Where the Summer Ends

For us lucky kiters that have so many so great friends in Croatia, the end of the summer is a geographical term. It’s not so much the question of when, but where – for us the summer ends on an island.

The island is small and near the mainland, a seemingly unremarkable blob of land jutting out of the blue Adriatic sea. But on this meager 2.37 square kilometers of stone, olive trees, pines, pomegranates, grapevines, crumbling old buildings under protection of the Ministry of Culture, something incredible is happening.

While Adriatic islands are almost impossibly beautiful – or precisely because of that – they are under prolonged and sustained onslaught of tourism. At least since 1991 the so-called apartmentisation; chaotic, maniacal building of hotels, apartment blocks, ‘villas’ etc., is destroying the serene nature of the Adriatic coast in Croatia, threatening (and in some places succeeding) to erase the very beauty that is drawing the crowds there. An Ouroboros eating itself.

But the summer onslaught of barbarians is not the only problem. When the summer ends, life itself ends, at least on small islands like Prvić. For there is nothing to do. The industry is gone, old fishermen can’t compete with industrial-scale fishing, the restaurants and hotels are empty … So people leave, they create their lives on the mainland, they search for opportunities in larger cities, and return to their island as visitors, former locals, almost-tourists. So when September ends, only old people remain. And they are dying.

Well, the good people of Prvić really hate this. They don’t want their island to turn into a ghost-island, an empty shell waiting for tourists; they don’t like autumn and winter becoming synonyms for gloom, boredom, death. And they are doing something about it.

Prvić is, luckily, also known as Faust’s island, for the great Renaissance polymath, inventor, diplomat, writer, and bishop, Faust Vrančić, owned a big summer house on the island in the 16th century. Faust was a bit crazy – he invented a parachute and demonstrated its usefulness by jumping from the Campanile of the church of St Mark in Venice – so the people of Prvić (being a bit crazy themselves) happily took him as their guiding light and a foundation for the cultural Renaissance of the island.

A huge part of this Renaissance of Prvić is the incredible festival Creative Days of Faust Vrančić, established as a culture and science event, and as an instrument of reversing the perception of oncoming Winter as the end. The festival is therefore happening in October, when the gentle Adriatic climate still insists it’s summer – it’s 30 degrees outside, the sea is warm, the sun is shining forcefully … Prvić is a true Island at the End of Summer.

And Prvić is, to us, a home away from home, a cozy place full of great friends, great food, great – and crazy – parties. Of course, we are a part of the festival, holding kite workshops for kids, flying kites at the main square by the port, and doing kite aerial photography sessions. But the main thing there is that we grow, we meet new crazy people, we discover new things, we talk and discuss deep into the night, we dance and laugh and relax and swim … Prvić grows into you, Prvić changes you, Prvić makes you better.

The Creative Days of Faust Vrančić 2023 were immense. Martina and her exquisite ceramics. Antonija and her aerial dance on silk. Ante and his wooden owls. Astronomers brought their telescopes and a huge planetarium. The Croatian Robotics Association had kids make robots and machines from Lego bricks. A world-renowned fashion photographer Šime Eškinja and fashion designer Saša MAKS showed how to make a perfect Insta photo. We learned how to make a traditional Šibenik headgear, how to recycle plastics, how to find and use medicinal herbs (yes, that herb too!) of the island, how to make music with bananas, a balloon animal, a book of recycled paper, a painting, a sculpture from clay, a kite …

Yes, kites … with our soulmates Žuža and Žare of Zmajoljupci – Croatian Kite Association we did three (!) kite workshops for kids (okay, “we” is doing some heavy lifting here, as Žuža and especially Žare did most of the work herding kids on a sunny day), and soon the sky above Prvić Luka was full of colour.

Later the giant showkites joined the little ones in the air, sharing the wind with cute little kites made by excited kids (who were a bit overwhelmed by the fact that a thing they created themselves actually flies).

And then it was party time. We all gathered at Nanini for a fantastic dinner – and a surprise. We were taken by the hands of always stunning Lidija Graovac and always true Miro Odak, and led down the memory lane of rock ‘n’ roll to that elusive place deep in the brain only such musical madeleines can. Thank you, Lili Gee!

And thank you, Antonija, Drenka, Gaša, Ana, Zlatka, Ante, Josip, Šime, Simona, Saša, Martina, Vanda, Vesna, Vlada … and everyone else, to Otok community, to Memorial Center Faust Vrančić and Creative Days of Faust Vrančić, to konoba Mareta and Stara makina and Mini camp Perla, to all the kids (both in age and at heart) who came to enjoy the festival with us, and to all the good people of Prvić island.

And the moment we touched the mainland, the Summer endeth.

It was again amazing – and see you again next year!

Photos by Ivor, Žare, Sergeja, and Saša.

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