Croatia in my heart: small places make it special

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By Ane Strazicic Rodriguez

Next month, February 3, the biggest day of the year in Dubrovnik will be celebrated again when for the 1,050th consecutive year the feast of Saint Blaise (Sveti Vlaho), the patron saint of Dubrovnik, is celebrated.

The feast of Saint Blaise is on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of the world and in Croatia it has lasted continuously from 972 to the present day. It is celebrated throughout Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which is the territory of the former famous Dubrovnik Republic.

For the feast of Saint Blaise, on February 3, representatives from all over the department come with church flags and folk costumes in procession to Stradun, where they will pay homage to their saint, their protector, in front of the Saint Church. -Blaise. Blaise, pray and be grateful for the protection in the past and for the future for themselves and their loved ones.

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The feast of St. Blaise we can rightly say is the feast of the Holidays, and we the people of Dubrovnik, no matter what part of the world life has taken us to, will worship and celebrate St. Blaise. , because for us it means freedom and independence and love for our city of Dubrovnik and the whole region of Dubrovnik.

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When you go to Croatia and when you go to Dubrovnik and you see all the beauties of the most beautiful city in the Mediterranean, the Pearl of the Adriatic, try to see other parts of the famous Republic of Dubrovnik.

As you walk along Stradun, Dubrovnik Walls, enter all the beautiful churches, museums, Rector’s Palace, Sponza, have a coffee at the City Café, swim in Porporela and enjoy cultural events, especially the festival summer of Dubrovnik, try to stop at the Croatian War Invalides club, talk to these wonderful people who gave their all for Croatia’s freedom, because every visit and every beautiful word is a balm for their wounded heart and their tormented soul.

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When you go up to Srđ from where one has a divine view over Dubrovnik, go up to the fortress of Srđ, which was the last line of defense of this beautiful city, and which is today the military museum of the homeland war.

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To really experience the southern Adriatic and the Dubrovnik region, you need to start from Konavle. The direct air connection between New York and New Jersey and Dubrovnik is fantastic. You will arrive at Čilipi Airport in Konavle. When you are already in Konavle, start from the beginning of Croatia, swim in Prevlaka, the beautiful Molunat and one of the most beautiful beaches on the Adriatic, Pasjača.

Visit Sokol Grad – a fortress museum – which protected the Republic of Dubrovnik from enemy attacks. Follow the paths of the Stećak tombstones and the Church of St. Barbara. The Konavle Homeland Museum with traditional Konavle embroidery and costumes that have been preserved and continued to be made of silk, although everything was burned and destroyed during the Homeland War when Konavle was occupied by terrorists Serbo-Montenegrin Chetniks and the JNA.

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Taste specialties from Konavle houses, vineyards, famous Konavle palace, Koraćeva house and Monković vineyards. Don’t miss the cellars and vineyards of Konavle which also rose from their ashes after the Homeland War when all the vineyards burned down including the famous Dubrovnik Malvasia which everyone now produces like Dubrovnik Cellars, Miljas Winery, Crvik Winery, Miličić Winery, Karaman Winery and other Konavle winemakers and which is still one of the most famous wines alongside Mali Plavac and Posip, the most famous wine from the Dubrovnik region. And finally, dance the LINĐO and the Konavle kolo.

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Do not miss Rijeka Dubrovačka and beautiful little places, Zaton Mali and Veliki, Slano and Trsteno, where there is a 15th century Arboretum which occupies a special place among the ancient parks of Dubrovnik, Dalmatian and Mediterranean.

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When you arrive in Ston, a small town known for its salt, oysters and the second largest fortified wall in the world after the Great Wall of China, you come to the start of the Pelješac peninsula, which is certainly the kingdom of famous wines, Mali Plavac, Dingac and Postup and Posip.

Proof of this is the fantastic Wine Museum – House of Wine Tradition – House of Wine – Putniković. Famous cellars – Miloš Winery with wines sold only after 10 years of maturation, EDIVO – Navis Musterium – Wine from the depths of the Adriatic Sea, the famous cellars and cellars Matuško, and above all a visit to Bura – Mrgudić Dingač and Postup, which have long known to lovers of fine wines in America and around the world.

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It was a pleasure to listen to lectures on viticulture on Pelješac Peninsula from Dingač Queen Marija Mrgudić, who successfully runs Pelješac Dingać Wine Empire with her family. Dingač vines grow on sparse rocky soil at a 60 degree angle that slopes steeply to the sea on the south side of Pelješac overlooking my home island of Mljet, where there is less than a kilo of ripe, sweet and black grapes. with small grains Dingač and which nowhere else in the world does not prosper but only here, in this small space.

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Opposite Pelješac, where the Pelješac Bridge begins, there are many vineyards, including the Komarna winery, whose wines are also popular with wine lovers in America.

Also don’t miss the nearby island of Korčula, also known for its excellent Grk and Pošip wines, the birthplace of Marco Polo and the late great singer Oliver Dragojević.

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Sail to the island of Lastovo and dive into the most beautiful depths of the natural park of the archipelago of islands of Lastovo Glavati which shares the same distance from Lastovo, Korcula and Mljet and enjoy the underwater world rich in fish and lobsters on the Adriatic. Then end the cruise to the Elaphiti Islands from Dubrovnik and finally come to my magical island of Mljet which is home to the oldest natural water park in the Mediterranean, because you will be staying there most often.

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It is a special feeling to come home, to sit on the terrace under the pines and when the rangers of Mljet National Park greet me from the sea front and ask me if I need anything , or the nearby restaurant Pomena. Dubrovnik singer-songwriter sings famous song Moja Ane Danish broji and everyone toasts when I arrive. From the Adriatic restaurant comes an octopus under the bell (ispod peke).

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The view over my small town of Pomena, full of yachts and cruisers whose guests enjoy the Dalmatian specialties of Pomenarski Konoba and its restaurants, is proof that my Mljet is one of the most important tourist destinations.

You cannot be bored on Mljet, this will surely be explained to you by my daughter, Michelle, an American who decided to live on Mljet after studying at RIT. Walking, swimming and cycling or kayaking around the Mljet lakes is a vacation for the soul.

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Swim and snorkel in the cave of Odysseus and its beautiful beaches, Vale Sutmiholjska, Saplunara and Blace will take you back to the legends of Odysseus and the nymph Calypso, Saint Paul, the Romans and Teuta, queen of the Illyrians.

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Enjoy the delicacies of the konobas and restaurants of Mljet, and try the wines of Mljet Meleda and Melita Winery from the Hazdovac family and finally head to the magical island of St. Mary, a former 12th century Benedictine monastery and you will realize that you are in Heaven.

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But most important is the mutual cooperation between us emigrants from Mljet and Dubrovnik, of which we are very proud and which could serve as an example for Croatian emigrants from other parts of Croatia. We just have to ask ourselves what we can do for our region, how we can promote it or through humanitarian actions help where it is needed. As our poet from Mljet Ivan Bamba Čumbelić says, we, the emigrants, are the best promoters and ambassadors of our beautiful homeland, Croatia.

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It is a pleasure to feast and bring together friends and relatives, taste the delicacies and fine wines of the Dubrovnik area and have fun with the wonderful young Mljet of KUD Natko Nodilo.

We should be proud of the safety of Mljet and Dubrovnik-Neretva County, both in terms of fires, crime, but also because it is a healthy and safe area for the environment and therefore this year has been one of the counties most visited by foreign tourists, especially Americans who are at the forefront of nautical tourism.

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Every visit to Croatia is special for us emigrants and for me this year has been very special. The feeling when I climbed the Pelješac Bridge with my friends is indescribable. It is a feeling of love and belonging to my beautiful country Croatia. This beautiful story from southern Croatia is part of the congratulations to Saint Blaise who watches over us all. Long live Saint-Blaise.

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Documentary ‘Ane Mljećka’

From July 28 to August 8, a documentary with the working title “Ane Mljećka” was filmed on Mljet as part of the production of folk and traditional cultural broadcasts of the Department of Cultural Program of Hrvatska radiotelevizija (HRT).

In the proposal of expert associates Julija Kaleb and Marija Mrgudić to make a film about Ane Strazicic Rodriguez Mljećka, who has lived and worked in America from an early age, and on both sides of the ocean everyone knows her as Ane Mljećka , humanitarian and promoter of Croatia to the world, editor Ljiljana Šišmanović and director Davor Borić recognized a film of universal value which, portraying a woman and an island and their indestructible bond, speaks about traditional culture and all the challenges of its preservation in the modern world.

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The personality of Ane Mljećka, her skills and knowledge, her culinary skills, her enthusiasm and her commitment to preserve the traditional values ​​of the island, are the initiators of the action that accompanies Ane Mljećka in her daily life in Mljet during several summer days, and the day before and during the 41st South Dalmatian Regatta where she welcomes the participants in her komin, under a pine tree in the courtyard of her parents’ house in Pomena.

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The film’s premiere on HRT is scheduled for September 2022. The director of photography is Dušan Vugrinec, sound engineer Dario Mačešić, lighting master Damir Staneković, driver Krešo Gršić, assistant director Žaklina Komljen, producer Filip Marešić, the screenwriters are Ljiljana Šišmanović and Davor Borić, the director is Davor Borić and the editor is Ljiljana Šišmanović.

James C. Tibbs