Primošten, Croatia is, as of yet, an undiscovered gem of a holiday destination. We’ve recently shared with you our amazing experience at our Golden Rays villa. However, we wanted to put a spotlight on our trip to Baćulov dvor, a heritage site called ‘the Old House’ by locals, in the historic town of Draga.
Draga is only about a 10-15 min drive up into the mountains from the lovely seaside town of Primošten. The drive is a very gentle, gradual ascent rather than a steep climb; there are no harrowing , drop-off mountain roads on the way. We were able to take a shuttle from our villa at Golden Rays.
The drive is also like a step back in time. Donkeys, tiny old houses and dirt roads are the order of the day.
We climbed up a little hill to the old, vine-laden entrance of Baćulov dvor and stepped back 200 years as we crossed the threshold. You enter into a sunny little courtyard made of stone. There are a few tables here for Baćulov dvor to host diners and parties, but down some dark narrow stairs to the right you enter into a larger hosting area hewn into the stony hill. There are a few cellars down here as well, where the house-made wine and olive oil are stored.
Our hostess Anna spoke very good English and gave us a tour of all the old corners and secrets of the Old House, which has been in the same family since it was built over 200 years ago. It wasn’t established as the agrotourism business that it is today until 1984, but its ecological farming methods and produce have given character to the area since it was first built. The estate of small stone houses surrounding it is even older, originating in the 16th century.
The old grinding mill is still used to make their olive oil the really old-fashioned way, with resident donkey Dina and her two offspring pulling the mill lever. The old kitchen and living quarters have been incredibly preserved; the living apartment is open for viewing as a sort of museum, but the kitchen is still in use! It was in fact used to prepare a rich, savoury traditional Croatian meal for us of peka, a meat, onion and potato stew in a delicious broth.
As we waited for this main course, we were showered (well, not quite, but you get me) with house produce of rich cheeses, prosciutto, salami, sardines, olives, almonds, dried figs, warm freshly baked bread and babić wine. We were so full from this smörgåsbord of typical Croatian nibbles that we weren’t even expecting the peka. Needless to say, we found room enough to still devour the stew, sopping up the broth with our ancient-Croatian-oven-baked bread.
The old kitchen is a wonder in itself, using an old Croatian method of cooking in which burning wood is placed over metal lids. The food simmers underneath the lid, creating an even cooking atmosphere. They call the kitchen at Baćulov dvor the ‘Black Kitchen’ due to the smut embedded in its rooftop and walls from being used for smoking prosciutto.
In the Dalmatian hinterlands, where the way of life hasn’t ‘caught up’ to modernity, this cooking method is still often used. We even saw these metal oven ‘lids’ on sale at a market in Split.
For dessert, we were served limoncin and Turkish coffee. Limoncin are small, lemon flavoured cake balls, sort of like doughnut holes, dusted with grainy sugar.
To walk off our indulgent dinner, Anna took us on a walk up through the estate and town on a rocky dirt path. After we gained some height, we took a moment to gaze over the breathtaking vineyards and the sea beyond. The vineyards consisted of a series of stone-lined, semi-terraced plots hewn into the hillside, beautiful in their rustic simplicity. Lively folk music spilled out from another old heritage estate nearby, completing the moment as a truly traditional Croatian experience.
If you’re looking to experience authentic Croatian food, wine, hospitality, culture and lifestyle, you have to step back in time at Baćulov dvor.