Croatians use the word fjaka to describe the neutral state they adopt to deal with noisy, unwanted thoughts.
I would suggest that Korcula, known as one of the most relaxing islands on the Dalmatian Coast, is the perfect place to find it.
With its atmospheric titular Old Town soaked in history and widely regarded as the prettiest settlement in the Adriatic, plus the surrounding countryside producing some of the country’s best wine, Korcula (at 29 miles long and four miles wide) is only just beginning to attract attention.
Enchanting: Korcula’s Old Town is soaked in history and widely regarded as the prettiest settlement in the Adriatic
As the island’s fairytale citadel, a confection of medieval, Italianate and shuttered stone houses encircled in 14th-century walls and watchtowers, rises up a steep-hilled peninsula from the Adriatic, my ten-year-old daughter, Agatha, is agog. ‘It’s like one of my snowglobes,’ she exclaims.
We are met at the dockside by Aldo, who, with his weathered face, silver ponytail and denim shirt, looks more like a veteran roadie for the Eagles than a staff member of the island’s only plush hotel, the Lesic Dimitri Palace.
He tells us: ‘Korcula is the birthplace of traveller Marco Polo. Your room is opposite his old house.’
‘How long have you been on the island?’ I ask him.
‘Longer than Odysseus, who fell in love with Circe and stayed a year. Me? I came here 30 years ago and never left.
‘There are five suites at the hotel, each named after a stage on the Silk Route: Ceylon, China, Arabia, Venice and . . .’ says Aldo, opening an antique door, ‘India.’
Imagine an Aladdin’s cave of flagstone floors, wood-beamed ceilings, divans and huge beds.
The former house of an 18th- century bishop, the hotel opened ten years ago, after seven years of refurbishment.
On our first morning, my 15-year-old son, Finn, and I go canoeing with Pacho of Korcula Outdoor. The water is so beguilingly cyan, it looks as though it might have been airbrushed.
The surrounding countryside produces some of the country’s best wine
Our destination is Vrnik, a pretty wooded islet, where we head for the arts club, a former schoolhouse- turned-gallery and restaurant, to feast on salty octopus and juicy fried squid.
After three nights at the Lesic Dimitri Palace, we head a few miles west of Korcula Old Town to our new digs, Tara’s Lodge, a Hockney-esque dream of cube-shaped buildings huddled around a swimming pool. ‘Our mantra is “eat, sleep, beach, repeat”,’ says Aussie owner Jane Bell Bandack as we chat in the restaurant.
The private beach looking out on to the silk-smooth bay is a tonic for the soul.
Finn grabs a paddleboard as I head back to the citadel to Aterina restaurant, to meet historian and guide Toni Lozica.
Over a bottle of Posip (a dry white wine), he tells me about Domagoj Jakopovic, a journalist who, in memory of his son’s tragic death, has begun a mammoth 50-island swim to raise awareness among children that there is more to life than video games and social media. ‘You just missed his swim to Korcula,’ he says.
He drops me back at Tara’s Lodge with some sage advice: ‘Go find some fjaka.’
And so I wander down to the beach, dip my feet into the crystalline water and do just that.