Lumbarda

The next few days we became so relaxed and rejuvenated by the place and the weather, we actually managed to get up and run each morning. This enabled us to see more of the locality than we saw last time. The lighthouse looking out to Mljet island, the next bay along with a nice Botnia Targa 44 motor cruiser and of course the lovely beaches, quite special before anyone arrived.

In the evenings, a national holiday meant we were treated to several charming local events, that despite being tailored for the tourists, were clearly taken very seriously and enjoyed most by the local community.  Delivered with immense pride and organisation: traditional dancing, by what seemed like the whole town, on one evening, traditional music on another, the summer Friday fisherman’s market and live music at the Beach bar on Saturday. The local band played a contemporary mix of passionate Croatian songs and some we knew, our hearts and legs finally felt like dancing.

Traditional dancers at Lumbarda

In the heart of Lumbarda is a an expanse of vineyards that produce a wonderful white wine called Grk. It’s served everywhere in Lumbarda and nowhere else, seemingly extremely restricted to the locality (the restaurants in Korcula just 4 miles away cannot sell it and none of the supermarkets sold it).  For me it is a little like Chenin Blanc, vanilla, rosemary and a little hint of oak, it really is very special. We drank it with a Lumbarda pizza with goats cheese and anchovies, all an unlikely but amazing combination and another lunchtime in a winery looking out across the vineyards to the sea and mainland mountains beyond, we enjoyed it with Prsut (Dalmatian smoked ham) and Dalmatian smoked goats cheese.

Beautiful sunset at Lumbarda

Lumbarda will always be one of our places, the clear blue water, the variety of vistas to absorb you, the food and wine, the people and the easiness of being there. I’m sure we will break our rule again.