Bačvice is the most popular beach in Split. It is the closest beach to the city center, only a 15-minute walk from Diocletian’s Palace, east bound. Reach Bačvice beach by walking to the end of the railway station and continue east to the coast.
Quite rare for these parts, it is a sandy beach with quite shallow waters, which spurred the birth of Split’s very own sport, Picigin. Picigin is an amateur sport played in the shallow waters of Bačvice consisting of players passing a small ball to one another, keeping it from touching the water. The best part of Picigin if you ask me is that the male contestants are expected to wear mudantine, a tight speedo; quite a pleasurable sight I must say.
Here’s a little clip of some old school Picigin action on Bačvice:
Picigin aside, Bačvice is a great spot for kids to make sandcastles in the dark sand as you soak up some sun on a rented lounge bed. In between the beach galore, a coffee in the Žbirac café is a must; the meeting point of locals who gather for a chat whilst observing the tanners below. If sand it not your thing, there is a concrete dock on either side of the bay, or a pine-dotted grassy area above it.
Bačvice is awarded with a blue flag, has shower, changing, and toilet facilities, several cafés, fast-food joints, clubs, restaurants, and sumptuous ice-cream stalls in the imposing Bačvice complex against the bay. Bačvice is one-stop-shop for beach goers of all ages, whether it is for families or young party seekers.
For a little action in the water, a waterpark is installed in summer with floating trampolines and slides for the young ones.
By heading further east you will be welcomed into the Ovčice bay, a small pebble beach with a little restaurant and a popular meeting point for gentlemen to play chess. The next bay of Firule beach is also popular amongst families; also a sandy beach with a playground for children and shaded seating against the wall. By walking a little further east, you will get to Zenta where O’Hara Music Club is for some post-beach night action.
Along the Dalmatian coast and on the islands are quite a few activities that everyone shares. Some of the games stems from Italy or France while others are indigenous to Split. Nonetheless, they play an important role in Split culture and its identity; it brings people together for social game, whether outdoors or around a table.
Balota is a game you will often see played all over Dalmatia as well as in Italy and France. Balota is known as Bocce in Italy or Boules in France. The game involves two teams throwing heavy balls as close to a marker ball (known as bulin in Dalmatian or cochonnet in French) as possible on a pitch of about 4 meters wide and 15 meters long. These pitches can be found outdoors all over Dalmatia in city parks and in small coastal villages. The pitches are usually public and are therefore free to use. It’s such a charming site to see elderly men and women who gather for a game and a chat. You will often see overcrowding around the pitches and loud conversation in the making.
Karambol is the billiard version of Balota played in Dalmatia. A Karambol table is similar to a billiard table but has no holes or pockets. Players roll the ball with their hand and without a cue. Again, like Balota, teams have to get as close to the Bulin as possible but first they need to kit two sides of the table first. See here the Karambol rules made easy in Split’s underground café, Zanat, which is where the game is more popularly played.
Briškula and Trešeta are popular card games played in Dalmatia, particularly in Split. The game, originally from Trieste in Italy uses Italian cards, and not the regular decks you would find in a casino or anywhere else in the world. An Italian deck has 40 cards of four suits; coins (Denari), swords (Spade), cups (Coppe) and clubs (Bastoni). Briškula is the simplest and most popular (Briscola in Italian) and is played in the normal Italian fashion though there is also a popular variation called briškula Dalmatian style or briškula na duplo (double briškula). Usually, after completing a round of Briškula, thenTrešeta is played. Trešeta (Tresette in Italian) works on a point system where the winner is the firs to achieve 41 points where akuža scores highest; having three or three aces or three highest ranked cards. If the Trešeta round results in a tie, another round of Briškula needs to be played in order to determine the winner.If you want to learn how to play Briškula and Trešeta, Wikipedia explain the rules of Briscola and Tresette where the Dalmatian variations are explained. If you want to experience a real local vibe where the game is being played, you head to Zanat in Split; an off-the-beaten-path café in the palace where youth come to play the game. Zanat has a tendency to close when its too warm outside but try and find this watering hole anyway by begging a local to reveal its location. Hint: it’s in a side street between Peristil and Pjaca.
Picigin is an amateur sport played in the shallow waters of Bačvice consisting of players tossing a small ball to one another, keeping it from touching the water. Quite rare for these parts, Split’s Bačvice is a sandy beach with quite shallow waters, which spurred the birth of Split’s very own sport. It is not a competitive sport as there are no winners, points or opposing sides, but rather a relaxing way for friends to relax and exercise. As the game grows with intensity, passing tourists are treated to the spectacle of grown men flying in the air in an often vain attempt to keep a small ball in the air and if you ask the women what the best part of the game is, it is that the male contestants are expected to wear mudantine, a tight speedo. The Picigin World Championships were introduced in 2005 and, as the sport is non-competitive, it was decided to determine the champions on a combination of number of touches and acrobatic style. Also, it is a tradition to keep the ball out of the water on New Year's Day, whatever the weather.
Here is a little Picigin clip:
It is akin to couple of Brits playing cricket at the Mets Stadium.
Or some kids coming to Wembley Stadium to play rounders.
Has the home to Split's iconic sport, with its own world championship, been invaded by an altogether more sophisticated sport?
In the temple of Picigin, Bacvice beach, a new sport has been revealed to the world, and it is destined to be a spectactor sport with a potential global audience.
The rules, we haven't a clue, but there is no doubting the style and panache of the star performers.
Weather forecast was correct this time - Split was freezing on New Year's Eve, but several thousand people gathered at Riva, and old town squares didn't mind too much. Drinks and dance made them warm enough to enjoy, and there were just enough open bars to find shelter, like with our friends at To je to. Of course, midnight exhibition opening at Fotoklub Split went as scheduled, too. Here is the excellent photo gallery, to give you a brief look on how Split entered 2015.
However, it all began on Sylvester Day, just as we announced. Probably the best mood was at Pjaca (Piazza), central city's square, where combination of drinks and some not-so-recent hits created great atmosphere in front of No Stress bar, with hundreds dancing and celebrating early New year at 3 pm.
Morning after was also a moment to remember. It didn't matter that this was the coldest New Year in Split for years, dedicated player of popular beach game picigin couldn't resist - about a dozen of them bravely stripped into bathing suites and went into the sea. Outside temperature was about 5, but with strong and cold northeast wind bura, so 12 degrees Celsius of water temperature probably felt as a relief.
Nevertheless, we were among those who watched from the safe distance, after some congratulating with my friends among picigin players. Warm jacket seemed more safety choice.
There weren't only picigin players there, but also two teams of beach football players. A little bit more comfortable, but still...
Here is the video we made on Bačvice today.
For football world champion we will have to wait for some time, until the end of the World Cup in Brazil. On the other side of the world, in Split, new world champion in immanently Split beach game picigin was declared, it's team called after its main sponsor, caffe bar Zbirac. Is there any question mark above your head, like "what are these people talking about?"
This Saturday, after bad-weather delay last weekend, a final competition on 10th World Championship in picigin was held, and Zbirac won. What is picigin World Championship? Check out details here.
It was spectacular as usual, except a tide was a little bit too high, so there was no short runs and flying as usual. Nevertheless, all the players were greeted by several hundreds people gathered in the sea and out of it.
This was also an oportunity for some partying on Bacvice, massive dance in the sea, just to mark an official swimming season start, on the first day of summer. May it be a long and sunny season.
Modesty was never one of the virtues of Split, but as long as there is no harm done, who cares. For example, do you know what is picigin (pron. peetseeghin)? It's a simple beach game, where five people are passing small ball to each other, trying to keep it in the air as long as possible, and in the same time making it as hard as possible for their playmates. Ball can't be bought anywhere, the one has to make it by him or herself, usually by peeling tennis ball, and then sand off the rubber until it becomes light enough to hit it.
Simple? Maybe everywhere else, but not in Split. People here believe they invented picigin, and that it's impossible to play it anywhere else but on Bacvice, the city's most popular sandy beach. Not only they believe it, but they also convinced Croatian minstry of culture to protect Bacvice picigin as part of the heritage. You think that's all? For the last ten years, passionate picigin afficionados have their tournament mid June, and call it - what else - Picigin World Championship. There is a little confession I have to make. In 2004, when the first tournament took place, I was working with the then main sponsor, Jutarnji list daily newspaper. As such, I convinced people on Bacvice that tournament should bear this name, with simple explanation. If the best picigin has been played on Bacvice, the winner of Bacvice is the best in the world. Simple as that.
This Saturday, for the tenth time, begins this strange, but popular competition. Announced program is richer than ever, and it seems that main goal is to commemorate all the sports that were ever played on Bacvice. So, there will be matches and short tournaments in sand football, sea rugby, waterpolo, rowing, triathlon, and of course, picigin. World championship qualifying competition is scheduled for June 7 and 8, and finals are on June 14. , More than that, there will be presentation of Mediterranean food, with klapa singers, and this beach will get the Blue flag, sign of the clean sea water and well-kept environment. In short, a week long celebration of Bacvice. Just to forget about that other event close to Copacabana.
Bol's famous Zlatni Rat beach is Croatia's most famous, and know to change shape with the tides and winds, but the last few days have been truly incredible. A game of the local watersport 'picigin' in a lake in the middle of the beach on January 13, 2016.