From Illyria to Italy, Part 3: The Riva and the Water
There is such a glorious panoply of architectural treasure to consume the mind in Split in Croatia that you would be excused for forgetting that the city lies on one of the most beautiful coastal stretches of the Adriatic sea. With an archipelago of little islands dotted all along the horizon as far as the eye can see, and a skyline of imposing mountains backing up the city, Split’s coastal views are stunning whichever way you look, no more so than from the Riva, the city´s bustling seaside promenade. The Riva stretches along the southern facade of Diocletian’s palace, and exhibits the laid back, chic French Riviera essence which no doubt remains a left over of the era of Napoleonic rule in Croatia, the time of its construction.
Today the Riva is arguably one of the centre points of the town, and although it is not a place to dip into the sea (not least because of the fairly off-putting smell of sulphur which pervades the area – apparently owing to the natural supplies of the mineral in the area, said to be one reason why Diocletian set up home here), it is certainly a place to stroll, sit on one of many flower-fringed benches, and take a coffee or a cocktail in crowded cafes squeezed into every inch of the pavement space.
Beyond the Riva, Split does have its fair share of beaches. Living in Mallorca, I am somewhat spoilt when it comes to the choice of paradise beaches, and compared with those, we found Croatia’s offerings to be all a little hard underfoot… we discovered either beaches constructed from concrete, or others made naturally from stones. Nonetheless, few could deny the beautiful cerulean waters nor the warm clean currents which finally enticed us into the sea. They may not be sandy, but these beaches are popular… I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a crowded beach in my life!
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