Smokvica (pronounced: Smok-wee-tza) is a small inland village and a municipality with just over 1000 inhabitants, located in the central part of Korcula Island and geographically oriented towards its southern shores. The village itself was built on the slopes of hills named “Vela obala” and “Mala obala” and it is located in the very center of the island, on the local road Blato-Prizba-Brna-Smokvica-Cara. Smokvica is 29 km away from Korcula Town and just a few minutes drive from its neighboring villages – approx. 4 km from both Brna and Cara.
This village is one of the five oldest settlements on the island, with a continuous human presence from prehistoric times until today. The origin of its name is still not completely discovered and understood, but there are few theories. One says that it might have come from Latin, the old Roman language, meaning “pathways”. It is also possible that the name could be associated with the presence of water, due to the numerous ponds and lakes in the field of Sitnica in ancient times. Most likely the name has nothing to do with the fig, a Mediterranean fruit that in Croatian is called “smokva”, with word “smokvica” meaning “little fig”.
Although the settlement was first mentioned in the Korcula Statute from 1214 (which among others recommended the defense of the old town of Korcula as well as villages Blato, Smokvica, Čara, Pupnat and Zrnovo), there are evidence that people inhabited this area long before that. Best example is “gradina” (fortification on the hill) left behind by the Illyrian tribes somewhere between 2nd and 1st millennium B.C., as well as remains of a cemetery from the early Croatian tribes in the vicinity of today’s cemetery.
On the territory of Smokvica, many cultures have changed through history and evidence of that can be seen in numerous findings like antique ceramics, the ancient Greek wine press, Roman “villa rustica” (countryside villa), early-medieval churches and a castle of Korcula nobleman. During these times of great changes, the local inhabitants had to defend against many invaders so there was a good reason why the old centre in the vicinity of St. Michael’s church was heavily fortified. The church itself was built in 14th century on a rocky butte (butte – an isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top) from where there was a good view of all the main roads leading to Smokvica. Today, the large parish church of Blessed Virgin of Purification from the year 1700, with its big bell tower and a baroque lodge surrounded with stone columns from all sides, dominate the new center of the village. This lodge (or “loggia) was, at that times, place where locals would gather to discuss and solve their mutual problems, to agree on mutual aims and announce latest news. Loggia was also the very centre of life in the village, where the old customs would perform – such as interesting sword dance “Kumpanjija” that portrays a fight of the locals against the invaders and local habit of “Plucking the Orange”, as well as “Stari Bali” (or translated: old dances). Many of these old traditions are still preserved in Smokvica so apart from Kumpanija, there are other traditional folk dances, “klape” (Croatian a cappella singing), church choir, old fashion singing, brass band, etc.
From the ancient times until modern days, people of this area were known as crafted farmers, wine growers and wine makers, but also stonemasons, shipbuilders and fishermen. Smokvica, with its neighboring village of Cara, is a homeland of “Posip” (pronounced: Po-sheep), Korcula’s most famous white wine, winner of many awards for its quality in both Croatia and Europe and the first legally protected white wine in Croatia. This indigenous sort dates back from ancient times so today Smokvica has several wineries that offer not only their wines but also olive oil and various aromatized liquors and brandies. As we mentioned, village life here is still about the land – from producing some of the best quality olive oil on the island, growing “Smokvica Princes”(a delicate and thin-shelled almond with beautiful blossoms in the spring), to being well known for its excellent wines. We would recommend that besides Posip, you make sure to try “Rukatac” – an elegant dry wine; and “Prosek” – a sweet dessert wine, made from dried Posip grapes and best enjoyed cooled. Don’t miss out great gastronomy offerings which also include tasty and healthy local vegetables such as “blitva” (similar to swiss chard) mixed with potatoes, broad beans, cabbage, “gruda” (a mix of wild edible herbs) or cherry tomato sauce with olive oil, all deliciously seasoned with fresh-grown herbs.
So this is Smokvica today, with its beautiful inland nature of deep valleys, charming hills, carefully planted vineyards and endless olive groves, as well as the charm of the traditional Mediterranean village and its narrow streets, old stone houses and rich cultural and historical heritage. Weather you are located somewhere near by or just planning a day trip, Smokvica invites you to enjoy its picturesque scenery, visit cultural manifestations and historical sites, or explore some of many walking and cycling paths and taste top quality wines in some of the local wineries and restaurants together with delicious local specialties.
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