Every year, thousands of foreign tourists opt to visit the beautiful Dubrovnik-Neretva County, a part of Croatia situated in the country’s far south regions. Most come to visit the magnificent City of Dubrovnik, which became internationally known after Game of Thrones and Star Wars were filmed on its premises. But territories that surround the city also have their own unique features and are well worthy of visitor’s attention. This is proven by recent Zlatna Naranca, a competitive event that aims to proclaim the best localities for rural tourism in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. In English language, this manifestation would be translated as ‘Golden Orange’. The manifestation was organized by County Officials and DUNEA Regional Agency.
This year’s award went to Seoska kuca, a rural residence in ownership of Novakovic family in Cilipi. The site primary functions as konoba, a traditional tavern that serves Dalmatian specialties such as pasticada or meat roasted under peka iron bell. Novakovics also serve delicious home-made wine and aromatic liqueurs.
But Seoska kuca is much more than a traditional restaurant. Periodically it stages live performances for its guests, usually involving dancers dressed in traditional gowns. Visitors of this notable Cilipi spot can also enjoy a small garden with agricultural exhibits and stables with live animals. A small ethno-museum is also present, and touring the family wine cellar is what comes to many as the best attraction. Musical evenings and presentations of local craft beer brands ‘Gornja i Donja Banda’ are common too.
Precisely because of these reasons, Seoska kuca was given the first prize at Zlatna Naranca. The competition was quite fierce, numbering 15 similar sites of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, but at the end Novakovic family won most points. Second place was divided among Country Home Musladin and Laptalo Agrotourism. Third prize was given to Restaurant called Lopoc in Momici village.
Located in Ljubac village, County Home Musladin excels in organic food production that has been certified for the second year in a row. Musladin family makes a wide range of products, including home-made herb spirits, extra virgin olive oil, wine, prosciutto, sausages and bread. They are always ready to prepare food for their guests, especially grilled specialties and those made under hot ash of peka bell. Once well-fed, visitors of Country Home Musladin can tour the local blacksmith workshop and little mill facilities. Folklore performances are sometimes staged for viewer’s entertainment, coupled with merry tunes of lijerica musical instrument. Members of Musladin family are quite known in the region for owning several notable restaurants. However, they track their roots to Ljubac, and the renewal of awarded country house has greatly contributed to village popularity.
Agrotourism Laptalo can be found in picturesque village called Gromaca. It gathers a number of passionate locals which safeguard traditions, customs and culinary secrets of the region. Laptalo family also has their konoba tavern, but this one comes with a rather unique feature. The attractive site has been built from the stone blocks carved back in the times of Dubrovnik Republic. This provides fascinating atmosphere of the past times, which is coupled with natural beauty of surrounding Mediterranean garden. Another notable feature is the so-called guvno, a circular threshing floor that was used by farmers to separate grains and prepare them for milling. The shape of guvno has also influenced the design of exterior pool nearby, available to guests as well as four-star apartment and souvenir store.
The third prize went to Restaurant Lopoc. Situated in tiny village of Momici in the very heart of Neretva River Valley, the locality has been welcoming guests since 1998. In addition to fine dining specialties, visitors can enjoy a sailing tour in a traditional Croatian vessel. The experience comes with degustation of eel brodeto and deep-fried frog dishes. People can also have fun next to the refreshing banks of Norin River, which allow a number of entertaining outdoor activities. To name a few, these include birdwatching, animal safari or night excursions. And those tired from everyday stress and hectic business schedules can relax their nerves by assisting locals in handpicking figs and oranges during harvest season.
In order to encourage the region’s rural tourism potentials, the jury of Zlatna Naranca has provided additional awards in competition. These are reserved for sites that contribute to authentic experience of rural Dubrovnik-Neretva County, but do not offer any kind of gastronomic hospitality services. For example, in the settlement of Gruda one can find traditional Konavle residence called Bokarica, which has a rich collection of ethnographic exhibits.
In the vicinity of Ploce, a charming Ethno village Podcempres welcomes guests across the world, while Paddle Surf Bacina will suit nature lovers who like water sports. Both of the aforementioned localities offer luxurious accommodation, and since they are owned by artists expect fine art colonies and painting lectures. Fundamentally, the jury couldn’t ignore the passionate environmentalist Vlaho Komparak of Korcula Island, whose beehives became a local attraction as much as his excellent honey products.
“Choosing which rural tourism sites will receive the award was very difficult task. All of the listed contestants were admirable and dedicated to their work. Literally every one of them excels at promotion of our county’s cultural identity, at the same time following modern trends and continuously upgrading their offer,” said zupan Dobroslavic, the chief administrator of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. “They are the reason why our guests are leaving fully satisfied and promise to return back.”
“We are very proud to receive the first prize of Zlatna Naranca, as it is an acknowledgement of our efforts,” Niko Novakovic of Seoska Kuca said during winning ceremony. “Our traditional estate is the result of many years work and co-operation with a number of influential partners. It was only because of such hard working that we won this prestigious achievement and reach the top of rural tourism sites list of the county.”
If visiting Croatia’s south, be sure to visit at least some of these fantastic destinations. The quality of their services is guaranteed by Zlatna Naranca award or jury’s official recognition. Here is a list of Dubrovnik-Neretva County’s best rural tourism sites:
Zlatna naranca 2018. – Golden Award
Seoska kuca, Agroturizam Novakovic
Bistroce 2, 20213 Cilipi
Zlatna naranca 2018. – Silver Award
Seosko domacinstvo Musladin
Ljubac 22, 20235 Zaton Veliki
Zlatna naranca 2018. – Silver Award
Gromaca 56, 20235 Zaton
Zlatna naranca 2018. – Bronze Award
Momici 24/1, 20341 Kula Norinska
Notable Finalist- Attraction
Konavoska kuca Bokarica
Tusici 38, 20215 Gruda
Notable Finalist- Attraction
Ethno Art Village Podcempres & Paddle Surf Bacina
Katici 19, 20340 Ploce
Notable Finalist- Traditional Product
OPG Komparak Vlaho
Dubrovacka cesta 58, 20260 Korcula