Monday, 5 December 2022

A Brief History Of The Extinct Istrian-Albanian Language

December the 5th, 2022 - Ever heard of Gheg (or sometimes Geg) Albanian? It's one of the two main varieties of the Albanian language, the other being Tosk. Spoken in the Northern and Central parts of Albania, as well as in Kosovo, parts of Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia, it over three million native speakers. What does that have to do with Istria, you may ask? Let's get to know the now extinct Istrian-Albanian language a little better.

We've looked into the three main dialects which make up modern standard Croatian as we know it today, Shtokavian, Kajkavian (and Northwestern Kajkavian) and Chakavian. We've delved into dialects and subdialects such as Ragusan (the Dubrovnik subdialect), old Dalmatian, and some very sparsely spoken languages such as Istriot, Zaratin, Istro-Romanian and Istro-Venetian. Istrian-Albanian is now unfortunately entirely extinct, and there isn't that much known about it.

First of all, I should explain that the Istrian-Albanian language ''died'' in the nineteenth century, having arrived on the Istrian peninsula with the ethnic Albanians who moved there  between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries. The Albanians who spoke this Northern Gheg form of Albanian were primarily settled there by Venice, which had an enormous amount of power at the time and of course then ruled over Istria, in an attempt to combat the increasing issue of depopulation of the wider area.

Of course, other ethnicities and nationalities also moved (or were moved) there by the then mighty Republic of Venice, and they also brought their various languages and dialects with them. This is part of Istria's very long and freckled history which makes it so diverse and rich. If any part of Croatia can be (and has more or less always been) considered to be multicultural, then it is the Istrian peninsula. The sheer amount of ethnicities present there is a testimony to the history of that part of the country.

The various languages and dialects spoken by the settlers of that time eventually saw the evolution of the Istrian-Albanian language, with the only known surviving text written entirely in Istrian-Albanian having been written by the Italian priest, inventor and historian Pietro Stancovich/Petar Matija Stankovic (1771-1852) in the 1830s.

Most sources claim that it was spoken in the very small settlement of Katun (close to Porec) until the nineteenth century, especially given the fact that the very name ''Katun'' draws its origins from Albanian, but there is very little known or officially recorded other than that. The reason for that could be similar to what has been observed with the Istro-Romanian language, in that many of its speakers were peasants who had little to no access to education, leading to the language simply being left to the often cruel hands of time. That said, we do know that the ''original'' version of the Istrian-Albanian languages was spoken in the wider Bar region in neighbouring Montenegro, as well as in and around Skadar in Albania. 

Little is left in the modern day in regard to the extinct Istrian-Albanian language, as preservation attempts were never really a motive for anyone, which thankfully isn't the case for languages like Istro-Romanian, with both the Croatian and the Romanian governments attempting to keep it alive.

For more on the Croatian language, as well as the many dialects and subdialects spoken across the country, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Be Careful if You Like Feeding Birds, in Pula You Could get Fined

December 1, 2022 - Though they can be cheerful and cute, birds can create a mess in public areas. In Pula, they remind of measures to keep things under control - the prohibition on feeding birds.

As Poslovni / Glas Istre write, despite the engagement of falconers, the installation of loudspeakers with sounds of bird predators, and even colourful balloons - starlings and other birds still cannot be driven away from their favorite habitats in the city center.

One of those is the Giardini, or rather the crowns of centuries-old trees, from which flocks of birds decorate the heads of passers-by and numerous tourists and restaurant terraces in summer. And it is not that individuals do not contribute to birds moving in, as they like to feed pigeons and other bird species in this particular location. Many, however, do not know that this is prohibited by the city's Decision on communal order.

The Communal Palace specifies that according to the said decision, it is not allowed to leave any waste or "contaminate in any other way surfaces where it is forbidden to feed birds, dogs, cats, and other animals."
Violation of this provision is punishable for legal entities under Article 177 and for natural persons under Article 180 of the decision above. The prescribed amount of the fine is from HRK 5 to HRK 10,000 for legal entities, while for natural persons, the fine is HRK 300 to HRK 1,000," the Communal Palace states.

They add that the city police do not keep special records for acts that violate the ban on feeding birds.

The City specifies that it is forbidden to feed birds, dogs, cats,and other animals in public areas, because this pollutes public spaces and birds then gather at the feeding grounds.

"Given the aggressiveness of certain bird species, this is used to protect people from the danger of excessive growth of a certain bird population, but also the need to keep animals under the control and supervision of experts. In addition, such actions also affect citizens' quality of life in terms of day and night rest, hygiene, pollution of facades, as well as other consequences that arise from it", the City states.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Monday, 21 November 2022

Istrian Ox (Boškarin) Meat Name Protected by EU

November 21, 2022 - The joint Croatian and Slovenian action led to the Istrian ox, Boškarin, getting protected by the EU.

The Croatian media report today how the meat from a traditional breed of cattle originating from Istria, Boškarin, secured a type of EU protection. Its name was entered 'in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications (‘Meso istarskog goveda – boškarina/Meso istrskega goveda – boškarina’ (PDO))'. It is the third product placed on that register jointly, by Croatia and Slovenia, after the Istrian pršut and Istrian olive oil were already protected. Istrian sheep cheese and Istrian honey are currently in the administrative stages of the same protection. 

The Boškarin meat is fresh, aged for at least 15 days in a controlled environment, from the cattle calved within the Istrian peninsula (within the borders of the Istria County, certain parts of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County and within the Slovenian Istria).

Boškarin is an ancient cattle breed that was on the brink of extinction at one point. In the 1960s, during the breed's heyday, there were over 60,000 specimens in Istria, but numerous factors led to the decline of the population. In the early 1990s, there were only a few purebred specimens in the Croatian part of Istria, and none in the Slovenian region. Then an association of their breeders was established, and their hard work led to a sharp increase in population, and there are almost 400 cows and bulls in Istria. Boškarin meat is considered a delicacy, and something you should really seek out when in Istria.

 

 

Monday, 21 November 2022

Exploring Croatian - A Brief History of the Istro-Venetian Language

November the 21st, 2022 - Delving further into the intricacies of the Croatian language, and veering away from standard Croatian as we know it today, let's look at another lesser spoken tongue - Istro-Venetian language.

We've looked into the main three dialects that make up modern standard Croatian as we know it today - Shtokavian, Chakavian and Kajkavian (as well as Northwestern Kajkavian), as well as some old and almost forgotten Dalmatian words, the Dubrovnik subdialect (Ragusan), and some dialects and languages which are so sparsely spoken today that they barely exist anymore. These include the Istriot language from parts of the Istrian peninsula, and of course Zaratin, once widely spoken in the Zadar area. All this clearly tells us that the Croatian language goes far beyond what most people know it as, and it has a history that is as varied as it is deep.

So, what about the mysterious Istro-Venetian language? The name might give it away, especially if you're familiar with the somewhat complicated history between Italy, Venice and the Istrian peninsula. This language which is often also called the Istrovenetic language, is heavily influenced by Venetian.

Istro-Venetian shares a common basic lexicon and language structure as other languages within the wider ''family'', but what makes the Istro-Venetian language interesting is that it is not only the most widespread (by far) of the so-called Istro-Romanic idioms still spoken today, but that it also occurs on both sides of the modern Croatian-Slovenian border. Both of these languages (the Croatian and the neighbouring Slovenian ''version'') ​​are classified within the wider Venetian dialectal diasystem despite having a few slight differences.

If you know anything about the formerly mighty Venice and its constant expansion and extensive trade networks (you'll know a lot about this if you've ever studied the former Dubrovnik Republic), you'll know that it took not only its culture and style of architecture with it, but its language too. This was to the detriment of both Romance and Slavic languages which once reigned strong in the areas in which Venetian influence took hold. The saga is no different for the Istro-Venetian language, and its history begins with the arrival and expansion of Venetian rule across the what is the modern day Croatian Istrian peninsula.

With the ever-strengthening presence of all things Venetian across much of the Croatian coast, particularly down in Dalmatia, the Istro-Venetian language took hold and prevailed very well across urban areas, and the Republic of Venice contributed to this consolidation when it controlled most of the Istrian peninsula after around 1420.

Today, the Istro-Venetian language is primarily preserved among bilingual native Istrians, most of whom are older individuals who number approximately 25,000-30,000 people. Unlike Zaratin, which you'd be extremely unlikely to hear used at all anymore and which nosedived after the Second World War, these 30,000 people do continue to use Istro-Venetian in addition to their mother tongue.

The initial linguistic ''venetisation'' of Istria took place between the 10th and the 15th centuries, and Venetian was the official language of the administration, which is logical given the ruling body at the time. The rest of the phases rolled out with the process coming to a natural end with the end of Venetian rule in Istria in the 1800s. Despite the end of an era having occurred as far as Venice was concerned, Istrian languages (of which there are several, including Istriot) prevailed. For some lesser spoken dialects and subdialects, the passage of time unfortunately sealed their demise, but for some, such as the Istro-Venetian language, that wasn't the case.

As stated, by the 1800s, the clock had started ticking for the once mighty Venice and it weakened as a state and a ruling body in both political and economic power and influence, and a natural consequence of that came in the form of culture and language, too.

As time passed, one important linguistic period was the one which was marked by the contact of Trieste (Italy), which had gained in power and influence as a free port following Venice's weakening, and the existing Istro-Venetian language, Croatian and Slovenian languages ​​spoken across Istria came into much deeper contact as a result. The economic expansion of that time created an extremely abundant flow of goods, people and information throughout Istria, and communication was largely dialectal. Owing to that, a relatively large part of the former Romance language continuum was restored across a lot of Western Istria. Due to the bilingualism of the original speakers of Croatian and neighbouring Slovenian, the number of speakers of what had then come to be the Istro-Venetian language gradually increased.

While nowhere near as well known as some other dialects, subdialects and languages (as some linguists and other experts argue many of them to be), the Istro-Venetian language has had a lot of efforts put into preserving it for generations of Istrians yet to come. Since back in 2012, the Festival of the Istro-Venetian Dialect (Festival dell'Istroveneto), an international cultural manifestation dedicated to the protection, evaluation and promotion of the Istrovenetic dialect, has been held in the picturesque Istrian town of Buje.

Buje is of course the ideal location for such a festival, being located in the western part of the Istrian peninsula, where the Istro-Venetian language has arguably remained the strongest, and because this hilltop town is known as the sentinel of Istria. Buje was part of the Venetian Republic from 1358 until 1797, with a high number of people identifying as Italian still living there to this very day.

For more on the Croatian language, dialects and subdialects, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Brijuni Islands Still Busy - Excursions Booked Throughout October

September the 29th, 2022 - The gorgeous Brijuni islands which are also one of Croatia's several stunning national parks have had an excellent season, with excursions still being very well booked throughout the month of October.

As Morski writes, the beautiful Brijuni islands have never had a better main summer season and post-season. All excursions for this particular national park are sold out, and the boats heading there from the mainland are all full. Special events are being prepared for the month of October, which will further attract visitors to the Brijuni islands and promote their astonishing beauty.

The location in Fazana on the Istrian mainland from which you can hop aboard a vessel to the Brijuni islands is always crowded, and people are having to wait in lines. Every day, up to a thousand excursionists come by boat. During the four-hour guided tour, visitors get better acquainted with history of these unusual islands, see their cultural monuments, and get to spend time in their natural beauty.

Organised groups of visitors are making frequent returns to the Brijuni islands, and every single day there are many people who want to visit the National Park even as the season winds down.

''It would be good to make a reservation a few days earlier, especially for weekends when we have a larger number of visitors,'' pointed out Marija Stokovic, head of the Department for Visiting, Sport and Recreation of the Brijuni National Park.

''This year, we managed to reach a 40 to 45 percent increase in the number of visitors, which essentially means that we managed to reach 240 visitors from 180,000 visitors, which is the park's maximum record,'' said Marno Milotic, the director of NP Brijuni. In order to extend the season, NP Brijuni is preparing numerous recreational and sporting events, such as open days and a family golf weekend.

''Throughout the year, we hold various events through which we try to educate our visitors, work on the sustainability of tourism and promote the interesting parts of this national park,'' pointed out Reanna Bajkovic Relic, a spokeswoman for NP Brijuni. Autumn will therefore be a very active one on the Brijuni islands, and many events and excursions will be available at affordable prices, reports HRT.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Istrian Seawater of Excellent Quality Except in Certain Areas

September the 22nd, 2022 - The Istrian seawater is of excellent quality, except for close to the beaches in popular destinations such as Umag, Porec, Rovinj and Fazana.

As Morski writes, the Istrian seawater quality was recently tested at beaches around Istria County. Istria County's Teaching Institute for Public Health conducted the ninth survey in a row from September the 5th to the 13th, 2022, where the Istrian seawater was sampled at 217 measuring points on the beaches from Savudrija to Brestova.

Air and sea temperatures are also normally recorded during this sort of sampling, and this time the sea temperature ranged from 23.0 ºC to 25.8 ºC, while the air temperature ranged from 17 ºC to 28 ºC.

At 210 measuring points, more specifically in 96.8% of the samples, and based on the individual results of microbiological indicators, the excellent quality of the Istrian seawater for swimming was recorded at 6 measuring points. In 2.8% of the samples taken, good seawater quality was recorded for swimming, and at 1 measuring point, so in a mere 0.5% of the samples taken, only satisfactory quality of the seawater for swimming was recorded.

Pursuant to Article 5 of the appropriate regulation, intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli are determined in sea samples as microbiological indicators of seawater pollution, and during the sampling procedures, meteorological conditions, sea temperature and salinity, and visible pollution are all also recorded.

Based on the results of testing the microbiological indicators for individual sampling, seawater quality for swimming is classified as excellent and marked with a circular symbol on the map in blue, good quality seawater is marked on the map in green, satisfactory is marked in yellow and unsatisfactory is marked in red.

As part of this regular ninth examination of the quality of the Istrian sewater for swimming, the results of the sampling of microbiological indicators on September the 6th, 2022 showed that at the Porec, Molindrio, Hotel Molindrio (below the hotel) measuring point, the indicators exceeded the limit values, that is, that microbiological pollution was indeed present there.

However, the results of re-sampling done on September the 7th, 2022 showed that the elevated values ​​of microbiological indicators were steadily decreasing, and the microbiological pollution for the aforementioned locations was characterised only in the short-term and therefore not officially included in the report.

Re-sampling carried out on September the 8th, 2022 showed the end of short-term pollution at the specified measuring point, and in the final report, the specified location was rated as good quality.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

30,000+ Illegal Buildings in Istria, Labin Mayor Announces Measures

September the 21st, 2022 - There are a shocking 30,000+ illegally constructed buildings in Istria, and Labin Mayor Valter Glavicic has announced measures to combat such ''wild'' construction practices.

As Morski writes, the topic of the illegal felling of as many as six hectares of forest which stretches across the protected Labin-Rabac-Prtlog area by a private company called Mari Top from Zagreb has opened pandora's box when it comes to illegality in Istria. The subject was broached by not only the Labin Mayor, but also by the director of the Natura Histrica Public Institution, Silvia Buttignoni.

This led to discussions about illegal deforestation, subdivision, and of course, the topic that plagues Croatia - illegal construction. Unfortunately, the wider area of Istria County has been dealing with this for decades, but it was only a few years ago that the problem apparently came to the fore of the public's mind, as reported by Glas Istre/The Voice of Istria.

When the topic became much more of a burning one, local self-government unit leaders decided to tackle the problem more intensively, and now increasingly drastic measures are being announced. Local leaders are therefore asking the state to put the proper mechanisms in place in order to make it possible for them to finally start demolishing these illegal structures.

It is interesting to mention that the Labin Mayor, Valter Glavicic, also announced that they are keeping several suspicious locations in the wider area under surveillance and that the authorities will react by reporting any sign of illegal activities, all in order to start solving the problems from the very beginning. Unfortunately, all these plans are still no obstacle to private companies coming in to destroy forests and build illegal buildings everywhere.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 16 September 2022

Roman Era Harbour Equipment Discovered in Istrian Waters

September the 16th, 2022 - A remarkable find in the Istrian waters as important and obviously ancient Roman era harbour equipment is discovered and archaeological research is now being carried out.

As Morski writes, a team from the Archaeological Museum of Istria in the City of Pula is currently conducting underwater archaeological research in the area of ​​the old Barbariga beach, more precisely at the location of the Roman port. The leader of the research is Dr. Ida Koncani Uhac.

What is of great interest to this team of underwater archaeologists are the remains of an ancient pice of harbour equipment lying in the waters of Barbariga bay, which most likely served the nearby ancient oil mill as part of the operational piece of coast for loading and transporting oil by sea. Back during the 1950s, archaeologist Stefan Mlakar from the Pula AMI researched the site of the Barbariga oil mill.

In the Barbariga cove, located under the sea, a team of archaeologists and divers have established a monumental structure spanning an impressive length of 57 metres, preserved in situ in three rows of stone blocks, and the foundation block was also established by probing. The width of the structure is from 16 to 24 metres, with an L-shaped protrusion. The port device is built of stone blocks measuring 3.1 metres by 2.6 metres in total.

The results of this research so far are another confirmation that the area of ​​the town of Vodnjan was known for the production of high-quality olive oil even back during ancient times. The locality of Barbariga - an oil mill in the hinterland of the bay, once boasted 20 presses, which made it the largest oil mill in all of Istria, and probably beyond. The site is dated to the 1st century. At the nearby Punta Barbariga, there are also the remains of a Roman peristyle villa. According to estimates, an oil mill of that size processed olives planted on an area of ​​240 to 300 hectares, and the size of the entire property is estimated to span around 900 hectares.

Large quantities of building ceramics, fragments of tableware and kitchenware, and amphorae were also found in these Istrian waters. Among the findings, amphorae stand out. Most of the findings can be quite easily dated back to the 1st century, which corresponds to the nearby site of an ancient oil mill.

This interesting research is being carried out as part of the "Istrian Underwater/Istarsko podmorje" project, which involves the documentation, listing and topography of all underwater sites related to Roman history.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 5 September 2022

Despite Drought, Istrian Grape Harvest Promises Quality Crop

September the 5th, 2022 - The Istrian grape harvest is promising a high quality crop despite the long period of drought which has threatened Croatian fruit and vegetable production up and down the country so far this summer.

As Morski writes, the Istrian grape harvest has begun, and despite the damage caused by the prolonged drought, the grapes appear to be healthy and the yields, although slightly lower, are of good quality as the recent rains have replenished the berries and mitigated most of the losses.

''I think that the drought has shown its effects and left traces of about 10 percent, we've calculated that there will be less grapes,'' said Moreno Coronica, a winemaker from Umag.

The Markezic family will harvest the usual eight to nine tonnes of grapes per hectare from their vines spanning the rolling hills of Momjan. The first bunches for the production of sparkling wine were harvested about ten days ago, and now Malvasia is being harvested for still wines.

''It's not hard work. It's not really heavy going, it's even a kind of relaxation. There's enough sugar in the berries, the acids are low, which is ideal for Malvasia. Everything is right as far as the grapes are concerned, in terms of both freshness and the sugars. So, we will get a wine with around 13 percent alcohol, freshness around 5.5 and 6 percent acidity,'' explained Marino Markezeic from Momjan.

While the Istrian grape harvest is going on and appears to be quite successful, offering a very welcome breath of fresh air to growers, other plantations of various fruit and vegetables haven't been so lucky in other parts of the country, particularly in Dalmatia and as far as olives are concerned. Inflation is set to push prices up even more, with consumers likely needing to fork out more to purchase these top Croatian products.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

NP Ucka Hosting Biggest Fair of Traditional Istrian, Kvarner Products

September the 1st, 2022 - NP Ucka is set to play host to the largest fair of traditional products from the Istrian peninsula and Kvarner on September the 4th, with free transport heading there from the gorgeous town of Opatija.

As Morski writes, the fourteenth edition of the Ucka Samanj will be held on Sunday, September the 4th, 2022 at NP Ucka, from 10:00 to 20:00. The fair will also be expanded to cover lectures, workshops and the screening of a film which will take place during the morning hours.

This traditional manifestation will finally take place once again after two pandemic-dominated years, and it is otherwise known as the largest fair of traditional products in Istria and Kvarner. Ucka Samanj will also showcase sales and exhibitions, educational lectures and workshops, a programme for children and a cultural and entertainment programme this year.

This event at NP Ucka will work to promote the cultural and natural heritage of this protected area and support local producers of traditional products from across Kvarner and Istria. As such, this year, local products from both sides of NP Ucka will be presented at the fair, and visitors will have the opportunity to experience the legacy of the Istrian peninsula and the hinterland of the Opatija Riviera, through the presentation of associations that nurture the traditional culture of this area, as well as through the presentation of old crafts and native animals. About 50 exhibitors, associations and organisations will participate in the event. 

Visitors will be able to get much better acquainted with the traditional production of locally-made instruments in this part of the fair, including the forging of iron, the making of wooden figurines, mushroom hunting, local cultural heritage and much more.

The sales part of the fair will cover the rich offer of local manufacturers, and among other things, various dairy, meat and dried products, honey, fruit, brandy and liqueurs, wines, craft beers, teas, vepin products, jams, and natural cosmetics will be sold at the booths. Free bus transport to the NP Ucka fair will be provided from Opatija.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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