Three centuries after his death, nearby residents (fleeing more invaders) locked themselves behind the palace walls. The Cathedral and Diocletian’s Palace, with its narrow lanes and broad squares, has been home to Split’s citizens ever since.
There had been more than a little murder and mayhem during Diocletian’s reign. The man who took my 10 kuna ($2) entrance fee enjoyed talking about his city’s unsavory early resident. “Evil and ruthless” are words that come to mind.
We discovered a superb area of stalls selling mostly hand-made items such as jewelry, candles, paintings, and embroidered goods just off the Riva entrance to the Palace. This is a must for anyone interested in native crafts.
Election billboards, very much like in America, lined the highways. I pointed this out. Isn’t this a good thing? Most Croats of the older generation have long memories. “It’s just Communists reinventing themselves,” they grunted.
Kanoba signifies a Croatian restaurant featuring local food and recipes. It’s where the locals go. Grilled fish (riba) and a Croatian sausage, (cevapcici) quickly became my favorites. Dalmatian prosciutto (prsut) and sharp cheese known as pasky sir were served as appetizers. The local red wine, plavac mali, is superb.
Food is not inexpensive due to the rise of the Croatian economy and the decline of the dollar. Another restaurant worth trying is the Tifani, again built into the Diocletian Palace. Every restaurant has a sign stating: Book of Complaints at the main desk.
The island of Vis has been the history of my family, the Zitkos. We boarded the Jadrolinija ferry on the Riva, for the two-hour ride to Vis. Our ferry, with three restaurants and two coffee bars, looked more like cruise ship than a ferry.
Tito had declared Vis off-limits and situated his army there until 1989. You can still see remnants of barbed wire fences. The road (we rented a car) between Vis town and Komiza is covered with wild rosemary. You can not help but get out…just to breathe the air.
If You Go to Split, Croatia:
How to get there: We flew to Frankfurt, then to Split on Air Croatia. We found Air Croatia to be terrific.
Where to stay: Hotel Peristel, Polijana Kraljice Jelene 5 $150 double. If you stay 3 nights or more, you can choose: 10% off your bill, or nightly dinner. Roof terrace in the summer months.
Where to eat: Konoba Varos, Ban Mladenova 7 Entrees around $15.
Tifani (part of the Peristil Hotel) Poljana Kraljice Jelene 5 Entrees $10 to $30
Poseidian, just off, the Peristyle Cozy. Only four tables. Owner brings out fish for presentation before he cooks it.
Shopping: Don’t overlook the daily market place alongside the Palace.
Language: English is widely spoken.
Note: Finding these places can be tricky. Start with the Riva entrance to the Palace. Walk through the tunnel and up the stairs to the Peristyle Square. Everything is no more than a minute’s walk away. The entire Diocletian Palace, shops, hotels, and restaurants is a pedestrian zone.