Rab/Arba is a small island, 22 km long and located in the northwestern part of the Adriatic Sea/Croatia, very easy accessible from Rijeka or Zagreb. When you reach the ferry port Stinica, it’s a ten minutes ferry ride to Rab. When you approach the island, first what you see is mostly barren terrain -karst on the northeastern side of the island, while the southwestern side is covered by one of the last oak forests of the Mediterranean, justifying its name: the Illyrian-Liburnian word Arb meant „dark, obscure, green, forested“.

I have been visiting the island of Rab every year for the last five years, always at the same time: the end of June. I always look forward to this short retreat, four days refuge from busy everyday life. This is my friends- time, me-time: my bestie owns a house in Banjol, and she hosts our „Ladies Weekends“.

We read books, meditate, take long walks, discuss various subjects, cook, sunbathe, swim, talk a lot and sometimes just sit in silence or coach each other. Everything we do moves in flow, effortlessly and with ease. Oh yes, our weekend lasts four to five days!

I love islands, that much you already know about me. Why? Well, because most of them – when you move away from the busy ports and bigger cities – are still wild at heart, still without any light-pollution and never overcrowded.

What to I feel first when I step out of the car on Rab?
The scent of immortelle. Fields and fields of immortelle in karst. By the end of June, its blooming time is almost over, it’s the scent is not overly dense and overpowering. Warning: if you go picking immortelle flowers, do not pull. Cut. If you pull, you might pull out the whole plant with roots. Collecting immortelle is regulated by law, be kind to Nature and protect it!

Lavender. It is in full bloom. The scent of sea and pine trees rolling in gently with an evening breeze. Scorched red earth at noon. Laurel, olive, lemon and fig trees. The scent of palm trunks in the afternoon, suntan lotions and creams on the beach.

Oleander flowers, bright pink and deep red mostly. Sage, rosemary, and basil in the garden. A pitcher of lemonade on the table. Freshly baked cheesecake my friend just took out of the oven. My own skin, salty after swimming in the sea, hair becoming more and more curly after each swim…

While you are visiting the island, do try „Rapska torta“ – yes, this island has its own cake, made with almonds and Maraschino liqueur. There are many small shops offering chocolate with lavender, immortelle oil, lavender oil and differents products, olive oil, dried figs etc.

Visit the city of Rab: the town has a long history that dates back to 360BC. There are many churches and historical sights, Gothic and Renaissance palaces and the town itself is in the form of a ship. I personally do prefer to go there before June 15th (an unofficial start of the full tourist season…) but if you like big fieras, do not miss the medieval Festival (Fiera), held from 25th to 27th July, when Rab celebrates its patron St Cristopher.

Rab is called „The happy island“: it is perfect for a family holiday, hiking or biking trips, or lovers escape…as it is recorded that on the 11th of August 1936. King Edward and his future bride arrived at the island of Rab, anchoring right in front of Banjola beach.

They took a boat ashore where they were met with various dignitaries of the town of Rab and visited the sights. After the official part of the visit, King Edward and Lady Simpson got naked and dived into the sea in the bay of Kandarola on the Frkanj peninsula.

Naked swimming is still so much fun. On beaches marked “Nudists beach”, of course.

In the western part of the island, there are beaches with cliffs, in the southern part gravel shores and in the northern part there are many sandy beaches. The most famous one: Paradise Beach.

Summer, sea, sand and…Scents, scents, what were you thinking! 😀

And perfumes. I took with me one of my Acqua dell’Elba perfumes: Elba is a little bigger than Rab but really very similar. The Mediterranean climate, plants, trees and Nature tie these two islands more than either will ever confess 😀

Essenza di un isola – Acqua is a fragrance for women and men, great for hot weather and so compliant with surroundings on the island of Rab: salt and citruses, myrtle and jasmine with red algae, summery bright, light blue… It really smells exactly like my days on Rab! It’s kind of more Adriatic Sea related perfume than the rest in their collection…and during cold winter days it serves as a reminder of summer…for me, but my husband and son spray-on abundantly too 😀

I am a fan of Acqua dell’Elba perfumes ever since I visited Elba, you can read more about their perfumes and an interview with one of the owners here.

Since Croatia has more than 1000 islands, I don’t really think that I will report from each and every one I visit(ed): if you do, do let me know where did you go and what olfactory impressions did you take home!

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl
Samples provided by: Acqua dell’Elba
Opinions of my own.

„According to the legend, Venus lost her necklace during a sea bath and the pearls scattered in the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It created a beautiful string of islands with Elba as the most beautiful of its jewels.”

This August I visited the island of Elba, during our summer road trip to Tuscany.

Here we go again, my son said in Piombino when we boarded a ferry: “Here we go again, a ferry&an island”. Because we have a summer cottage on the island of Brac, Croatia and his all childhood memories of summer vacations are tied mostly to that island, which he loves deeply. There are many similarities between the two! I felt at home. Yes, I am in love with seas, yes, my soul anchors in seas and yes! I need a vitamin sea often!

During the ride, I mostly enjoyed the scent of the Tyrrhenian sea. On your way you pass the island Palmaiola:

Upon arrival in Portoferraio, we started to explore the island, ancient and rich in history.

The legend says that Argonauts rested here, pirates invaded it now and then, it has had many rulers throughout its history. Napoleon was exiled to Elba in 1814. He fell in love with it and carried many reforms to improve the quality of life on the island. He did escape after 300 days spent there…This is a view from the outer wall of the garden of his former residence:

Of course, Napoleon is still present here 🙂 Take a look:

Every island is predetermined by the sea that surrounds it. The scent of the sea is ever-present and changing, it is not the same in the mornings, evenings or nights, it is not the same in January or August, it is not the same depending on from which direction wind blows. The scent of the sea mingles with flora on the island, fragrances of sunbathed low plants in the noon, fig-trees respiring in hot summer evenings, eucalyptus trees murmuring in the wind, citruses protruding every here and there…

When I walked the streets of Portoferraio after an afternoon spent on the beach, I searched for Acqua dell’Elba stores, knowing these perfumes are the only possible souvenirs I will take home with me:

Not only did I enjoy these perfumes in situ, I also bring you a short interview with one of the owners. I was so fascinated with their effort that I just had to find out more!

The heart of Acqua dell’Elba is in the laboratory in Marciana Marina, where the owners, Chiara, Fabio, and Marco have worked since 2000. Together with master craftsmen who gave life to their perfumes. It was also here that the first Acqua dell’ Elba shop was born. The story of how the company has been born is interesting as well: the three owners went sailing in their boat. They reached Paolina’s cliff, where an ancient ivory statue kept the secret of the essence in its top. So they decided to recreate that fragrance, the scent of the sea surrounding Elba…you can find more details on their web page, but this is what they told me, Q and A’s.

Q: Is there a difference between Italian and French perfumery?

A: The only difference in our sector is between mass and niche products. Even if we’re trying to expand our markets and enlarge the number of people how know and appreciate Acqua dell’Elba, we are a still small company, operating in a niche, who share with other niche companies the same values: authenticity, passions, uniqueness.

Q: How would you describe the style of your creations?

A: Acqua dell’Elba is the Essence of the Sea. Its uniqueness lies in the creation of artisan fragrances inspired by the sea in one of the most beautiful island of the Mediterranean Sea. Each product is created by expert Tuscan craftsmen using natural raw materials of the highest quality.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge in perfume production today?

A: Being authentic, meaning by that the capacity to maintain a link with your roots, your territory, and your background. As for the wine sector, the perfumery industry should work much more on the concept of “terroir”.

Q: Which one is your favorite in the collection?

A: As a man who likes nature and a wooden tone, my favorite is Arcipelago Uomo. (An aromatic and flowery fragrance for him with notes of -Spices: sage, pepper, and rosemary -Flowers: lily-of-the-valley and jasmine -Woods: Mediterranean shrubs, cedarwood, and cypress)

Q: Which one would you say represents the very soul of Elba?

A: All Acqua dell’Elba’s products bring to people a piece of Elba: The elegance of the landscapes with Classica; the adventure of the nature with Arcipelago; the deep of the sea with Blu; the energy of the wind with Sport; the essence of an island with Acqua, Smeraldo, and Altrove.

Q: I recently purchased three different Acqua dell’Elba perfumes. While visiting Elba I went for a swim on Portoferraio city beach and after that, sea salt still in my hair, I walked into one of your shops. Smeraldo was my first choice because my afternoon smelled just like that. Which one is for you is the scent of a romantic evening on Elba?

A: Acqua, the perfume for the couple, the perfume of love… (A fragrance for ladies and gentlemen with notes of – Fruits and Spices: citrus fruits, myrtle berries, and sea salt -Flowers: marine algae, sea moss, myrtle, and jasmine – Woods: cedarwood)

The perfume of love. For the sea…A sea lover I am and I find that simply beautiful. Now I have a dream: I would love to work on the creation of a perfume speaking in olfactory language about the island of Brac as well!

The Plum Girl

Photos: ThePlumGirl private collection and Acqua dell’ Elba 

Perfume notes: as stated by Acqua dell’Elba