October 24, 2020 – TCN meets Jasmina Knezovic, author of A Sensible Guide to Split and its Islands.
Imagine that on your next trip to the Dalmatian coast you had an extremely passionate and knowledgeable friend who offered you a tour. Someone who not only knows which part of Diocletian’s 3rd century palace you are walking through when you go to the old town of Split, but also where to buy the best fig cake on the island of Vis and like the word ‘carat “Is related to a certain strange looking tree on the island – and many, many other things.
This book is that friend.
In it, Jasmina Knezovic combined her lifelong passion for the region with her training as a doctoral student in Oxford. and food and tour guides to create a cultural guide that will reveal the secrets of one of Europe’s longest-populated regions.
As a Croatian-American, Jasmina has been spending every summer in Dalmatia since 1995. In Croatian History at Oxford University, she explored Split and discovered a wealth of stories illustrating the city’s rich history. As a freelance writer (VICE, Suitcase, Contemporary Food Lab), she focused on her main passion: travel. This book is a culmination of historical knowledge and a passion for travel. It values authenticity, tradition, presence and identity.
The book contains:
- Highly curated practical tips (the best places to eat, stay, and shop) for Split, Hvar, Vis and Brač
- An almanac section: jewels from the archives, centuries-old literature and travel books as well as insightful and entertaining historical documents, lists and tables (including the officially recommended fitness levels for each population group published by the Yugoslav government).
- an overview of notable visitors and residents
- 16 interviews with a variety of locals (including a songwriter, a stonemason, a filmmaker, and a fisherman)
- 3 essays by local writers
- Useful and beautiful maps, including a detailed scheme of how the modern city fits into the ancient palace of Diocletian
- Over 20 beautiful illustrations by a respected local artist
TCN met with Jasmina to learn more.
“I’ve written a historical and cultural guide to Split and its islands. But I’m also adding a list of my favorite things to eat and see, a streamlined one.
But I didn’t just want to write about restaurants and cafes – I also wanted to convey something about the fascinating culture and history of the Dalmatian coast.
In this guide you will also learn how the word “carat” is related to the carob tree, what Sigmund Freud said on his visit to Split in 1898, how polenta actually made many people in Dalmatia sick and how a plant bug triggered one of the largest waves of emigration Croatian emigration to the USA. Just a lot of cool and interesting things.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the interview area – I interviewed 16 locals who gave me insights into their lives and professions. This is how readers get to know some of the best local people.
The essay section is another special part. It provides reading material during the trip or even before or after.
There are no photos, but it is illustrated by the talented Luka Duplančić from Split, whom I spotted over coffee at D16. “
What inspired Jasmina to create this travel guide?
“People always ask me for tips, and I started planning foreign trips for friends of friends. After spending autumn in Split and Dalmatia and seeing another, more diverse side of the city, I wanted to share it with people.” so I decided to write a book.
The whole project is my own love work: As a travel writer, I’ve seen firsthand how superficial the content world can sometimes be in terms of quantity that surpasses quality, and how many bloggers and portals write about something, even if they do have not personally tried or verified. I had already dug deeper and wanted to share that with people. My suggestions are real; nothing is sponsored.
Toni Morisson once said: “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” The same goes for this book.
How did Jasmina choose who she interviewed?
“I had an idea of different categories of people that I thought would be interesting – like an athlete, a winemaker, a musician, a fisherman, an archaeologist, etc. From each category, I selected people to represent the area Sometimes after talking to one person, they put me in touch with another so that it became like a treasure trail of interesting people.
I’ve spoken to musicians like Neno Belan, whose early music epitomizes the split of the 80s, and Saša Antić, who now writes very relevant and poignant lyrics for TBF. I also spoke to Olympic sailor Filip Jurišić who gave me a glimpse into the world of performance sailing, film director Marcella Zanki, who had her first big break with Gibonni’s music videos, and Oliver Roki, the winemaker and cricket promoter at Vis. as well as stonemasons, bakers, fishermen and even a picigin player. The most embarrassing thing I was when I paused a picigin game on Bačvice Beach to speak to a player out of the blue, but they were good athletes. “
What does Jasmina think readers will find most unique and useful about the guide?
“The Interview, Essay and Almanac sections are the most unique to help readers get under the skin of the city. The essentials and food recommendations are helpful as I share where I want next to the best Komiška pogaca.” Best Ice Cream I gave up on the process of getting a boating license my husband and I finally did this summer, so it’s an enriching book.
We want this book to be both a useful companion and a beautiful item to keep for a long time after your return. A sensible guide to Split and its islands, designed by Palermo-based Ciao Ciao Studio, is an object to last. “
A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help Jasmina start this project. More information can be found here.
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