This year I did not want to post any photos of my olive trees or anything “regular” happening up and down the coast in the season of olive picking. This year the destination was Lun…
To anyone, even vaguely familiar with olive-growing traditions on the Croatian coast, even the very name of village of Lun grabs the attention as this fairytale landscape is the place of legends and mysteries yet to be fully discovered.
Yes, the tradition of olive growing in Croatia is ancient with great olive oils being produced from Istria down to Konavle and yes, the olive groves along our coast are beautiful no matter if you are in Piramatovci near Šibenik, on the islands of Brac, Solta… or in the hillside of Konavle. But all that is simply pale and “unimportant” once you reach Lun… This place and these trees capture you as one of the most unique landscapes on the coast!
We drove from Zadar and it is a longish drive pass Novalja all the way to the very tip of Pag island – probably the most unique island in Croatia. The landscape is rocky. Dry stone walls along the road with closed gates. Not inviting at all… But all that probably protected these trees from devastation. Not today as the alarm sounded all over the press and media after some nouveau riche bought three ancient trees for 1500 Euros. You really have to be a big time, illiterate looser to take the trees away!
So now we are paying more attention and protection to all the riches Lun hides even though this area has been declared a botanical reserve back in 1963.
There are between 70 000 and 80 000 olive trees in this area ranging from over 1500 years old trees to very young sprouts from last spring! It is an interesting fact as usually olive trees grow from old barks but here, they grow from pits! This place is one of three world unique locations with biggest concentration of wild olive trees or in Latin Olea oleaster. Other two are in Israel and Greece but they have nowhere near the number of trees found here. Another very interesting fact is that scientists started gathering the DNA samples from different Lun olive trees and found out that nearly all were of different sub-species! Out of 120 olive trees sampled from Istria to Konavle, we now differentiate about 80 authentic sub-species. It is now estimated that Lun area alone has about 300 different sub-species!!! All that without any fertilizers or insecticides. Ever!
That is incredible wealth important to preserve!
Lun is a tiny village with about 200 inhabitants. Olive trees are everywhere making this a very unique and very beautiful landscape but forget about easy hiking or walking around as the area is very rocky. Some signs can be seen by the road telling you a little bit about the importance of the area and there is also a sign marking a walking path that takes visitors to some of the most beautiful parts of the area as well as to the oldest tree.
By using new and sophisticated methods of establishing how old the trees are, we now know that most of the trees are between 300 and 150 years old with about a hundred of them being older that 1000 years. One has been estimated at over 1600 years old which puts it in the same time frame with the famous Brijuni olive tree and the one in Kastela. The oldest in the world is on Crete and it is estimated to be between 3000 and 5000 years old and there is one on Sardinia abut the same age.
The Lun area belonged to people of Rab and the locals, only in 1830s they asked the permission to start cultivating the olive trees. They never bothered to divide the land among themselves so now the trees have the owners but the land does not. That is why the trees have all sorts of different markings.
So, after checking the trees and the fields, we went to Lun to have a drink. The harbor of Lun is called Tovarnele and it is tiny and cute. Very peaceful at this time of year. Just like the rest of the island where some areas have been completely devastated by the newly built apartment buildings…
The island of Pag is simply an amazing part of the country with Lun being “the icing on the cake”. The area of surreal beauty now lives only of short tourist season and olive oil but the tourism potential is enormous. Not only from very authentic olive picking but people can hike or cycle on the numerous paths from one coast to another. We don’t have to build anything to have a tourist attraction and the newly opened hotel Luna (4*) is right there. The locals should also consider selling their olive oil at specialized stands. With all these sorts, it should not be difficult to fill the shelves! Also, wild olive tree makes perfect bonsais… if you are patient person 🙂
Anyway, even you don’t bring tourists, be sure to visit!
There is a good and informative web site of the local community: http://www.lun.hr/index.html