Diocletian was an emperor who managed to retire near his hometown, in modern day Croatia, and build a huge palace. He managed to abdicate. I am sort of fascinated by this. His palace is the old town of Split.
Now, Split is very famous because of Game of Thrones. I was not there for GOT so I enjoyed the Roman ruins without searching for dragons.
Apparently during peak season, the rows of tourists go in a conga line down the narrow streets, one row going in one direction, the other going in the opposite direction.
Perhaps ruined by tourism. But if you visit during off season and go in early in the morning, you will get the sites a bit more to yourself. Even the vomitorium. I went in search of it, but it was just a ruin.
Split reminds me of towns with marble lined streets in places like Apulia in southern Italy. I have a weakness for these white marble streets. I guess it makes it look clean. I did not see any trash but I also didn’t see any trash cans. But, I did see garbage collectors so I guess they do a continuous cleaning service? It should be noted that it poured and flooded while I was there adding a nice freshly washed look to the town.
The old town of Split is quite small so you can see most of it in a day or so. But, that allows you time to settle in a cute cafe (maybe in a ridiculously photogenic courtyard) and enjoy some gourmet coffee. I was pleased to see that most restaurants stayed open all day from breakfast through to midnight.
Tourism makes up 18 percent of Croatia’s GDP. I can see why. Split is a lovely town, even with 75 percent tourists. There are other things to see and many experiences that are made special by the tourist machine. I was in the oculus when a choral group began to sing. Magical. When I told the receptionist at my hotel about this, she said that even though she lived in Split, she had never had that experience. Probably because she was working.
Again, to see the locals and how they live, get up early. Visit the market even though it is touristy. Maybe even visit the supermarket out in the edge of town. You might find some locals there. Or look in the fish market. I am fairly sure that no tourists go in there.
Having now seen Diocletian’s retirement home in person, I am even more impressed by his choice.