Sunday, February 05, 2006

Monday Column - Croatia Destinations 2: Trogir

If you are thinking of spending a few days absorbing the Croatian culture and lifestyle, you couldn’t find a better base than Trogir. Situated 10 minutes from Split airport and 30 minutes from Split itself, Trogir is right in the heart of the Southern Dalmatian coastline. The popular islands of Brac, Hvar and Vis are all within easy reach. If you prefer more solitude, try Solta, the South side of Ciovo island, Drvenik Mali and Drvenik Veli.

Listed as a World Heritage site by Unesco in 1997, the walled medieval town is a warren of narrow cobbled streets buzzing with cafes, restaurants and shops. The old town is separated from the mainland by a small channel. Walk across the bridge from the old town to the mainland and, on your left, you’ll find a myriad of market stalls, mostly run by Croatian matriarchs of a certain age, dressed in black, and likely to encourage you to buy twice as much as you originally wanted. Unlike Split market, not many of the stalls display prices so find out the price per kilo before you buy. Over the bridge, on the right, is the bus station where there is a regular service into Split. Directly ahead, as you walk over the bridge, is Konzum, the biggest supermarket in town, though not necessarily the cheapest. The fish market is on the left of Konzum though you’ll have to be an early riser to make the most of it.

On the waterfront, on Trogir island, the wide pedestrian “Riva” throbs with yet more cafes and restaurants and, in July and August, plays host to the Summer Festival – an eclectic mixture of folk music and dancing, rock and pop, tugs of war, classical concerts and jazz. It’s a favourite summer mooring place for the Super yachts, with Bernie Eccleston, of Formula 1 fame, being a regular visitor, so don’t expect to sail in at the height of the season and get a berth alongside the Riva.

As well as the bars, there are three pizza parlours along the Riva, ideally located for you to watch the world pass by. Mirkec Pizzeria, towards the end of the block, is as good and friendly as you will find. Heading away from the bridge, turn tight just past Mirkec and you will pass Hotel Fontana and Restaurant. Turn right along the Riva one street further (with a church on your left as you turn), and you’ll find the more exclusive Alka restaurant.

If you want good meat or fish in a cosier, more relaxed atmosphere, popular with locals and tourists alike, you can’t beat Skrapa a bit further up from Alka. Ask if you can have a look at the compliments book and check out the table decorations made from vegetables and anything else that helps to give them their phallic look!

A larger channel separates the old town from the island of Ciovo, though it’s a short walk across the so-called swing bridge which we have only known to swing once in the last two years. This is the pedestrian route back to the ACI (state owned group of marinas) marina but you can take a water taxi from the Riva, just by the school and the harbour master’s office. Ciovo is also the best place to find a good beach. They’re all pebbled and you’ll need a car to get to some of the quieter ones on the other side of the island, unless you feel like discovering some of the hidden climbs to the south side of the island. On your way to the marina, look out for Atlas Travel Agency and the Villa Sikaa Hotel on your left, and the boat restaurant on your right.

Historically and culturally, Trogir is bursting with things to see. Originally settled by the Greeks, Trogir reflects the various influences of subsequent Roman, Hungarian, Venetian, French and Austrian rule. On Trg Ivana Pavla, the three naved Cathedral of St Lovro (St Lawrence), built over a period of two hundred years by the Venetians, is one of the finest pieces of architecture in Croatia. You’ll find the tourist office in this square, signalled by a Harry Potter Bookshop board outside, but don’t be surprised if it’s closed on bank holidays. Take into account the fact that it’s a private agency.

Walking away from the Cathedral, towards the Riva, and turning right at the waterfront, you’ll come to the medieval Kamerlengo Fortress, opposite the ACI marina. It’s now used as an open-air cinema and events stage but you can also walk to the top of the towers and get a great view of the surrounding islands. The climb is not for the faint hearted though and there’s a small entrance fee payable at the gate.

Trogir is a town for all seasons. Unlike many other Croatian tourist destinations, the town has a life outside the short summer season and it’s not difficult to find restaurants and hotels open all year round. Beware though, of apartment accommodation in the cooler months, and check that it has adequate heating before parting with your cash. In July and August, you may also want to check that your accommodation has double-glazing if you don’t intend to be partying into the small hours. Traffic jams over the two bridges can be a nuisance in the summer, and if you do take a drive around, watch out for strange road priorities. There’s often a sign with a thick and a thin line on it. If you are travelling along the direction of the thick line, you have priority, even if it seems to mean turning left across a main junction!

Finally, Croatia may be the birthplace of the tie but Trogir is the home of the traditional Croatian suits favoured by such famous celebrities as Pavarotti. If you want to get a formal, made to measure, suit with a Mediterranean style all of it’s own, search out Gena at Ribarska 6 in the old town.

Trogir – Detailed Information

Approach By Boat

The bridge joining the Island of Ciovo to the small islet of Trogir rarely opens, and has a maximum clearance of 3 metres. The best approach to Trogir is therefore from the West, with the best shelter to the West of the bridge. The main landmarks to watch out for are the shipyard at the point of Ciovo island on your starboard side, and a medieval fort on your port side which is directly opposite the ACI marina. Keep to the centre of the channel to Trogir and note that there is an unlit buoy to the North of the channel, West of the castle. The channel has a depth of 11metres at the centre and 4 metres near the bridge. There can be strong currents flowing under the bridge, normally flowing west. Tides are generally not an issue in the Adriatic.

Either stern to in the ACI marina on a lazy line, or side to on the town wall opposite the marina.

ACI Marina Trogir - 180 berths at sea, 60 on land – up to 18 metres
Address: Put Cumbrijana bb, 21220 Trogir
Tel: +385 (0) 21 88 15
Fax: +385 (0) 21 88 12 58

There is little room to manoeuvre, when mooring between the piers, for yachts above 12 metres, particularly with a breeze blowing.

Facilities include a reception office, water and electricity hook ups, showers and toilets, telephones, internet café, bar, restaurant, supermarket, parking, an exchange office and a fuel station. The marina is equipped with a hoist (10 ton) and a slipway.

Town Wall Trogir
All boats coming to Trogir for berthing on the Trogir waterfront should announce their arrival to the Harbour Master's Office at least one day before arrival. The Harbour Master’s Office is on the Riva between the school and the fortress. From June to September it’s open from 0700 to 1200 and from 1600 to 2000. Outside the season it’s open between 0700 and 1300.

Harbour Master Kapetan Ante Radic
Tel/fax +385 (0) 21 88 15 08
VHF Channels: 10 & 16

Approach - By Car

Trogir is signposted both from Split to the South and Sibenik to the North. Parking is not easy in the old town and you should either park in the paying car park further past the market on the left (drive past the left turn over the first bridge) or on Ciovo island (turn left over the second bridge). The traffic officers are very efficient and will rapidly clamp or lift an illegally parked car.

By Plane

Split Airport is 10 minutes – see last Tuesday’s column for detailed information on flights.

Other Transport

The best way of getting from Trogir to other towns and cities is by coach or bus – check this out at the local bus station or a Travel Agency.

Tourist Information

The tourist office is situated in the Cathedral Square and normally has a board outside advertising the “Harry Potter” bookshop, located under the same arches. It is a private agency and ironically seems to observe all the bank holidays (ie it’s closed!).

The Trogir branch of Atlas Travel Agency is always helpful, friendly and efficient. They can arrange most things for you from car and bike hires, through accommodation, to excursions. Atlas is next to Vila Sikaa on the waterfront on Ciovo island, half way between the bridge and the ACI marina.

Tel +385 (0) 21 881 374; fax +385 (0) 21 884 744; email; website


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