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Please watch: Wonderful Istria

Srednja škola Mate Balote Poreč


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First things first – that is why we start with Aleja glagoljaša – a Glagolitic priests' path – a cultural and tourist landmark in northern continental Istria and a tribute to our literacy. Eleven monuments, mostly made of stone, are dedicated to the first Slavic alphabet – glagoljica. They are scattered along a seven kilometre long country road that connects Hum, the smallest town in the world, and Roč, a seat of Slavic literacy in the 13th century. The picture above shows the stone table of St. Cyril and Methodius, Greekborn Christian missionaries among the Slavs. There is a Glagolitic letter (looks like a chalice) engraved on the right leg of the table. The other inscriptions (here and elsewhere) are also in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, which have both been used in Croatia, along with glagoljica, even though nowadays we only use the Latin letters. These monuments, although erected in the 20th century, are a testimony to our medieval literature, its Slavic roots, an unbroken tradition of writing in the national language since the 11th century, and our relations with other Slavic and European countries. Besides being a cultural journey of discovery into our history and literature, a visit to the Aleja also makes a very pleasant stroll in the country on a fine day in any season.


FEBRUARY Monday

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The batana is a traditional boat of the northern Adriatic, used in the former Venetian Republic. In Istria it was made and used only in Rovinj. Today the local community is reviving this unique sailing craft. A museum has been founded to honour the breadwinner – many a mouth has been fed with the fish caught while sailing on the batana. Additionally, the batana is celebrated in an annual summer regatta in the waters around Rovinj, which attracts numerous participants and spectators. The above picture depicts a detail from a recent event. The boat has a flat bottom and its length varies between four and eight metres. It was suitable for shallow waters and, naturally, for fishing. Once made solely of wood, today modern materials are used, for example fiberglass for the bottom. Wouldn't you like to be in the picture, on one of the batanas, instead of watching the regatta in the calendar? We would, and indeed sailing is a very popular year-round pastime here, though often not in a batana.


MARCH

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The kažun is a typical Istrian structure that you can find in the middle of nowhere, which is its natural habitat. To make the story short and clear, that means - in the fields. The kažun was used as a shelter for farmers and shepherds from sudden bad weather, as a place to keep agricultural tools and even as a shelter for animals, to protect them from the cold or from theft. Sometimes it even happened that shepherds stayed in overnight, together with their animals. It was built without windows and usually had a round shape. What is peculiar about its construction is that no binding elements, like cement, were ever used. It’s all pure, dry stone. Quite impressive, isn’t it? Unfortunately, today they are abandoned, just like the one in the picture. Fortunately, they have become symbols of Istria, and you can see some rebuilt, especially in the southern part of the peninsula. Also, you can find them on all possible kinds of souvenirs: on key chains, postcards, bottles, bags etc. Plus, they themselves, i.e. their models, make a souvenir, or are built as souvenir shops or public conveniences. Fancy using one yourself?


APRIL Monday

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What do we like eating in Istria? Plenty of delicacies! Istrian pršut (prosciutto crudo, ham) is the most favourite first course and a sign of a warm welcome to all our guests. The way it is cured is not without its secrets, and our land and climate leave traces on its delicate and rich taste. Its thin slices are eaten with a selection of cheeses, olives and home-made bread. Ombolo is a loin of pork marinated in wine, garlic and laurel, then grilled together with Istrian sausages and served with cooked sauerkraut. Istrian truffles, white or black underground mushrooms found by specially trained dogs, have a strong aroma that people either love or hate. It is both the aroma and the price that make us use it very economically: with pasta, in omelettes, grated on steak or with venison. Wild asparagus has to be picked in spring along bushy hedges and forest paths. To many people, the most delicious way to enjoy it is in a fritaja (an omelette) made with olive oil, wild asparagus and pršut. Other favourite ingredients for our delicacies include squid and seafood in general, fish from the Adriatic, codfish (imported from Norway), fuži, posutice (types of pasta), and boškarin, meat from a special breed of Istrian cattle. A question for connoisseurs… or simple food-lovers: which is the main ingredient in Istarska supa (Istrian soup)? Chicken, beef, vegetables, fish, pasta…? Well, none of those are used to make that soup. Istrian red wine is the main ingredient! You also need a few spoonfuls of olive oil, a pinch of pepper and some sugar. Toasted bread is soaked in the heated liquid. Bon appétit!


Istarski đir

Terra magica MAY

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Traditional Istrian music is a representative product of this land and its people. Our songs are about the Istrian landscape and sea, hard work on the farm and the joy of living. There were, and are, plenty of occasions for singing which is really peculiar – two voices make effective use of high and low pitches. The Istrian scale, a distinct hexatonic musical scale, is applied. Sometimes meaningless words are introduced, such as tananinanena, mostly to imitate the accompanying instruments. Favourite traditional instruments include sopele or roženice (wind instruments in two different sizes, always played in pairs – see the picture above), šurle (a double-chanter wind instrument), mih (bagpipes) and harmonika trieština (an accordion from Trieste, Italy). It is easy to learn to play the trieština – people usually need only a few weeks. The instrument has a sharp sound and is mostly used to play dance music, especially traditional dance music of Slovenia, Austria and the north of Italy. Nowadays there are attempts at its revival. The most famous folk dance in Istria is balun. It is danced in pairs and in groups forming circles. The accompanying instruments are, most often, roženice, but also mih and šurle. Music makes the world a happier place and, if you use the two links provided above and listen to the girls' choir of our school, listening can even turn this black and white page into a colourful one. Plus, what’s the point of reading about music without listening to it? The songs are modernized versions. Enjoy yourselves!


JUNE Monday

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Rovinj is one of the most picturesque towns on the Croatian coast. Located on the western coast of Istria, the town is a popular tourist resort, an active fishing port and an important centre of trade and industry. The bell tower of St. Euphemia church overlooks the town’s narrow streets crowded with tourists, artists and locals together with their colourful houses. It is a landmark you cannot help visiting, situated in the very heart of the historic centre, with all the lanes leading to the hill where this treasure comfortably sits. The town is a home to a large number of Italian-Istrians and, if you find yourself in the street, at the market or in a cafÊ, you are very likely to hear lively conversations in the local Italian and Croatian dialects almost at the same time and even between the same participants, along with lots of foreign languages spoken by our guests who come from far and wide. Not far from Rovinj there are two points of interest for geographers and naturalists: the Limska Draga Fjord, a unique glacial formed inlet, and the Palud Marsh, a nesting site for shore and migratory birds. Altogether nineteen islands and the mainland around Rovinj are an area of pristine beauty, covered with Holm or Holly Oak and Allepo Pines.


JULY Monday

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The Brijuni Islands are a group of fourteen small islands off the western and southern coast of Istria. They are a national park, as well as a holiday resort. It was already the ancient Romans who discovered the place and built the first villas in the first century AD. Their remains still stand. It will probably also be interesting to mention the Histri, a tribe who had lived on the islands (and wider) before the Romans ruled there, but left few traces. They gave name to Istria. In the 19th century, an Austrian businessman (Paul Kupelwieser) transformed the place into an exclusive beach resort. The islands are special for their natural heritage, with about 600 indigenous plant species and an ethno park presenting the autochthonous animal species (Istrian oxen, sheep, donkeys and goats), plus a safari park. The Brijuni were once a summer residence of Yugoslav president Tito, which gave them additional prominence. At that time the islands were visited by statesmen, members of royal families and celebrities like Elisabeth Taylor or Sophia Loren. Today, Tito's parrot and elephant, gifts from people like Indira Ghandi, still live near the residence. If you want to take a ride on the island, you can do so in grand style, in Tito's Cadillac Eldorado, which was one of the most luxurious cars of its time. But don’t worry, there are also other means of transport for the less demanding. During the ride, you'll be able to see a 1,600 years old olive tree, dinosaur footprints and a lot of other natural beauties and animals. On the other hand, if you fancy a theatrical play, a company of actors performs on one of the islands every summer. Vanga, the island where Tito’s residence is, is still not open to the public because Croatia’s presidents hold receptions there.


AUGUST Monday

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The Arena in Pula is the largest ancient monument in Croatia and the sixth largest amphitheatre in the world. It is also very well-preserved. Not that there haven’t been any threats over the centuries! Surprisingly, the monument is still not on the UNESCO list of protected heritage, but it is found on the ten kuna banknote. (The kuna is the Croatian currency.) It was used for gladiatorial and wild animal combats, as well as for public trials and punishments. Lots of weird sense of fun! Interestingly enough, the first arena was made of wood. The stone amphitheatre was built at about the same time as the Roman Colosseum, in the first century AD. According to a local legend, it was built by fairies who, allegedly, covered by the darkness of the night, carried large stones from Učka, the highest Istrian mountain. In such tales, the arena is called Divić-grad, or Wonder-town. Such was the awe and respect it caused among common people. Today this is one of the biggest attractions in Croatia. The Pula film festival is held there every summer. It has hosted concerts of some of the biggest stars in the world, such as Jose Carreras, Eros Ramazzotti, Elton John, Manu Chao and so on. Some ten years ago, a necktie (a Croatian contribution to the world of fashion) was put around it as if around a neck. The event was recorded in the Guinness book of world records as the longest necktie – 808 metres.


SEPTEMBER Monday

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Pictures speak far louder and better than words and it is quite clear that our landscape is speckled with vineyards and olive groves. Local varieties of grapes and wine are Malvazija (white wine) and Teran (red wine), but a few international cultivars are also grown and produced here. When you enter Istria, you can see large billboards welcoming you to the Land of Good Wine. Not only is it the land of good wine, but also of excellent extra virgin olive oil, which has a number of health benefits. Again, there are a few autochthonous varieties that regularly win awards at international fairs. Plenty of vineyards and wine cellars can be visited. Tourists love biking or driving along the well-marked wine roads. Similarly, there are olive oil roads that connect olive groves and oil mills. They are all worth a visit, and tasting can be arranged. Agritourism is popular across Istria and these farms offer accommodation and home-grown meat, wine, olive oil and produce. However, even just passing by or through the groves or vineyards is a relaxing experience. A few curious details about olive trees: their trunks are usually thin and crooked, but they can still be turned into beautiful, high-quality and very expensive furniture. Those trees can live to a ripe old age. Perhaps the oldest olive tree in Croatia is in the Brijuni National Park – it is over 1,600 years old. That’s longevity!


OCTOBER Monday

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Hilltop towns and villages are quite common in Istria. Motovun, an enchanting small medieval town, situated on a hill 270 metres above sea level, is a perfect example. Originally, it was a defensive fortress. Motovun is particularly known for black and white truffles, which grow in the famous Motovun forest, near the Mirna River, below the town. This world-famous fungus is an ingredient that, due to its flavour, makes Istrian gastronomic specialities unique, especially when they are combined with the exquisite red wine – Teran, an autochthonous variety from the Motovun vineyards. Thanks to the two products, the food festival TeTa (Te-Teran, Ta- tartufi - truffles in Croatian) takes place in early autumn and is connected with the Truffles Days, organized in the nearby village of Livade, the world truffle centre. Even the Guinness Record Truffle, weighing 1,310 g, has been found in this same forest. The first third of the 20th century saw significant economic development of Istrian hinterland due to a railroad that connected PoreÄ? and Trieste (Italy) and also ran underneath Motovun. The Parenzana no longer functions as a rail line. Nowadays it is a popular cycling and hiking track for adventurers to explore the beauty of the Istrian interior. Motovun is the birthplace of the renowned race car driver Mario Andretti, who first raced handcrafted wooden cars up and down its steep streets. Later on he became a Formula 1 World Champion and won the prestigious Indianapolis 500. The town is alive in every season and time of day with breathtaking sunrises, autumn fogs or stunning views and even features a summer film festival. Motovun is a gem of history and culture.


NOVEMBER Monday

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We take great pride in the Euphrasian basilica (Eufrazijeva bazilika) in PoreÄ?, our hometown. It is a wonderful example of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region and our most valuable treasure. The complex (church, baptistery, bell tower, colonnaded atrium and bishop's palace) is protected by the UNESCO and has been placed on their world heritage list. The basilica dates back to the sixth century but is actually the third church built on the same site. The remains of the previous ones are still present and visible, especially a few floor mosaics. The present basilica is particularly famous for its brilliant mosaics in the main apse. Those depict Jesus and the Apostles, twelve female martyrs in the medallions, Mary and Child, angels and local saints. Maurus, the first bishop of PoreÄ?, who we celebrate every November, is also among them, as well as the bishop who ordered the building of the church, after whom it was named, and who, naturally, holds the model of the church in his arms. This amazing and colourful company are standing on a meadow full of flowers. Finest Byzantine art, too! The picture above shows some of the details. The shape of the basilica was also revolutionary at the time it was built since it was the first three-apse church in western culture. Masses and concerts in the basilica are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.


DECEMBER Monday

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The Istrian cattle, known as boškarin, are a native Croatian cattle breed. The oxen can reach the weight of over one tonne. A long time ago, they were quite widespread on the Istrian peninsula. First they were used in agriculture to plough fields, to haul large and heavy stones to build houses, and their meat and milk were eaten by farmers. The situation changed when tractors started to be used in the fields instead. But recently we have seen attempts at protecting and conserving the remaining boškarin breeding. Today, some 2,500 remaining animals are grown for gastronomic purposes, since their toil is no more needed in the field. Several gourmet products from boškarin, like salami, are available, and restaurants serve boškarin steak, boskarin carpaccio or boškarin meat with fuži or pljukanci, the typical Istrian pasta. Another Istrian animal, also a symbol of Istria, is the Istrian goat. Its meat is not a gourmet delicacy yet, no, but the goat can be found on the Istrian coat of arms, which is part of the Croatian coat of arms. Some people argue that it is a symbol for the hard-working and stubborn Istrian people.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We want to recognize the work of all the known and unknown authors whose pictures we have used in our calendar. Sometimes we retained their original form and size, but there are also cases of our resizing and cropping. Thank you to all of them. Below is the information we were able to uncover about them and their work, usually the URL addresses: 1. http://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleja_glagolja%C5%A1a , author: Klaus-Dieter Keller, of Germany 2. http://cdn.regionalexpress.hr/images/uploads/Batana_na_Atlantiku_2_(2).jpg 3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ty_kier/9788636315/

4. http://www.coloursofistria.com/en/food-and-wine/delicacies/istrian-prsut 5. http://oblizeki.com/sparoge-%E2%80%93-jesu-li-slade-njezne-kultivirane-ili-gorke-samonikle-1923 6. http://sv-martin.com/supa.htm 7. http://metro-portal.hr/poceo-sajam-tartufa-u-istri/23560 8. http://s2.pticica.com/foto/0000178054_l_0_ILYDOH.jpg

9. http://www.apartments-rovinj.info/images/slider/Apartments%20Rovinj.jpg 10. http://www.brijuni.hr/pictures/opci_podaci_geografski-polozaj.jpg 11. http://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amfiteatar_u_Puli , author Jerzy Strzelecki 12. http://www.benvenutivina.com/en/images/backgrounds/press.jpg 13. http://www.coloursofistria.com/cms_media/images/ARTICLES/Ipsa-maslinik-v.jpg 14. http://www.novilist.hr/var/novilist/storage/images/vijesti/crna-kronika/lopovi-vise-ne-biraju-pod-okriljemnoci-opljackali-maslinik-i-odnijeli-20-maslina/912923-1-cro-HR/Lopovi-vise-ne-biraju-Pod-okriljem-nociopljackali-maslinik-i-odnijeli-20-maslina_ca_large.jpg 15. http://vinalaguna.hr/files/2012/04/vinogradi.jpg 16. http://www.galileo-varazdin.hr/catalog/pics/IMG_479_4.jpg 17. http://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eufrazijeva_bazilika , author Josep Renalias 18. http://www.pula.hr/uploads/pics/boskarin.jpg Special thanks to Michael, our American friend, for his invaluable advice and for proofreading our texts.

Calendar 2014 mbalota istria  

2014 calendar created by students of the secondary school Mate Balota in Pore, Istria, Croatia

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