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Piva Tastes & Tales

Nature RetreatsCulinary Delights

In Piva, north-western part of Montenegro, life remains simple and strongly connected with nature, unaffected by busy lifestyles of city folk.

Although embraced in the unspoilt beauty of nature, Piva is accessible by international motorway E-762. Its municipal centre, Plužine, is located halfway Podgorica - Sarajevo. This region of Montenegro is recognized among travellers for mountains, river canyons, valleys and plateaus and has become a magnet for lovers of hiking, rafting, canoeing and cycling. Durmitor National Park is part of UNESCO World Heritage Centre - as described by the UNESCO: “It is truly a breathtaking national park, formed by glaciers and is traversed by rivers and underground streams. Along the Tara river canyon, which has the deepest gorges in Europe, the dense pine forests are interspersed with clear lakes and harbour a wide range of endemic flora”.

Besides the nature lovers and adrenaline seekers, this region became known by increasing number of hedonists who discovered simple and beautiful life in Piva, enriched by tasty food and drinks life, without haste, noise and compulsion. Staying in one of the boutique tourist facilities, refreshed by scents of Durmitor, Volujak, Bioč, Maglić and glinting waters of Piva, Trnovačko and Stabanjsko lakes, rivers of Piva, Tara, Komarnica and Vrbnica becomes a lifelong memorable experience.

Piva lake is an artificial reservoir, created from river Piva. It has an impressive dam, 220 feet high. Under the water remained Plužine old village, two thirds of agricultural land, springs of hot and cold water. Only the Piva Monastery (from XVI century) was moved, stone by stone, and with 1500 square meters of frescoes, to the new location. Preserving this monastery was a huge undertaking of ex-Yugoslav conservationists. More than anything else, Piva lake and legends of submarine old Plužine village hold a prominent position in tales of this region. The lake is also a starting point for variety of activities, such as swimming, diving, boat trips, caves’ exploration etc.

Geographical position and climate of this region have influenced a variety of specific plant and animal species, both farmed and those available in nature. Products from Piva are recognized as high quality products, both locally and internationally. Piva cream cheese “skorup”, lamb, trout, honey, mead, plum and pear brandy have become a recognizable brand, promoting their producers and region as a whole. Kind and hospitable people of Piva, are increasingly turning to tourism, appreciating human and natural resources, relying on traditions of their forefathers who lived in harmony with nature.
Throughout history Piva was referred to as the land of milk and honey. I really had great wealth. Remains of the milk-pipe found near the village Stabna (Taban-city), one of the centres of the Duchy of Herceg - Stjepan Kosače – tell us that at that time the milk mixed with lime was used for building forts.

Piva tales will emerge while hiking, biking or canoeing in this dramatically beautiful region of mountains, rivers, lakes and meadows. Tales will merge with delicious tastes in long evening discussions with passionate owners of Etno Selo Izlazak1 and Zvono Restaurant/Guest House2.

Nomadic & Semi-nomadic life of Piva Shepherds
Piva shepherds preserved nomadic and semi-nomadic life in unique climate conditions of Montenegrin high-lands above 1000 m. Today they are still living in mountain huts however these huts now have better quality insulation and solar panels installed.

One of the most recognizable tastes of Piva is Pivski skorup, soft cheese, known as kajmak in the broader region. Pivski skorup matures in sheep's pelvis which gives it a unique taste. It is used in many variations – with trout, lamb, for breakfast with prochiutto etc.

Pivski skorup is one of the basic ingredients for Cicvara – a dish made of wheat and corn flour and skorup.

Cicvara & Christmas Traditions – early morning on 7th January the best friend of the family comes to visit, strews corn grain to family members and all rooms in the house and brings blessings and gifts. As a sign of gratitude he is offered Cicvara and wine.

The exact ratio of flour to water and cream is a key to preparation of good Cicvara. There are several anecdotes related to the preparation of this traditional dish. If it doesn’t turn right, all members of the family would help the cook by running around the house until Cicvara is well done.

Piva trout is grilled and seasoned with skorup cheese which makes it even more appetizing.

Clear Waters of Piva Lake & Legends of Submarine Old Plužine Village

Clear waters of Piva lake are a perfect habitat for Pivska Pastrmka, trout.

Restaurant Zvono menus are mainly based on this trout (80%). All their recipes are rooted in their family traditions and are modernized to some extent. One of the variations is 300 years old- dried trout-recipe, using traditional techniques.

Family tradition also tells that they still put mint in all soups as their grandmother from the old Plužine village did.

Hajduk Meadows – incredible diversity of flora species & scents

Hajduk = brave man, warrior against all kinds of aggressors.

Incredible diversity of flora species in Hajduk meadows gives Piva Pramenka Lamb – indigenous breed of sheep – a remarkable quality.

In restaurants Izlazak and Zvono, the owners will tell you many legends related to fairies and hajduks of this region.

Legend of Shepherd from Piva – Piva Čoban (Shepherd) worked for rich Turkish pasha. To provide for his family he was sending sheep by underground waters, connecting Gatacko Polje and Pivsko oko (Piva Eye - Piva river spring), every day. One day Turkish pasha discovered his secret and he threw the shepherd into these same underground waters.

Piva lamb – variety of recipes: dried, cooked in water and milk (varenica).

Hajduk meadows provide for home-made organic tees, healing all kinds of diseases. Nettle, for example, is good for blood, heals rheumatism. Naughty children would be punished with nettle.

Wild Bees & Ancient Beehives Hidden away in the Piva Canyon

Variety of flora makes Piva honey exceptionally good. Interestingly, old beehives have been found in the canyon of Piva river. At some places the remains of the tools that have been used for bee swarm removal were found.

An old recipe for making mead - honey beverage – has been preserved in this region. Piva mead recipes go back to the 7th century when the Slavs settled in this area. The mead is created by the fermentation of sugar from honey which, during aging, creates a small percentage of alcohol – a tasty digestive, rivalling wine and beer.

Trendy restaurant Zvono makes great variations of medovina, like medovina cocktails, veal stakes with medovina etc.

From Zvono web site: Old stories say that honey nectar was the drink of Gods in ancient times. Honey nectar (mead) was considered to be the drink of immortality, the elixir of youth, the source of spiritual powers of wise men and physical strength of ancient heroes. Newly-weds used to drink it during the honeymoon and the first month of the marriage in order to have male offspring. Medovina → honey (roots of the honey moon)
Mead used to be the drink of warriors.

Nowadays, nicely packaged bottles of Piva Mead became recognizable souvenir from this area.

Abundance of fruits and vegetable

Plums, rosehips, wild pears are used for delicious home-made juices, marmelades and jams. Old Plužine village was famous for best šljivovica in ex-Yugoslavia.
Pivska kruška – spirit made of wild pears – only 2,5 l of pivska kruška can be made out of 100 kg of wild pears.

Winter Hardship and Imagination

Local people developed unique techniques for cooling and preserving foods. One of such is a snow-pile (Snježnica) which enables cooling also in summer. Snow from this snow-pile would be used for Sheep‘s milk ice-cream – the recipe is very simple: take some snow and pour fresh sheep’s milk on it. You should learn how to milk a sheep first, of course.

And winter is the time for story-telling...

Everyone knows Bajo Pivljanin, famous and brave warrior from Piva. His name was first mentioned in Venetian sources dating to 1669. He participated in the Cretan War (1645–1669), and was a hajduk commander (counter-Ottoman guerilla fighting, hajdučija, unsanctioned by the Venetians) in the Bay of Kotor, defending the region from the Ottoman Empire, which earned him praise from the Republic of Venice who awarded him with a title.

Poems have captured stories of how he loved and conquered the region.

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