... off the beaten track as you can get, is the tiny chapel of Sveti Nikola, high on hill between Selca and Sumartin at the western end of Brac. Dating from between the 9th and the 11th centuries, there are several of these ancient chapels dotted around Brac, most of them concentrated at the western end of the island and almost all of them in fairly inaccessible places. I had a special interest in this one in particular and I was determined to find it.
A sign on the side of the road not long before you get to Sumartin points the way and, to begin with, the road is driveable - but not for long. After that, unless you have a four-wheel drive, you'll need to walk. And a long walk it is, uphill all the way. We came to a steeper, smaller path after a while, which seemed as though it would lead up to the chapel but we chose to stay on the road at that point, and we kept on walking ... and walking ... and walking.
It was a beautiful walk actually, high up in the maquis, the flowers of late summer and first berries of autumn lining the path, the scent of the pine trees and birdsong all around us. We passed some well-tended olive trees along the way but didn't meet another soul. Finally, we found ourselves at the chapel, locked - it's only open for the feast of the saint, December 6 - so no chance to see inside but it was very gratifying to have made it. The walk, the peace, the beautiful views over the countryside and the sense of a mission accomplished (photos to send to the St Nicholas Project) made it all a highlight of our time on Brac this year.
Instead of just turning back the way we had come, we took another path down the hill from the bottom of quarry that sits below the chapel. This turned out to be the path we had seen earlier - and our instincts were right, it was much steeper and rougher than the road we'd taken up, far easier to come down than go up.
Now there are just the other chapels like this one to visit - Sv Rocco, Sv Iadro, Sv Sylvester, Sv Mahail ......more than a dozen of them.
Look carefully at Photo 5 - you can pick out the chapel as a tiny white speck high on the hill
"...Skrip is the oldest settlement on the island. Set on the top of the hill, with its belfry, church facade and huge towers it appears like a town strangly lost in this karst. It is a monument in which three ethnic layers have deposited (Illyrian, Roman and Croatian) the evidence of their presence...."
"...This little hamlet, set on the western side of that island just under the top of the mountain, seems somehow squeezed on the sunny slope, overlooking the sea. The fronts of its houses face the sea while their backs are turned to the hinterland and the surrounding countryside..."
"...Together with the little harbour of Bobovisca, Milna is the only settlement on Brac’s western coast. Set at the end of the biggest harbour on Brac, Milna is sheltered from the winds and exposed to the sun. Unlike other places on the island, Milna has preserved to a high degree, the harmony of civic buildings and fisherman houses on the coast and on the rural architecture on the hill from where the snake-like footpaths wind down to the vineyards and olive-groves...."
"...Lozisca has chosen its site in a very steep stone glade. The stone houses are strung one upon the other along the sloping lanes that stretch from the rather deep valley and reach to the top of the village. The stone, southern fronts are turned to the sun. They are filled with rows of little windows above the large cellar door....
Here's the Franciscan monastery as viewed from the front porch of our small house tucked away in an olive grove on the hillside.
Go on the paths that go into the hills overlooking Milna...hardly anyone was up there when I went. I love old abbandoned houses like in the picture; they make me wonder what story surrounds them.