Ask any local from the island of Korčula and he/she will tell you straight away that Marko, not Marco, Polo, the globetrotting merchant, cartographer and author who straddled the 13th and 14th centuries, hailed from their picturesque, forested isle out in the Croatian side of the Adriatic Sea.
On the other hand, if you ask a Venetian, any anonymous Venetian, he/she, without blinking an eye, will claim Marco, not Marko, Polo — BFF with Kublai Khan, by the way — is one of La Serenissima‘s favorite sons.
And, that’s the great, ongoing Italo-Croatia debate that lingers on this sun drenched island like an endless summer’s day. If you have time to wrestle with it, be my guest. I think I’ll pass and leave this tug-of-war to scholar-historians while I enjoy my next photo shoot.
Joined at the hip with the rest of the “band of merry media,” 18 travel writers and photographers invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to sample a portion of its Bosnia and Dalmatian Riviera itinerary, we follow Neda, Insight’s local expert guide, up the 19th century Grand Staircase, past the 15th century Revelin Tower — sporting the emblematic winged lion of the Venetian Republic — through the 14th century Land Gate and into the historic center of Korčula Town.
“The streets on the western side were built straight,” Neda tells us, “in order to open the town to the summer Mistral wind, while the eastern-sided streets were curved to minimize the cold, Bora wind of winter.” Clever.
Surrounded by rocky ramparts, once the town’s first line of defense against would-be invaders attacking by ship across the deep cobalt-blue sea, Korčula is sprinkled with great architecture and camera-ready views.
Marko/Marco Polo may or may not have been born here, but the influence of the Most Serene Republic of Venice is openly on display, in style and naming rights, like the town’s lesser-known St. Mark’s Cathedral.
And, not surprisingly, there’s Mr. Polo’s tower house, supposedly where he was born, transformed into a museum.
Oh, did I mention that Insight’s signature hotel for our stay on Korčula is none other than the four-star Marko Polo? And, the great debate continues.
For complete information on Insight’s premium and luxury-escorted itineraries, including 113 journeys across Europe, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
There’s more to the Adriatic’s sixth largest island as we’re about to find out shortly when we mount bikes and pedal our way out of town and go deep into Korčula wine country for some cheese and Grk.
Care to join us?
©The Palladian Traveler