There is no peace for students of Silvio Kastelancic, the leading name behind School of Traditional Croatian cooking in Stara Podstrana. In two-hour lesson, they are supposed to visit the gorgeous gardens on the slopes of Perun Mountain, located around ten kilometers away of Dalmatia’s capital of Split. But they are far from being exhausted by such outdoor activity. As a matter of fact, they want to roam the scenery even more, experiencing it in the way old Croats have done for centuries.
Chefs in the nature
During the course, attendees learn how to choose good mangold specimens for soparnik dish, how to cook under traditional Croatian peka roastin bell and which herbs to mix with certain ingredients. They are also instructed in arts of leading a good konoba, a traditional Croatian restaurant typical for Dalmatian region. And once the lessons are done, a true peak of experience in Stara Podstrana comes- a gastronomic nirvana situated on the heights of Perun, including a table full of local delicacies and a beautiful view of Split, Adriatic Sea and distant island archipelagos.
“The guests are thrilled and don’t stop asking questions,” Kastelancic explains the success of Stara Podstrana as an ethno-eco village. “Even the basic things, such as picking fruits, is a unique experience for them. They are fascinated with rosemary blooming, and the scent of fresh ingredients. And once they learn how to cook these things and turn them into fine delicacies, they are even happier. But the real treat comes when they actually eat the very things they harvested only an hour ago.”
Challenge of Perun
However, Kastelancic’s lessons are not the only feature of Stara Podstrana. Thanks to Tomislav Bozikovic and Zdravko Svenda who run the Tourist Board of the settlement, an off-road track has been constructed on Perun slopes. Climbers are welcome, but those in love with motor vehicles will have a chance to experience a ride in powerful quad and hard-terrain vehicles.
“The adventure begins on a local polygon, where test rides are organized. What follows is an adventure of Perun, during which attendees will experience astonishing nature and lovely sights of the surrounding area,” said Josko Soni Biscan, president of Off-Road Club from Split. “It is a physically fulfilling experience, well worth one’s time.”
Stara Podstrana Vibe
Finally, visitors can visit the old village of Stara Podstrana itself. The traditional vibe of Dalmatia can be felt with every step, followed by smiles of welcoming locals. Not all of them are of Croatian origin, mind you. Kristen Geurts from Belgium has left her native town of Geurts and settled in Stara Podstrana with her husband eleven years ago. She simply couldn’t resist the village charm.
“Etno-Eco village of Stara Podstrana has around fifty houses, some of them being accommodation estates available for rental. The whole ambient is wonderful, with a distinctively positive atmosphere. Throughout the year, you can enjoy numerous cultural manifestations, including the international poetry festival “Dobro jutro, more” (“Good Morning Sea”). And don’t forget that we also have fine art exhibitions, klapa concerts, musical gatherings and gastronomic events,” Kristen concludes with optimistic smile.