Travel

Lošinj to The World and The World to Lošinj, Croatia

miodrag.spahic

Miodrag Spahić - May 13, 2024

“The Mediterranean is a thousand things at once. Not one landscape, but countless landscapes. Not one sea, but a succession of seas. Not one civilization, but it is a series of civilizations stacked on top of each other, in short, a very ancient crossroads. For millennia everything has flowed into it, complicating and enriching its history: beasts of burden, cars, goods, ships, ideas, religions, ways of life”- F. Braudel

Nestled in the heart of the Adriatic lies Lošinj, an island where echoes of the Old World seamlessly blend with salty, pine-infused breezes, and a heritage of ancient mariners is sculpted into the soul of the land. Esteemed for its stunning vistas and healing sea air, Lošinj has long been a retreat for solace and wellness rooted in its thriving natural world. Likewise, its historic luxury villas are a repository of treasures, each a shrine illustrating the island’s tapestry of global connections and perennial heritage.During the golden age of maritime exploration, the brave sons of Lošinj fearlessly sailed across the expansive oceans, their ships gracefully slicing through the waves on a course set for distant shores. From youthful sailors to seasoned sea captains, these audacious souls embarked on lengthy voyages, navigating from the lively ports of the Mediterranean to the secluded harbors of the New World. Resonating the profound observations of historian Fernand Braudel, who eloquently chronicled the Mediterranean’s pivotal role in connecting diverse civilizations, Lošinj emerged as a microcosm reflecting the cultural mosaic of the vast sea. The island stands as a tribute to the enduring impact of the Mediterranean — a junction of history, commerce, and cultural exchange.

The annals of Mediterranean history unfold as a tempest of civilizations, a juncture marked by the tragedies and triumphs that have shaped our world. Within this narrative, Lošinj occupies a well-deserved chapter. With each expedition, the island’s mariners intricately weaved global cultures into the very fabric of their island. Their return brought not only exotic goods but tales of distant lands, their traditions, and their artistry, contributing to Lošinj’s ever-evolving place in the history of the Mediterranean.

THE STORY OF MARBLE

Within Lošinj’s treasure trove of precious imports is the marble, a collection of colors and diverse origins extracted from the finest quarries around the globe. From the phosphorescent white marble of Carrara to the intricate veins of Turkey’s Afyon, these stones have found a dignified place adorning the interiors of Lošinj’s villas, serving as a tangible reflection of the island’s worldly connections. Every polished marble surface gleams like a mirror, individually carrying a tale from ancient quarries of enduring art and architecture that have withstood the sands of time.Captain’s Villa Rouge is a radiant retreat inextricably linked with the past of Lošinj’s sailors and naval captains. Erected in 1897 by Graz entrepreneur W. Riedel, it was the first villa built in Čikat Bay, commencing the story of luxury tourism tucked into this turquoise cove. This villa is as glamorous as it is a feast for the eyes, enticing with its riveting crimson red exterior. Inside, a kaleidoscope of colors costumes the walls, instantly penetrating guests into the roots of its history and the journey each detail undertook to finally find its resting place in this lavish Lošinj home.

As you step inside, meticulously restored original terrazzo stone reveals its 19th-century past, as one thousand minuscule multicolored stones form into the shape of the sun. The bathroom walls are wrapped in a world of marble, with each veined design subtly telling a story of a faraway place. These metamorphic gemstones journeyed to Lošinj from all parts of the globe, launching anyone lucky enough to lock eyes on a visual odyssey through the elegant Trani Biancone from Italy, Azul Bahia from Brazil, and stones from Africa, Madagascar, Iran, Turkey, and China. A vibrant spectrum enchants with maritime blue, ocher, shades of pink, green, earth brown, and sand, each pigment etching the lines of this globally prismatic tale.The stonework story continues in Villa Sea Princess Nika, a 100-yearold retreat steeped in the aristocratic history of Čikat Bay. Flawlessly restored and reimagined into a contemporary masterpiece, Villa Princess Nika is fashioned and furnished to manifest Lošinj’s luxury. Its ground floor, where a kitchen, dining room, and large living room gather guests, is classically styled with a scope of precious marble. The striking veining pattern of Calacatta Viola captivates with its creamy white and rich red wine palette, sourced from one of Italy’s oldest quarries. The white calcite Bianco Lasa marble features linear bluish-gray veins that punctually intersperse prominent thick black threads. The ravishing Rosso Levanto is distinguished by its deep burgundy base and mesmerizing white veining, effortlessly imbuing a natural essence. The tactile ambiance lingers into the bathrooms, with each marble decoration fusing a combination of these treasured gemstones. A luminous complexion sweeps the walls in fossil stone, Persian green, rainbow and red onyx, blue lapis lazuli, and red travertine, forging a sensory experience that is as tangible as it is visual. A marble-tiled elevator and polished porcelain-like staircase shaped in Bianco Lasa round out the elegant marble interiors of this opulent villa.

THE ELEGANCE OF MURANO CHANDELIERS

Next, we encounter the Murano chandeliers, each exemplifying the pinnacle of glass craftsmanship hailing from the famous Venetian island. These resplendent gems, adorned with elaborate patterns and hues, suspend gracefully from the ceilings of the historic villas in Čikat Bay. Serving as both contemporary embellishments and poignant symbols of days gone by, these chandeliers encapsulate a centuries-old connection with Venetian culture — a nostalgic echo of the times when Lošinj’s vessels navigated into this lagoon, laden with treasures from far-flung lands.Master artisans have crafted these elaborate pieces since the 8th century, though a renaissance in the 19th century marked the revival of Murano, with visionaries bringing a modern flair to the magic of this glass. The delicate filigree and vibrant millefiori patterns are a testament to centuries of skill, innovation, and sophistication, solidifying Murano’s status as a timeless symbol of artistry. This poignant piece of Venetian history and craftsmanship intertwine in a mesmerizing dance of elegance at Captain’s Villa Rouge and Villa Sea Princess Nika.

Murano glass chandeliers are a beaming trademark of Captain’s Villa Rouge. Fashioned in a rare fruity and floral design, a total of 12 Murano chandeliers adorn the rooms. Each Italian luminaire intricately displays hundreds of small ornaments, all illustrating a palette of colors produced using this fastidious glass-blowing technique. The chandeliers were anything but easy to source for this Lošinj marvel and are highly sought after in antique shops around the world. It took several years to complete the Captain’s collection of all 12.Venetian Murano glass also dresses the contempo decor of Villa Sea Princess Nika. In the dining room, you’ll find Murano smalto glass mosaic tiles, an extraordinary example of classical Italian glass-making meeting the 21st century. Modern techniques combine with this centuries-old art form to produce the most extensive selection of glass mosaics, creatively illuminating interior spaces with a myriad of exquisite colors. The ethereal translucency of the lattimo or ‘milk glass’ technique further embellishes the interior decor. This milky-white opaque glass was obtained by Murano master glass-makers in the 14th century, resulting in a radiant revelation with a soft, diffused glow.

Inside Villa Sea Princess Nika, fruity and floral chandelier designs follow the flow of its neighbor Captain’s Villa Rouge, detailing a handful of the hallways and rooms. Each chandelier was carefully researched and selected to ensure that the shapes and colors seamlessly harmonize with every setting inside the villa, bringing extraordinary exclusivity to the interior decor. The selection process took several months, as each authentic product became increasingly rare and difficult to find. The chosen chandeliers each share a different past. All hail from the early 20th century, commissioned exclusively by the previous owners. Many were purchased from a castle in the province of Padua, recently renovated and used for ceremonies and events. Others made their way to Lošinj from Venetian villas and noble residences in northern Italy. Interestingly, some of the chandeliers adorning Villa Sea Princess Nika would be impossible to craft in the present day, because colors such as ruby red, cobalt blue, and opaline were obtained from processing currently banned chemical compounds.

SEAFARING ELEMENTS IN THE DECOR

But Lošinj’s maritime legacy extends beyond marble and glass. Embellishing the villa gardens and interiors are nautical relics that honor the island’s seafaring history. From sizable rudders and propellers to antique maritime charts and gleaming brass compasses, these artifacts offer a reverent tribute to the intrepid souls who once traversed the waters of the world. Lovingly preserved and prominently displayed, they serve as passionate reminders of an era when the stars above and the sea below were the sole navigational guides. A time when the horizon beckoned with the promise of uncharted territories awaiting exploration.Inside Captain’s Villa Rouge, a museum of maritime details awaits — and you won’t find a single replica in this collection. Authentically antique objects from navigation and control devices to old nautical charts, ship lamps, and diving helmets are just some of the seafaring heirlooms you’ll discover inside. The interior design is completed with faithful models of sailing ships and pictures of seascapes by famous Croatian painters. In the living room, a large compass still bears the mark of the New York manufacturers Kelvin&Wilfrid O. White, tracing back to the beginning of the 20th century. All of the mirrors in the bathrooms and hallways are formed from ship window frames, while a white stone anchor ornaments the outdoors.

While roaming the corridors and rooms of the historic villas within the Lošinj Hotels & Villas portfolio, it is evident that each retreat transcends the label of luxurious accommodations. They embody a living museum where the universal converges with the local. Where marbles mingle with Murano glass and the relics of ancient vessels to unveil the captivating story of Lošinj. The island’s story unfolds as a tale of exploration and revelation, of ties woven across the vast seas. Through the endeavors of its inhabitants, Lošinj extended its arms to embrace the world.Those who enter these realms are not just embarking on a journey of comfort and relaxation, but are immersing themselves in a narrative that stretches across epochs. Nestled in the heart of Lošinj, enveloped by opulence and elegance, the island’s heritage endures, extending an invitation to travelers to engage in its endless saga. In this realm where bygone eras meet the contemporary, guests become integral characters in this tale as old as time, steered by the pine-laden breezes, health-giving tides, and the unyielding spirit that defines Lošinj.

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