The Sleepy Silba

Many wonderful islands are still “hidden” from the masses of sailing guests enjoying the central Dalmatian archipelago all the way to Dubrovnik. And that is absolutely fine. It is not like these islands don’t get anyone, but that is far from the crowded shores of Hvar, busy bays of Brac or the lines in front of Blue Cave of Biševo.

One of such, less visited pearls is definitely Silba. Beautiful island paradise North West of Zadar and just a short sailing distance from the southern shores of Lošinj.

(image from TZ Silba web site)

Silba is an island where one can only think of peace and tranquility when mentioned. There are no cars on the island and there are only 290 inhabitants year round. Summer is, of course, more lively but that is a very short period.

The main pier and ferry harbor

History of the island and its only settlement is quite simple as it was always owned by some of the local noble families from Zadar or Losinj with “independence” bought only in the 1852. The rise of captains and ship owners from Silba started all the way in the 1600s but Napoleon burned down the entire fleet in the early 1800s. The second rise of Silba merchant marine was in the mid 1800s with an impressive fleet of 98 sailing ships. Orebić and Lošinj are more famous as their fleets were larger but the same fate got them all as they did not see the advantages of steamers…

Silba harbor in the 1970s

Another terrible disaster was the arrival of Phylloxera and the death of all of Silba’s vineyards. The vineyards were never replanted which is a pity as Silba was home to one very special type of vine that would ripe earlier than any other grape variety on the coast: as early as July.

Typical view of Silba from turn of the century

Today, Silba is best known as an oasis of peace. I had a rare chance to visit this May and enjoyed immensely walking the silent streets, enjoying the genuine tranquility and calmness. Almost a meditation.


Silba is also known for its best known monument – toreta.


It was built by a local captain Marinić who built it so his loved one can watch for his ship when returning. In those days, one would sail for years so the young lady could not wait and married another man. When he returned, he realized the sad truth but he also saw a young daughter of his former love and waited for her to grow up and merry her. They lived a happy life and had nine children!

Before forestation

Silba is also a popular stop for fishermen fishing in this part of the Adriatic for many centuries now.


With tourism getting to all islands and parts of the coastline, Silba seems to be escaping the faith of southern islands and enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere even in the peak season.


But spring is the best time to visit. Very different from anything one can see south of Šibenik, Silba should stay a secret!


Ruinart Champagne dinner at Pelegrini

We have been invited by chef Rudi for an evening of Ruinart champagnes paired with his (always) great dishes. Pelegrini is one of the top 3 restaurants in the Country and always an absolute pleasure to dine at so we could not refuse.

After a short intro by a local importer of Ruinart champagnes, we started with carpaccio of oysters and Angus beef with spices and rice chips.

Next dish was gazpacho with scampi and strawberies-an explosion of tastes masterfully blended together!

Everything so far was paired with Ruinart brut. Our next wine was a superb Ruinart Blanc de Blanc.

A dish that followed was scampi wrapped in smoked pečenica bacon on nori algae with banana gnochi.

Pork ears with potatoe purre and mustard followed. Perfectly balanced dish again!

We moved to Ruinart Rose next and the first dish with this wine was octopus (cooked and fried) on purre of beans.

Next was Dom Ruinart (2004). One of My favorite champagnes! Perfect in every way.

And it went perfectly well with veal shank with baked picant cheese iz mišine. Mango purre was a Superb addition!

Before dessert, we had a strawbery mousse with some sort of jello of olive oil and lemon juice. Pure perfection!

Dessert that followed was a bit of surprise. Very American. Oreo cookie tart with peanut butter and chocolate. Raspberry on top and raspberry coulis.

The dinner ended with their own version of traditional mađarica cake made of carob.

Simply put, Pelegrini did it again! Rudi never fails and always delivers exeptional experience. Ruinart champagnes just Made everything extra special!

Saints Hills Vinaria

Peljesac peninsula is one of those regions that is considered to be  one of the “wine countries” of Croatia just like it is Istria or Plješivica… Famous for it’s rich bodied plavac from Dingač and Postup appellations, this region is simply a must for any serious wine lover. In 1961 Dingač became Croatia’s first recognized appellation with “Protected Geographical Origin”. It was followed in 1967 by a neighboring area, Postup.
The wines coming from the peninsula had their ups and downs and the quality is not exactly consistent. However, there are several great producers but also several new stories developing in the region.

One of the latest great enterprises is definitely magical Vinaria of Saints Hills.

Vinaria from the air
Vinaria from the air

Founded by Mr. Ernest Toljthe Saints Hills winery produces some unique wines from a number of different localities. Some of their most popular wines include Nevina, a blend of Malvazija and Chardonnay that originates from Saints Hills vineyards at Radovani in Istria. Saints Hills’ quite interesting Dingač is aged in barrels for 18-24 months while their Sveti Roko plavac is made with grapes from vineyards at Komarna. Mr. Tolj wanted to get the best out of his wines so he formed a special oenological team led by World known French specialist Michel Rolland.

Entering the cellar
Entering the cellar

The property at Oskorušno is nothing short of impressive. The traditional old house was transformed to state-of-the-art cellar and tasting facility. From the moment one sees the property from the road, it is already clear that there is some serious love (and money) invested. No expense was spared in making this at par with similar properties around the world. From the equipment of the cellar to the design, Vinaria is simply breathtaking!

French oak barrels
French oak barrels

And the architecture of the typical Peljesac property has been respected to the maximum without any silly, tasteless interventions.

Behind the main building
Behind the main building
The main building
The main building

There are few apartments for guests to stay over as well.

The apartment at Vinaria
The apartment at Vinaria

And then there is the main tasting room.

Tasting room
Tasting room

Besides great wines, Saints hills offers a superb tasting menu as well! The young chef masterfully prepares some Dalmatian classics mixed with various influences. Of course, all the dishes are perfectly paired with Saints Hills wines.

When on Peljesac... Ston oysters with lemon granita
When on Peljesac… Ston oysters with lemon granita
Escargot a la Peljesac
Escargot a la Peljesac
Shrimp risotto with edible 24 karat gold
Shrimp risotto with edible 24 karat gold

The five course tasting menu ends with one of the best chocolate souffles I’ve ever had!

chocolate souffle
Chocolate souffle

In general, Saints Hills Vinaria is one of the finest properties on the coast. Offering the highest standards in both food and wine, it is a perfect getaway for any foodie! And there was something that took me right away when I got there: it is a product of love. You can clearly see that this belongs to a person (family) that lives with their wines and wants only the best for both their wines and guests. Highly recommended stop if in the region.