Some 60km east of Orebić, the twin settlements of Ston and Mali Ston straddle the isthmus joining Pelješac to the mainland. An important salt-producing town on the southwestern side of the isthmus, Ston was swallowed up by Dubrovnik in 1333, becoming the most important fortress along the republic’s northern frontier. The republic built huge defensive walls stretching across the isthmus to the nearby harbour of Mali Ston, which became the northern bastion of a unified fortification system. Nowadays the twin town is primarily known for Mali Ston’s oyster beds – the aphrodisiac effect of the local molluscs makes the place an ideal venue for romantic weekend breaks.
Straddling the main road from Orebić to Dubrovnik, STON’s mix of Renaissance- and Gothic-style houses is laid out in a tight gridiron of narrow alleys stuffed with potted plants.
Thirty minutes’ walk northeast of Ston, MALI STON is nowadays a tranquil village of old stone houses looking out over the oyster beds of Mali Ston bay. The beds are marked out by wooden poles hung with ropes on which the oysters grow prior to harvesting in May and June. Following the narrow lanes up from Mali Ston’s harbour, you’ll soon reach a crescent-shaped fortress marking the northeasternmost extent of Ston’s sophisticated network of defences. It’s an uninhabited shell, though steps do lead up to a parapet from where there are good views.