September & October on Hvar
The nightclubs are closed, although the water is still divine the beaches are emptying, and there is a subtle change in pace on the island, for the focus of life in September and October on Hvar moves inland.
The first changes can be noticed on the roads. Where in peak season rental scooters are king, in the later season it is the two wheels of bicycles which dominate, for the post season is an ideal time for cyclists to discover this beautiful island.
The temperatures are more agreeable, the summer tourists are back in schools and jobs, and the fields are alive with locals hard at work.
Hvar may be famous for its tourism, but the soul of any Dalmatian is bonded to the land. Waiters and restaurant owners in August swap their posh work clothes for working overalls in September, for first the grape and then the olive harvest become the most important activities on Hvar.
Hvar has several very famous winemakers, whose wines are exported as far as China and California, but there is hardly a household on Hvar which does not produces its own domestic product, and locals can be found in their fields bringing in the annual crop. Hopes are high for this year's vintage after the disastrous 2014 harvest, which was much affected by the weather.
Just as Hvar's wines are becoming internationally famous, so too its olive oil. From gold medals in New York City to the most expensive olive oil in the world at Harrod's of London (0.2l complete with gold flakes for a mere £750 a bottle, from the Hvar village of Vrisnik), Hvar's Mediterranean Diet is an intangible UNESCO heritage, a diet backed by its quality oil.
The olive harvest is much more than the task of collecting the olives, it is an extended family bonding experience, as generations of islanders converge on the family field from their busy jobs in Zagreb and beyond to celebrate the bonds of Dalmatians to the soil. It is an experience to which visitors are welcome to participate, and if you are looking for a true Hvar experience as far from the throbbing nightlife as you can get, go and say hello to the grape and olive pickers in the fields.
It could lead you into a Hvar less travelled...
*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - Rafael Janic Photography