What a treat it is for the weary traveler to arrive at Villa Nora, located in the heart of Old Town Hvar on the island of the same name. In the newly restored 14th century aristocratic residence of the Gazzari family, one discovers rooms where the old and new have been seamlessly stitched together. Modern furnishings and comforts add a homey warmth to the spacious, light-filled interiors of each of these unique rooms, where the ancient stone of the walls and window lintels has been left exposed, offering guests a glimpse into the building’s architectural past. A tiny rooftop terrace is open for guests who wish to soak up the sunshine or to simply enjoy a bird’s eye view of Hvar’s rooftops, punctuated by the Venetian-style campanile of its 16th century Cathedral.
It is Villa Nora’s staff that will linger in my memory. From reception to restaurant, we were greeted with a friendly welcome and a rare generosity of spirit. The owner, Antun Matković, is a larger than life (literally) personality who is the heart and soul of this new hotel, but more forcefully of the restaurant, the Lucullus, which he had established years earlier as the dining spot in Hvar not to be missed. The generosity of his cuisine, both in goodness and in portions, mirrors his girth and that is substantial. In fact, outside the restaurant is a sign affirming that he never deviates from two guiding principles – that no food can be cooked well unless the owner has had a hand in it and that the cook must weigh more than a hundred kilos. From a menu offering Dalmatian specialties of both land and sea, we chose the seafood. The fresh fish and vegetables baked in a wood-burning oven were simply delicious. Try some with a glass or two of Hvar’s local white wine from the nearby vineyards of Jelsa.
Breakfast is served in this same restaurant and its offerings are generous – everything fresh, healthy and inviting. We were treated with such courtesy; even at an extremely early hour the morning we departed in time to catch the ferry to Dubrovnik. Hotel Villa Nora wraps up all the charms of this bewitching island in one delightful package and presents it to each guest with a heart-warming smile.
All images and reviews copyright 2015 by Ginda Simpson
Trg Sv. Stjepana 2, 21450, Hvar, Croatia
View from Villa Nora's rooftop terrace ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson