Hellenistic celestials were quarrelsome. Often mocked smaller and gentler beings than they are. The legend says that one god of love Eros was deeply offended when Apollo, the god of sun and beauty, was mocking at him because of his small arc and arrow. When Apollo fell in love with the nymph Daphne, Eros can hardly wait to get revenge. From his small arch he threw two arrows. The first one, with a golden spike, hit the Apollo’s heart and amplified his love lust. With the second arrow with lead-tipped shot the innocent Daphne’s heart which alienated the nymph and caused its insensitivity. Poor Daphne was refusing Apollo and all its honourable and dishonourable intentions so he started chasing her constantly. Daphne looked for salvation at her father Peneios who in the last moment transformed her into a laurel tree. Apollo could forget neither his love nor the nymph Daphne so in her honour decided to wear a laurel wreath forever on his head.
Laurel is a symbol both of Opatija and of Lovran. It was a source of income even before it became a tourist destination. The locals used to pick and dry laurel leaves together with its berries and then sold them. Laurel has been attributed with special healing properties. Among others, its scent was used to repel mosquitoes which were known to transmit diseases, and with the development of tourism in Opatija and in Lovran, this lush green vegetation and intoxicating scent certainly contributed to the area’s attractiveness.
Opatija’s inhabitants particularly appreciated their laurel. The lush green vegetation and intoxicating scent descending into the sea are sure to have added to the attractiveness and development of tourism here.
The small town of Lovran is proud to carry the name of this evergreen fragrant tree.
Photos by: Studio Kontuš