Dubrovnik is fast becoming a playground for the stars. At times the Stradun has reassembled a catwalk or the red carpet for the Oscar ceremony over the last few years. We have seen stars of the silver screen, world famous singers, princesses, Hollywood stars and Russian billionaires strolling down the streets of the Old City. It’s almost like the word has got out in celebrity circles that Dubrovnik is the place to be seen.
There are, undoubtedly, many benefits of famous faces visiting us. The power of endorsements works with destinations just as well as products. So celebrities endorsing Dubrovnik just by coming here and having their photo taken and then published across the world can’t be bad. At the end of the day it is free publicity for the city. Through history the pearl of the Adriatic has always had a strong connection with the celebrity world. Whereas today in Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn stroll the Stradun they are walking in the footsteps of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who did the same thing forty years ago.
That’s reminds me of a story a “real” Dubrovniker told me a few years ago. I soon realised that people born and bred in the Old City were, let’s say, indifferent to celebrities. There was no rushing for autographs, photos or hassle. I got the feeling that people who lived in the Old City considered themselves more blessed than the famous face simply because they lived in the Old City. So, back to the story, I’ve forgotten some of the details but the point of the story is still there. Elizabeth Taylor was visiting Dubrovnik and staying in Hotel Excelsior.
The first two days of her visit she didn’t leave her room, worried that people would swarm around her on the streets. On the third day, after being convinced, she decided to walk down from the hotel to the town. To her surprise, and maybe even slight frustration, nobody took a second glance at her, let alone ask her something.
Near to Orlando she stood to admire the view when a Dubrovnik “original”, (I think his name was Ivo Labaš) approached her. She probably though “oh no, an autograph hunter has spotted me”, the reality was completely the opposite. He asked her for a piece of paper, and while a little surprised she dug in her bag and found a piece and handed it to him. He carefully signed his autograph on the piece of paper and handed the paper back to her. Perfect example of the attitude forty years ago, a time when celebrities could walk unhindered around the city.
It’s only really recently that famous faces have been “hassled” on the visits here. As the great poet Lord Byron questioned “What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.”