First you see the church and then a ghostly figure of an expressionless doll suspended between heaven and earth. This is the island of Prvić Luka where the body of Faust Vrančić rests in peace and his spirit treads the ground of his summer vacation spot. The latter is actually in Šepurine, on the other side of the island about a 10-minute walk from Prvić Luka, while the former is buried at his bequest in the aforementioned St. Mary’s Church.
Born in 1551, no doubt into a well-heeled family in Šibenik, where your ferry journey begins, this young man had many opportunities in life beginning with an education in Venice and later at Padua University where his majors included mathematics and engineering. And here’s where the eerie doll features. In a book published by himself in Latin, Italian, Spanish, French and German (did I mention he was a polyglot?) called Machinae Novae, sketches of his Homo Volans appear as one of the first attempts at parachute invention. Imagine running free on that pristine island surrounded by waters changing from green to teal to blue to turquoise, where the sky meets the sea and the two are almost indistinguishable? Floating, suspended, flying all come to mind. Vrančić’s daydreaming had no limits. The earliest drawings of bridges hanging from steel cables in many forms and shapes are also in the book as are his mills and wind turbines. A visionary by all accounts. His 17thC inventions proved to be sound and with the advance of technology, many of his discoveries were realised a century later. The eponymous Memorial Centre in his honour, right next to the puppet, documents his story in a delightful way showing his family tree, his ‘machines’ as well as some hands-on games for younger visitors.
With all this heady stuff churning around in your brain, it’s time to test the waters where Faust himself must have cooled down regularly. It’s hot and clear coolness hoodwinks you to take a dip and freshen up your thinking. And what follows is also quite natural – a deep thirst and a hollow feeling in the stomach. Where to satisfy these urges?
In amongst the stone buildings and their charming occupants, we find Stara Makina and eyeball the newly lit fire in the grill, right on the waterfront. This’ll do nicely, thank you very much. It takes a while to get a menu, island time you know, but when our mixed salad and mixed grill finally arrive, it’s worth the wait. The chicken kebab is succulent, the ćevapi (a type of skinless sausage made of minced meat) nicely spiced, the beefsteak tender and the lamb tasting of island shrubs and herbs. Served with crispy, thinly sliced oven-baked potatoes, it hits the spot together with the local red wine to wash it all down. The professionally presented dishes are served with a smile from both the waitress and the chef slaving away in this heat. To top it all, your stomach does the groaning not your head when the bill arrives.
Another swim in the glitter of diamonds that sparkle around you, and then locally made ice cream finishes off a day of a little bit of culture, a little bit of indulgence and a lot of fine feelings of time well spent. And this, my friends, is how you drift between heaven and earth with reality being put off for a later date.
From Šibenik to Prvić Luka takes 45 minutes on the Jadrolinija ferry
Konoba Stara Makina (restaurant)