From the May/June 2011 issue of National Geographic Traveler. Author: Paul Kvinta
I've been warned that, like almost everyone living in Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands, Jure Kvinta suffers from "pomalo", a condition said to be so insidious, so overwhelming, so unstoppable, that it could undermine my entire mission. That would be tragic. I’ve come all the way to Croatia to find Jure, to conduct business of the utmost importance with him. Jure is the lighthouse keeper on Lastovo Island, one of the most far-flung and isolated in the Adriatic. By all accounts, Lastovo is an enchanting little outpost, a place of limestone peaks and hidden inlets with just 600 people living in a medieval village surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.
The lighthouse itself is like something out of a fairy tale, I’m told, a majestic beacon perched on a 229-foot cliff overlooking the shimmering Adriatic. Jure’s father kept the lighthouse, as did his father before him. Admittedly, I’ve become fairly obsessed with the structure ever since seeing a photo of it online. There are 48 Croatian lights scattered across the Adriatic, all built in the 19th century, each stunning and inspiring in its own way. But only the one on Lastovo has a connection to my decidedly obscure, Slavic last name—Kvinta. Given that there aren’t that many Kvintas on the planet, my mission is simple: travel to Lastovo, meet Jure, determine if we’re kin, and claim possible bragging rights to having a fabulous European lighthouse in my family.