Just 30 minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage city of Dubrovnik, and even closer to the Adriatic coast, the traditional stone-walled village of Osojnik lies within the lush mountainside of Croatia’s Dubrovnik-Neretva County. A stark contrast to the business of Dubrovnik, amidst thriving vineyards and olive groves, the Muhoberac family farm the land, living in the same spot their ancestors settled in over 500 years ago. Giving a true look into Croatia’s turbulent past, this exclusive Be My Guest experience is an intimate look at how locals outside city centres are shaping the future while keeping Croatian and family traditions well and truly alive.
It’s here in this quaint hillside town that you’ll find the warm and welcoming Anton and Marja Muhoberac, their teenage son Tony, along with Anton’s mother and their pet donkey, Biba. The closeness of the family is immediate, however, this picture-perfect scene hasn’t always run so smoothly.
During Croatia’s civil war in the 1990s, much of the village, including the family home, was tragically destroyed and burnt to the ground, the family fleeing the village along with neighbours and friends. When peace prevailed, a donation from the Swiss government saw the restoration of Osojnik, enabling villagers to return to their homes. Now back to its former glory, the village thrives as locals produce wine, honey and olives and raise livestock, and it is here that Anton and Marija welcome Trafalgar’s guests into their home like old friends, for a taste of tradition, music and culture and storytelling, an experience that will warm the heart and soul, that epitomises the meaning of family.
After a tour of the village, still bearing scars of war, guests find themselves on the sun-drenched terrace, then later under their beautiful arches and vaulted ceilings of the family’s centuries old home. Anton and Marija, under the watchful eye of Grandmother Muhoberac, will prepare their favourite dishes including zelena menestra (dish of cabbage, potatoes and smoked ham and sausages), different sorts of meat roasted under an iron bell (the famous Croatian peka). Dried figs, carobs, homemade liqueurs and Anton’s home-made wine complete the scene, with everything being farmed from their land.
Getting involved is all part of the fun. Guest get hands-on helping to cooking the first course, which consists of piercing ham and potato onto twigs and letting them sizzle in the flames of an open BBQ – making for a mouth-watering Moorish treat over conversations with the family.
“We produce our own wine and brandy, and we grow our own fruit and vegetables. We grow figs, cherries, peaches, oranges, lemons and apples,” Anton enthuses. “In the 250-year-old fireplace, we dry meat, bake bread and roast meat and potatoes, just like our ancestors did.”
Far more than a tasty culinary experience, visiting the Muhoberacs is a unique opportunity to become immersed in everyday life in the Croatian countryside, and experience elements of the local culture, and most importantly, storytelling about Croatia’s past, straight from the source. Anton and Marija will share their struggles and first-hand reality of what the civil war was like, their return to the village – and how the family looks to the future.
Although small, Osojnik has its own cultural society, known as the KUD, which now has over 150 members who gather to perform traditional music and dance. The Muhoberac’s also embrace their cultural inheritance, with son Tony playing the mandolin for guests, and the family and friends performing folk dances for their guests before dinner, in traditional costume.
For both the family and their guests, this experience is unique, filled with love, passion, history and is wonderfully rewarding. Off the beaten track, the experience helps the family maintain their livelihoods and cultural traditions and keep them thriving for even more generations of the Muhoberac family to share in the future, through Trafalgar’s JoinTrafalgar commitment to supporting People. “Our guests always leave feeling satisfied. As the hosts we want people to leave feeling content, with pleasant memories of their time in our rural Osojnik.”
Meet Anton, Marija, Tony and Grandmother Muhoberac in Croatia on the Balkan Delight with Trafalgar.