Just the tonic
I was sitting on one of the warm, honeyed stones of the peristyle in Split. I stared into my Gin and Tonic and did some hard thinking. Témi was looking at me full of curiosity and excited anticipation. She imagined I was taking in all the marvels that make Split what it is. A city that represents who we are. Our past, our future, our now.
She could see I was transfixed, perhaps contemplating the very meaning of life and the lives of those who had come before. Those who had built such a place, and sacrificed so much. The Roman streets stretched away from us, like arteries pumping life into the extremities of history.
Témi, concerned, could see I was in a deeply philosophical place. My face was lined with questions and intrigue. I took another swig of my G&T and suddenly, it all made sense. ‘What is it, darling?’, Témi said, tenderly caressing my face with her fingertips. ‘Well, I was just thinking’. ‘Yes?’ she said eagerly. ‘Is this Hendrick’s or Bombay?’ I could see from Témi’s expression that my question had taken things to a whole new level. ‘Dunno’, she said, hanging her head with a weariness that spoke volumes. ‘Only kidding’, I said. Témi glanced back, a flicker of hope flashed across her brow. ‘It’s Hendrick’s’.
If you don’t know Split, then you’re in for a visual, cultural and historical treat. The old centre is to all intents and purposes a Roman palace – a vast retirement home built by the very interesting rags-to-riches emperor, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus. Born into a lower-class Dalmatian family, Diocles rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to Emperor Carus. On the Emperor’s death (and after a battle or two), young Diocles or Diocletian as he came to be known, claimed the top job and decided to build the home of his dreams.
It’s the usual Grand Designs storyline: Man finds the perfect location on the coast; Man builds a small dwelling over seven acres with two-metre thick, seventy-two-metre high walls; Man likes towers; Man builds towers — sixteen of them; Man fills new home with a small army, a few slaves and the odd servant; Man leans back with goblet of wine in hand and a bunch of grapes (probably in someone else’s hand) to admire his work and those all-important Neptunian views. In your face, Kevin McCloud!
As well as the incredible history and Game of Thrones-style architecture (the hit TV show has been filmed there on numerous occasions), Split remains a real town. Notwithstanding the tourism, which between the months of June and September is close to overwhelming, this is a city with a beating heart and a strong community.
Music and food are central to the Dalmatian way of life, and as always on a Singing Holidays’ event, we’ll be taking full advantage of the many riches Split has to offer. Whether it’s a seafood risotto in a tiny side-street Konoba washed down with a delicious crispy Croatian white, or listening to the astounding a cappella of a local Klapa group in the Diocletian peristyle, Split oozes a musical and culinary culture that’s hard to beat.
What else can you expect on this fabulous 5-night Classical Choral Singing Holiday in Croatia? To start with, you’ll have a 3-hour workshop each morning with the fabulous Robert Dean. As one of the most sought-after singing professors and conductors in the UK, Robert spends every waking hour mentoring and teaching many of today’s, and tomorrow’s opera stars. He’s not only extremely talented, but he’s also sensitive and great fun. Whether you’re a newbie, whose only audience to date has been the inside of a shower curtain, or a seasoned chorister, Robert will eke out the very best in your singing and your performance. Talking of which, on the final evening of the holiday, you’ll be performing at one of the most exclusive venues in the city.
This is more than a holiday. It’s an opportunity to collaborate with, and immerse yourself in a musical culture, which UNESCO has included in its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Hendrick’s is good, but if you want to experience something really special, then this might be just the tonic.
Murum Bedroom Three
Murum Bedroom Two
Heritage Antique Bedroom One
Heritage Antique View
At Singing Holidays, we like to keep things cosy. We don’t like the mega out-of-town soulless hotels where you feel utterly removed from the action. Hotel chains with 100 rooms, off-the-peg hotel furniture, identical bedrooms, remote service, plastic breakfasts… Nah, not for us. Yuck!
Our Classical Choral Holiday in Split is no exception to the usual Singing Holidays’ high standards. We’ll be staying in two charming boutique hotels that are quite literally in the centre of town and, most conveniently, right next to each other. In fact, we’re going to be so central we’re actually staying in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Diocletian Palace which has dominated the old town for the last 1700 years.
Both our hotels are small, intimate jewels set within gleaming stone streets and secret courtyards. Perfect places to hole up for our five nights of classical music.