The Pag cheese tradition

Šime Gligora continues his father's verses:

The island of Pag is most diverse Adriatic island with the highest number of basins, where the mild Mediterranean climate and the rough and cold continental climate of the snowy mountain tops meet thanks to the nearby Velebit, the most beautiful Croatian mountain.

Sveti Duh, Metajna and Velebit

As the warm and the cold air mass touch on Velebit, the famous northern wind is created, especially in the winter – the bora. Bora is a cold, strong, and moody wind going down the southern mountain slopes coming down to the still sea surface where in the blink of an eye it creates the fog made up of tiny sea drops which it dries and turns into the sea salt dust. Then bora spreads the salt on the island turning Pag into a white and salty island. If it does not rain in the next several days, and the salt is not washed away, when it gets humid, the salty dust will spread around the scarce vegetation as if being spilled over with boiling water. In such conditions, only extremely resistant and mostly aromatic plants can survive, including the most famous and precious one, the Pag's sage.

Numerous colonies of these aromatic plants with colored little flowers decorate the clean and white karst on Pag during the spring time, thus, along with other herbs, presenting the food for the sheep freely walking and eating down the Pag's pastures.

The Pag's sage

The cheese production tradition on the island is considered to be as old as sheep farming, while the the Liburni, an Illyrian tribe were most likely the first farmers here. They lived on the island around 800 BC, and even today above Kolan there can be seen one of the most preserved drystone fortresses belonging to the Liburni. However, the first written trace of Pag cheese dates back to 1774, when the travel writer Alberto Fortis in his work Travels into Dalmatia wrote how the most important Pag's products included: sea salt, sage honey, wool and cheese.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the Kolan farmers used to have their stone cottages made of drystone walls and used for milking areas and for living. The stone little houses were covered with reed and sedge from the nearby Kolan field and were called stani. Stani were located outside of the village down the slopes of the scarce Pag's pastures.

The majority of Pag's pastures can be found on the hilly parts of the island and are fenced with stones or drystone walls. Drytone walls resemble to the famous Pag lace as they covered the Pag's hills dividing them into smaller parts and paths used by people, transportation vehicles and sheep. Men used to take care of the sheep and the milking process in stani. The pastures became a private property in the beginning of the 20th century, while the owners fenced their pastures with drystone walls. Stani then were no longer in use as shepherd houses, since shepherds came back to Kolan and women started taking care of the milking process. Slowly but safely, Pag cheese became famous and used not only by locals but also as a popular product on the market thus becoming the more and more significant source of financial profit.

Our reliable partners - Nikola i Katica Gligora

This is the period of agricultural associations on the island, which purchased the cheese from local households and sold them on the local market. However, production plants opened eventually, enabling a more serious and balanced production, promotion and launching Pag cheese on a bigger market. Today, the majority of this limited top quality product is produced in the registered facilities.

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