Astute readers will have noticed a certain lethargy in the text of recent posts. I have been coming down with an unspecified illness (details not for publication) and ended up more or less losing the last twenty-four hours. I am happy to report to you now from the upper deck of the ‘Adriatic Pearl’, a thirty passenger purpose built small cruise boat sailing out of Dubrovnik.
Consequently, Bill and I were the only ones who did not go ashore later on Saturday afternoon at our first stop, the town of Korcula, on the island of the same name. The brochure says that it is a small town of immense beauty whose medieval core is built in a fish-bone like pattern on a small peninsula jutting into the sea. A local guide was to explain its peculiar building layout and the legend of the great merchant traveller Marco Polo who was born and spent his childhood here.
Quoting from the brochure again, Pucisca (where we tied up) is “nestled in a beautiful bay surrounded by stone quarries that yield some of the whitest and best quality limestone in the world.”
I understood we were to go to a ‘stonemasonry school’. What I didn’t appreciate was that it was a regular high school, for children aged from fourteen, with all the regular theoretical classes, albeit with a technical focus on working with stone. Students attend either for three years (stonemason), or four years (stonemason technician).
Students doing the longer
course would be expected to continue to university and qualify as civil engineers or such like, but always with something connecting back to stonework. We viewed the stone workshop and heard about the techniques for crafting stone which they learn. These students are real craftsmen – at least the ones who do not reduce their allocated block of stone to a small cube before they get the chance to start chiselling it into a design. They are being taught in the traditional way of hand work, using tools of the Roman times as depicted in the photo (as well as more modern techniques).
There are around ninety enrolments per year, and mostly men, as it is physically demanding. This was a very interesting tour and introduced me to something of which I had been completely unaware. I feel we will be hearing a lot more about Brac stone as we move on further.