Posted by: viewfromtheriva | November 1, 2015

Discovering Skrip and its Olive Oil Museum on Brac Island


We spent a lovely day yesterday with Ivana Vrdoljak of the Split Tourist Board, Michael Bockheim, a German national living and working here and Lada Tomsic, who runs a boutique travel agency on the island offering a wonderful program up close experiences, discovering the ancient town of Skrip on the island of Brac.

Everywhere you look in Skrip there’s history looking back at you. Castles, ancient churches, Roman artifacts, medieval stone ruins and more!

Only a 20 minute drive from Supetar, the island’s ferry port, Skrip is the oldest town on Brac–the perfect place to experience the long history and culture of the entire island.

Like any island, water is precious so this massive stone rain gutter was clearly designed to capture as much as possible!

Like any island, water is precious,  so this massive stone rain gutter was clearly designed to capture as much as possible!

Skrip is a time capsule–prehistoric town walls are still here, as well as some wonderfully preserved churches from as far back as the 7thC; a particularly beautiful modern graveyard within an ancient churchyard, together with splendid ruins, wonderful streets and alleys and a buzz of restoration projects.  

dating from Roman times, this carved sluiceway is in the center of the village, literlly carved into an area of flat rock

Dating from Roman times, this carved sluiceway is in the center of the village, literlly carved into an area of flat rock

Surrounded by green, perched so high, with deep valleys and views all the way to the sea, the town is just magical.

A medieival church burial ground, one of so many fascinating sites in Skrip

A medieival church burial ground, one of so many fascinating sites in Skrip

And because Brac is so famous for its marble quarries, still worked today, the stone houses and masonry here is really stunning.  Seeing so many original stone roofs, whitewashed with lime, mixed in with the red tile clay roofs was a real treat.

The lovingly restored interior of the Olive Oil Museum in Skrip, notice the stone layers supported by beams--no insulation needed folks--and how some of the beams are literally lashed together

The lovingly restored interior of the Olive Oil Museum in Skrip, notice the stone layers supported by beams–no insulation needed folks–and how some of the beams are literally mitered to fit lashed together and then bound with an iron clasp

Archeologists have traced Skrip back to an Illyrian village from circa 1400 BC!  The Roman occupation is clearly here, as well as strutures from the medieval period, like the Radojković Tower, which today houses the island’s superlative historical museum.

Imagine sitting on a pleasant bench in the center of Skrip flanked by a completely intact 1,800 year-old Roman tomb--one of a number around the town!

Imagine a completely intact 1,800 year-old Roman tomb–one of a number around the town–flanked by twin benches where you can sit and admire the fabulous surroundings!

What was especially fascinating was that one of the 16th castles is actually lived in by locals who have their apartments inside its walls.   

The sweeping 360 views from this ancient hilltop town made is a perfect location for the Illyrians and the Romans who followed them to see what was coming their way!

The sweeping 360 views from this ancient hilltop town made is a perfect location for the Illyrians and the Romans who followed them to see what was coming their way!

The main reason we came here was to meet Kruno Cuckrov, who has been restoring and runs the Olive Oil Museum of Brac here. 

olive museum sign

Inside is a revelation–a completely intact olive oil press from when everything was done by hand more than 100 years ago.

PictureAn original “schematic” of the Thomas Holt olive press, purchased by Krulo Krstulović and his and set up in the ancient hilltop town of Skrip on Brac island to produce oil.

Kruno took us a tour of this fascinating one-room “factory” from where the olives were dumped to pick out the leaves and debris to an ancient “press” and stone storage “tanks”.  The pressing process back then was so hand-intensive and laborious that it took a whole day to press the harvest from just 50 or trees!

Stone on stone ground the olives into paste which was collected below and put into woven sieves that were stacked on top of each other and then pressed to release what Homer called

Olives were put into the wooden container at the left of the stone and then a strong guy put his weight on the bar and walked round and round as stone on stone ground the olives into paste which formed below and then scooped out to be put into woven sieves that were stacked on top of each other and then pressed to release what Homer called “liquid gold”

The Thomas Holt olive press, which Kruno’s family brought back from Trieste, is an enormous rig extending up into the second floor. Looking almost like a medieval torture device, its massive wooden screw mechanism was ratcheted down by hand to press on woven sieves full of olive paste to release its oil.

This massive wooden olive press is the center-piece of the museum. And yes, it can still be cranked!

This massive wooden olive press is the center-piece of the museum. And yes, it can still be cranked!  It actually extends up to the second floor balcony, which has been restored to even include the bunks where workmen could sleep before beginning their grueling shift operating this beast!

After our tour around the town, we were treated to a great lunch of home cured prsut (dry-aged ham), local wine, even better rakija made from local cherries and some gorgeous fig jam with a touch of rum–wow!

Several hundred kilos of fresh picked olives ready for pressing!

Several hundred kilos of fresh picked olives ready for pressing!

Kruno has big plans for his museum and so of course, everyone reading this needs to come and spread the word.

To read more about it:  http://www.muzejuja.com/

And to explore Brac from wine tasting to making your own stone jewelry, check out Lada Tomsic’s travel programs at http://www.idiividi.com (which in Croatia means “go and see”).

A wonderful day on an island known mostly by tourists for its famous beach (Zlatny Rat) in Bol, but so rich in history and culture it’s worth a week at least to discover all of its treasures!

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