Friday 30 December 2016


Image courtesy of Čabeceda

While I was working on the last letters of my Istria abecedary, I came across Čabeceda on Facebook. This is a collection of super cute illustrations depicting images that describe a word in the Istrian dialect for every letter of the Croatian alphabet. 

Not only are the illustrations delightful, but the name of the collection is very clever. Ča is the word for 'what' in the Chakavian (Čakavski) dialect spoken in Istria, after which the dialect is named. Abeceda is the Croatian word for abecedary. And beceda sounds very similar to beseda, which means 'word' in the dialect.

Having completed my attempt at an A to Ž of Istria, I knew that it was a challenge to come up with ideas for some letters which are less used in the Istrian dialect like Đ, DŽ, and Lj. But the artist had the added challenge of coming up with words that could be easily illustrated. 

The artist of this labour of love is Tina Radosavljević from Šišan near Pula. She's a recent graduate of the Academy of Applied Arts at the University of Rijeka who came up with this idea for her final Masters thesis. 

She obviously put a lot of thought into her project: the colour palette she uses is inspired by the colours of Istrian traditional costumes, and the figures depicted in her drawings are even wearing Istrian folk costumes. She has also included the translation of each word in Croatian, English and Italian.

I met Tina when I went to a Christmas art bazaar in Rijeka recently. She was there displaying a book and poster of her Čabeceda drawings, as well as other fun products like a memory game created from the collection, and illustrated mugs, t-shirts and cloth bags with cute Istrian sayings. You can see these things here.

Čabeceda is not only Tina's final art school project (I hope she got top marks!) but also a fun way to preserve the Istrian dialect. Do check out the Čabeceda Facebook page or Instagram page to see the whole collection.

By the way, I have also created an Istria A to Ž page on this blog with a round-up of my now completed Istria abecedary! You can see it just under the header image above.

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Tuesday 20 December 2016

Walking the Parenzana (Part 3): from Livade to Vižinada

It was a crisp but sunny winter's day with clear blue skies when I set out to walk from Livade to Vižinada. I had cycled the first part of the Parenzana trail from Muggia in Italy through Slovenia to Buje in Croatia, and then walked from Buje to Livade. This would be the third leg of my trip following the entire 123-km-long trail, a former railway line.

From Livade the trail follows the main road, heading in a straight line towards the hill town of Motovun and over a short bridge. It then veers to the left where a sign points the direction through the woods. It was cold inside the dense forest, and puddles were frozen over with ice. It was also chilly enough for me to pull out my hat and gloves and put them on. Luckily the forest trail did not last long, and I was soon back out in the winter sun with Motovun looming ahead of me again. It felt quite warm for a mid-December day.

I came across a few fascinating pieces of old abandoned farm machinery on the way.

This stretch of the Parenzana trail makes a track around Motovun (which is perched at 277 metres) so I was able to observe this spectacular hill town painted in winter colours under different angles and from different perspectives as I made my way around the base of the village.

The 222m-long tunnel at Motovun is the longest tunnel on the Croatian section of the Parenzana trail. I spotted a solar panel at its entrance and hoped that meant the tunnel would be lighted. I stepped gingerly inside and turned on my flashlight waiting for the tunnel's lights to turn on. Nothing happened, and of course – Murphy's Law – my flashlight stopped working! The tunnel was pitch black and pretty creepy... I didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel either because the tunnel curves. I was about to turn back... I didn't have the nerves to walk through a pitch black, damp tunnel alone... when miraculously the lights suddenly flickered on! I breathed a sigh of relief and walked as quickly as possible, praying they would not turn off as suddenly as they had come on. I was relieved to finally see the (proverbial?) light at the end of the tunnel and quickened my pace.

I soon had Motovun behind me and eventually saw Vižinada looming in the distance ahead. There were few people on the trail that day: one or two lone cyclists, and small groups of walkers covering parts of the trail only.

This leg of the trail from Livade to Vižinada took me about 3.5 hours to walk. I've now completed three quarters of the 123-km-long trail, and will do the last stretch by bicycle this spring.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Istria abecedary: Ž is for Županski stol

The županski stol in Gračišće

Županski stol can be translated as a municipal or public table. Often made of simple rectangular or circular stone slabs set on stone pillars, this is where important community decisions were taken by a town's decision makers. You can still see these old stone tables in many places across Istria.

I've now reached the last letter of the Croatian alphabet and the end of my Istria abecedary! I hope you enjoyed it and learned a little bit about Istria along the way.
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