Souvenir Shopping in Croatia: Local Momentos from Hvar Island
Hvar has an array of transportable souvenirs, from locally produced wine, olive oil and honey to lavender bags and some unusual lace.
Tourists looking for souvenirs and gifts from a holiday to the island of Hvar have a range of excellent local products to choose from and, while the current restrictions on liquids on aircraft may limit the options for tourists flying in, there are souvenirs on offer for the air traveller.
Souvenirs from The Lavender Island
Known also as the island of lavender, the fields of Hvar are a colourful and aromatic delight in June and July as the lavender is in bloom. Lavender souvenirs are widely available in the boutique shops and waterfront stalls and make an ideal gift. The two most popular are lavender oil, sold in small, stylish bottles, and fragrance bags of Lavandula Croatica, filled with dried lavender flowers.
Virgin Olive Oil
The island is also well-known for the quality of its olive oil, and olive farming is an important part of island life. Most families have an olive grove and produce their own oil, using the various presses available locally, and there are many signs in the back streets of the various coastal towns offering olive oil for sale direct to the public.
Honey with a Hint of Rosemary
With its aromatic garden of herbs, Hvar is a fragrant island and there is an excellent selection of homemade honey to whet the appetite. Beekeeping has a long tradition on the island, and there are currently more than 3,000 hives and 100 beekeepers on Hvar, many of whom belong to the Lavender Beekeepers Society.
The bees turn the nectar of the island's rich variety of herbs into honey, with honey made from rosemary highly recommended, with its clear complexion and mild taste. Look out for the word Med meaning 'honey' while wandering through the alleys of the stone towns.
Liqueurs and Award-Winning Wines
There is a wide choice of local drinks on Hvar, with strong liqueurs made from every conceivable herb. Quality varies considerably and one should be prepared for an insistent host professing his to be the best rakija on the island. There are some excellent liqueurs, which make for good souvenirs, the more interesting ones made from figs, walnuts and olives.
Hvar also has an excellent wine-growing tradition, which is undergoing a resurgence. Led by the Zlatan Otok range from the Plenkovic winery in Sveta Nedelja, the only Croatian Grand Cru and winner of several international awards, there are some excellent wines available locally. Prices, like the quality, vary considerably.
Agave Lace from the Benedictine Nuns
Benedictine nuns have been working on the island since 1664, and they made a significant contribution to education on the island, running a girl's school in Hvar Town from 1826 to 1886, before the first state school was founded that year. Another tradition that they uphold to this day is making lace from the agave plant, making intricate patterns of sun, flowers and other cheery motifs, each pattern individual and left to the nuns' imagination.
An interesting tradition in the lace-making tradition remains, namely that the nuns will not weave when the strong northern wind know as the bura is in full force, as the wind stretches the filaments, but the southern Jugo is preferred for artistic inspiration.
There are more generic souvenirs on offer, but for a fragrant and local memento, the natural resources of this stunning island generate a range of gifts that will linger fragrantly long after the holiday has finished.