Beautifully situated on a large natural bay, the ancient town of Hvar, on the island of the same name, served as an important harbor for Venice's Adriatic fleet from the 12th through the 18th centuries. Vestiges of this momentous time are reflected in the fortifications that still stand guard over the harbor, and in the very heart of the port, a large arsenal. Hvar today is a quiet spot reminiscent of the French Riviera at the turn-of-the-last-century. Sail and fishing boats bob and sway in the harbor and a 17th-century bell tower marks off the hours. Winding limestone lanes converge onto an expansive piazza, the largest in Dalmatia, which connects the older part of town to the ""modern"" side - that built after the 15th century. Inland, Hvar's green hills are woven with vineyards and lavender fields, and offshore tiny islets are scattered like pearls in a clear cobalt sea.