Ilovik -“There is no better place in the world for me, as I was born here“

The southernmost populated island of the Lošinj archipelago is Ilovik. The fishing village of the same name has around 170 inhabitants. Back in the late 18th century the village became populated by the first Croatian settlers who cultivated vineyards and gardens and took up fishing, sheep farming and finally tourism.
The people of Ilovik have their patron saints, St. Peter and St. Paul, celebrated on the 28th and 29th of June. Traditionally, on that day they celebrate the Holy Mass, march in procession, light the 'koleda' bonfire, and organize a popular folk celebration called 'Petrova'. During the 'Petrova' celebration, we spoke to some immigrants, emigrants and locals.

and Franko Jelich, born on Ilovik, left their native island in 1953 to look for work. Ten years after leaving they came back and kept coming back once a year as their work and family obligations did not allow them to visit more often. Upon retiring, they decided to leave America and come to Ilovik for six months to enjoy their hobbies. We can finally enjoy ourselves. We fish and do gardening, and we enjoy sharing stories about Ilovik and its past with visitors. Our children and grandchildren love visiting Ilovik and they always come back. They love Croatia. We could not believe that although they cannot speak the language, they love Croatia so much, Nives and Franko Jelich say laughingly. Saint Peter’s Day Celebration, ‘Petrova’, brings back childhood memories. Being a part of it still brings tears of joy to our eyes and invigorates our spirit. We carry all these memories with us to America and look forward to coming back. The Jelichs are also the grandparents of Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan

Gordana Pavoković, who moved to Ilovik from her native city of Rijeka, fell in love with the island and has recently published the book “Ilovik and Saint Peter- Two Islands of the Same Name, One to Live On, and the Other for Eternal Rest“. Together with her husband Ladislav and daughter Ivna, Gordana runs the Radoslović family farm and she is also currently working on new texts about the island’s natural beauties. Several years ago, I started gathering information and materials about this island because I wanted to leave a written record for future generations. It surely was not easy for the locals to open up to a foreigner and let me invade their privacy and their past, but in the end the book was very well received, especially by emigrants who yearn for an English translation since their children speak Croatian very poorly or not at all.

Elza Stojšić, whose family has owned a restaurant for more than 120 years, is the right person to ask about the gastronomic tradition of the island of Ilovik. The business was set up by Elza’s grandpa (nono), first as a tavern and a butcher’s shop. At the time they sold one sheep a week, that is how it all began. First, it was a place where people would get together and hang out, and eventually it turned into a restaurant. It was a simpler time, but also harder due to lack of electricity and water. It is true that having a restaurant on a small island is more difficult because of deliveries and transport, but we manage. Things are different today. We try hard and we believe that a kind word and the way we receive our guests are the most important. That is why our guests often come back, cheerful Elza explains.

Paolo Jadrošić is one of Ilovik’s oldest inhabitants, and he also emigrated about 70 years ago. At the age of 91 he regularly returns to Ilovik and says that he is 'only' 91 years old. When Paolo was a young man, his family first sent him to Mali Lošinj, and then to Italy to study. A marine engineer at first, Paolo later became a dentist. There is no better place in the world for me, as I was born here, says Paolo.
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