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Marco Polo’s island birthplace

Now he’s held up as the model for explorers and Venice’s most famous son but this is where he’s really from… Marco Polo’s island birthplace.

And whisper it, it’s not even in Italy. 

The Island of Korčula is a relaxing Dalmatian getaway (that’s modern-day Croatia) across the strip from Dubrovnik.

It is often nicknamed Little Dubrovnik for that reason, and is considered to be the birthplace of Polo.

Water polo: OK, it’s Marco Polo

And it is thought to be Marco’s birthplace which they mark in Marco Polo House.

And it is due to reopen in August following renovations.

You get an insight too into how his surrounds filled the young Marco’s mind with curiosity.

House about that?

Casa Polo: Marco Polo House

Marco Polo House boasts a stone tower with incredible sea views…. and olive groves and vineyards, and I just bet he did.

So you’re in Dubrovnik, and already you’ve got further than me after my ill-fated efforts to get there from Medjugorje.

And you’re wanting to bag yourself some islands which is why you’re checking out Marco’s isle.

Helpfully we’ve an expert to walk and talk us through.

Helpfully because the weekend’s here which means the Scary One has a list of chores for me to do. Take it away.

Step back in time

They sword dance too: Moreska

History and tradition are apparent when you walk along the town’s paved streets and squares peppered with 15th-century fortifications and watchtowers.

And we’re advised not to miss St Mark’s Cathedral. See the Venetian influences there again.

Steeped in tradition, the island is where Croatia’s boatbuilding legacy and Moreska sword dancing originated. 

And surely an Instagram pic of Scots’ Highland dancing is a must. 

A taste of the good life

Bottle it: Croatian wines

And that means sampling Dragan’s lunch by the sea at the decidedly Mediterranean Filippi, one of the island’s many Michelin-recommended dining spots.

Top it all off with the finest Croatian whites, produced from the indigenous grapes pošip and grk (and try saying that after your second bottle). 

Embrace the Croatian coastline

Cats’ eyes: On snorkelling

And it’s always helpful, particularly if you get lost in your own room, to have someone who knows the lie or the land, or the coastline.

So we’re advised to venture off on an afternoon boat ride to Korčula’s archipelago consisting of hidden beaches and quiet coves.

And I guess they don’t know me at all because they’re recommending a wealth of watersports,including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and snorkeling.

Discover Pelješac peninsula en route

Water treat: The Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik

This is more my scene, the Pelješac peninsula, the world-renowned wine region.

And all in the setting of beautiful small villages, with their recommendation, Mali Ston.

There, Hotel Excelsior guests can tour its oyster farm in a traditional fishermen boat with an on-board tasting, accompanied by a glass of wine.

Your hotel room is ready

Coast with the most: Croatia

The Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik was meticulously revamped in summer 2017.

With a fresh, modern and elegant design that embodies the hotel’s sophisticated yet welcoming feel.

Ensconced by magnificent surroundings and spectacular vistas, the hotel’s 158 beautifully redecorated rooms and suites offer guests a luxurious stay in Dubrovnik’s Old Town.

They’re all about the local produce and innovative cuisine here in the hotel’s Sensus restaurant.

And you’ll enjoy a romantic dinner at the waterside Prora restaurant showcasing local seafood and regional fish dishes.

Additionally, guests can unwind with a glass of champagne on the terrace overlooking the dramatic Adriatic Sea, luxuriate in the spa, or go for a leisurely swim in the ‘sea pool’.  

Rates at Hotel Excelsior start from €279 EUR per night. 

And remember check out the island that is Marco Polo’s birthplace.