Thursday, January 17, 2019

Blessed Antonio Martissa - January 17

Blessed Antonio Martissa

January 17 is the feast of Blessed Antonio Martissa, confessor.

Antonio Martissa was born in the 15th century in the city of Capodistria, in Istria, then part of the Republic of Venice. He attended the University of Padua, where he became a doctor of theology in 1473. He joined the Order of Servants of Mary, also known as the Servites, and became leader of several monasteries throughout Istria, including Servite monasteries in Capodistria and Isola.

He died in 1520 and was buried in the former Servite Church of Santi Martino e Benedetto in his native Capodistria. His life of penance, austerity and mortification earned him the title of “Blessed”. Today he is still commemorated at the former Servite Monastery and at the Cathedral of Capodistria.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Blessed Assalone of Capodistria - January 15

Commemoration Mass for Blessed Assalone
Cathedral of the Assumption, Capodistria
Sunday January 19, 2014

January 15 is the feast of Blessed Assalone, bishop.

Assalone, according to tradition, was born in the 12th century in the city of Capodistria, in Istria. He was nominated bishop of Capodistria in either 1210, 1212 or 1220, according to different sources. He consecrated several Istrian churches, including the Church of San Ulderico in Capodistria and the Church of San Giorgio in Paugnano. In 1222 he consecrated the Church of Santa Maria in Monte, in the village of Monte di Capodistria, and in 1225 he consecrated the Church of San Servolo in the village of the same name. He died around 1245.

The sanctity of his life led to him being publicly venerated by the faithful in Capodistria. His effigy is preserved in the episcopal chapel of Sant'Alessandro in Capodistria.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Italy's Right to Her Natural Boundaries (1918)

Italian Oriental Defense According to the Roman Plan

God, with the immortal
writing of mountains and waters,
has traced mother countries.



Since when — parallelly and contemporaneously to the political and military expansion of republic Rome — the designation « ITALY » became extended, from the peninsula part to the entire geographic Italian region, it at once appeared to the practical minds of the Romans that the logic natural boundary of this region was to be the complete circle of the Alps.

The bitter experience of the Carthaginian invasion, led by Hannibal, the threatening raid of the Cimbri and Teutons, overcome only by the strategical genius of Marius, indeed the Romans to fix their attention on the Alpine bulwark which alone could hinder the plains of the River Po from becoming the natural battle field of the invaders breaking in from the north and from the east.

With the constitution of the Empire, the Alpine circle appeared always more clearly to the Romans as being the natural barrier against the threats of the barbarians. In the historical and political writings of the late republic and empire times numerous references to this geographic and military function of the Alps are to be found. Without calling to mind the lesser writers, mention of the above is made by Polibius, and later on by Titus Livius, Velleius Patercolus, Anneus Flavius and also Diogenes of Alicarnassus besides Pomponius Mela of Rheims.

Although there is wanting, in the expressions of these writers, a precise indication of a « geographic or political-administrative boundry », and although their knowledge of the alpine system could be only slight, they already considered the « Infames frigoribus Alpes », as Titus Livius called them, a real natural limit.

And, though the Alpine region presented but slight interest to the Romans, the importance of the great alpine vallies as ways of communication and invasion certainly did not escape them. So much so, that under Augustus they carried out the occupation of the Trentino, which became a colony of the Empire, and in a very short time, Trent, on the highway of Lamagna, assumed great importance.

In the 3rd Century, when the Empire was reorganized administratively on firm foundations in order to oppose the Germanic danger which was becoming more apparent, full of disastrous consequences for the structure of the Roman Empire, the political and military boundaries of Italy were progressively extended, even to the external slopes of the Alps.

With the arrangements made in the times of Diocletianus and of Constantinus, when the Germanic danger more closely threatened Latin civilization, the occupation was extended to the Vindelicia and the Rezia, thus enclosing within the boundaries the greatest part of the Alpine region.

Analogously, the eastern part of the Illiricus (Carniola) was united by firm administrative and political bounds to Italy, as being part of the government of Upper Italy; Aemona (Laibach) and Nauporto (Ober-Laibach) were also considered in Italian territory.

Istria — conquered by Rome two centuries before the birth of Christ — was always closely connected with Italy, being considered as an integrating part of Venetia, and Roman civilization reached such a high point there as to leave indelible traces in the beauty of the monuments, which can still be admired in the coastal cities (Triest, Pola, Parenzo), in the juridic institutions of private rights, and in the popular traditions jealously preserved by the peoples there in spite of the brutal and violent invasions of the Germans, Slavs and Hungarians.

Though the Roman Empire collapsed as a political and military organism- the treasure of its culture was always maintained by these peoples of Italic conscience. Through every vicissitude, notwithstanding Barbaric domination, the Roman tradition was maintained vigorous and alive and from it, even in the dark ages, manifestations of Roman Italian sentiments sprung forth.

Nor did the constitution of Roman-Barbaric kingdoms, appearing as new branches on the great felled trunk of the Roman Empire, succeed in destroying what there was of eternal in the civilization of Rome, for both the « Regnum Longobardorum » and the « Regno Italiae » created by the Carlovingians, carrying out the traditions of Imperial Rome, included within their boundaries the Dukedom of Trent and also Venetia and Istria, not only for defensive reasons, but also because the Barbarians themselves felt that these provinces, for the common character of the language, the institutions and the traditions, formed, with the remainder of Roman Italy, an inseparable and insoluble whole.

With reference to this we may remember the act of the Longobard king, Alboino, who, looking towards the Italian region from Mount Re (Mt. Nanos), fixed the boundaries of the new kingdom of Italy there.


Should these historic precedents, in the valuation of a military and political problem, seem to some to have but relative value, a direct interest instead will be presented by the example of the military criteria which inspired Rome for defence of the threatened eastern entrance to Italy.

The thought of fortifying the eastern boundary of Italy, to defend it from the threat of the barbaric trans-Alpine peoples, came to the Romans as soon as Istria was conquered.

The defences built by them aimed essentially at closing up the traditional roads of communication and invasion of Nauporto, Postojna and of the Liburnica coast.

In the first period (even in the year 128 B.C.) it seems that a line of entrenchments was built from Quarnero to Longatico (Loitsch), along the external arch of the Carso heights in which the gap of Nauporto, the road of the defiles of Clana, and the coastal road, were the only accesses then practicable.

The « Limes » meanwhile included not only the Adelsberg basin, but also the Ober-Laibach and Zirknitz basins.

In a second period, perhaps about in the second century after Christ, an internal « vallum » appeared which from the basin of Aidussina probably reached the strong-point of Mt. Catalano, which seems to have been reinforced by a « castrum ». This internal « limes », though militarily it had the advantage of being shorter, less winding and nearer to the supply depots, had on the contrary to defend a larger number of ways of access.

The barrier defences were prepared with particular care, especially those along the most dangerous and well known way of invasion, which from the gap of Nauporto led to the basin of Aidussina. In front of the eastern ridge of the Piro Woods and of the highest point of elevation (Hill 882) two « valli » were built, the one in the rear being reinforced by a « castle » dominating both slopes. Another solid « castle » dominated the basin of Aidussina.

It seems that the coastal road was guarded by two « castles »: one overlooking Fiume, the other on the height of Castua.

The « valli » in the accompanying map are marked according to the riconstruction made by scholars. It seems however that its trace was discontinued according to the greater or lesser difficulties of access apposed internal « vallum » and of the two « valli » of the Piro Woods, remains of unanimously and concordantly through the medieval and modern periods by the ground in front. The « valli » marked indicate, not so much continued entrenchments, as the line on which the Romans considered it necessary to base the eastern defence of Italy.

Of the « valli » and castles shown, scholars have frequently found traces (excavations and reconnaissance have ascertained: portions of the internal « vallum » and of the two « valli » of the Piro Woods, remains of a defensive wall to the north west of Fiume, ruins of the « castri » in the neighbourhood of « ad Priuin », Aidussina, Fiume): in the local folk lore also they are still remembered (1).

At any rate, whatever opinion one may have on the existence of this complete fortified military system, the fundamental fact results certain that the Romans themselves recognized the military necessity of placing the eastern defence of Italy on the external arches of the Julian Alps.


If the Roman tradition is a splendid proof of the vital necessity of validly closing up that eastern entrance to Italy which from the most remote times had been barred against the danger of invasions, it is not work done in vain to remember how the conception — that the boundary of Italy must be the circle of the Alps, from the Brenner to the Quarnero — passed unanimously and concordantly through the medieval and modern periods to reach us adorned by the thoughts of poets, enriched by historic testimony and strengthened by the opinions of statesmen and scientists.

The testimony of poets and men of letters, considered in itself and for itself, in a political problem, cannot assume the value of an absolute and irrefutable testimony, but it constitutes the surest and most eloquent index of the currents of thought and the convictions of their ages (2).

Not only Dante, who fixed admirably the boundaries of Italy on the north, east and west, but ancient poets and medieval chronicle writers clearly say that our Peninsula is defended by the arch of the Alps.

Petrarca and Fazio degli Uberti in the XIV Century; Cammelli, called Pistoia, and Galezzo di Tarsia in the XV and early XVI centuries lament that the Alps are not a sufficient defence for Italy against the greed of the new barbarians: « Insecure barrier to your beloved shores » sings Gaelazzo di Tarsia.

And so also in the successive centuries up to Pindemonte who calls the Brenner the extreme boundary of Italy towards Germany: « The heights of the Brenner arise between you and Italy ».

« A right sanctioned by God and by nature » is the expression running through the Italian poets even also when, in the XVII and XVI II centuries, the conscience of nationality seems to have grown feeble.

But, as already said, the poets only manifest a vital and deep current of thought, of which we find pure and clear expression in all the series of historians and statesmen. The idea appears limpid even in most obscure, and often anonymous, medieval chronicle writers. Through numberless vicissitudes and historical crises, the Roman tradition never perishes and in all geographic descriptions, often in the midst of the dark ages, the tradition of the Roman boundaries are maintained unaltered. « Venetiae et Histriae pro una provincia habentur » (Venice and Istria are one province) writes the Longobard historian Paolo Diacono, and he gives great importance to the eastern boundary as a defence against the aggressiveness of the Avari and Slavs.

Istria was always considered by all medieval chronicle writers to be Italian: not the slightest doubt was admitted on this point.

Flavio Biondo da Forli, a humanist of great fame, and Guicciardini, the historian, considered Nauporto (now Ober-Laibach) as belonging to the Italian region.

When chartography arose as an art in itself, the chartographic represtations of the boundaries of Italy corresponded to the ancient and classic tradition both Roman and Italian, Italy is therein enclosed in the crown of the Trentino, Carnia and Julian Alps which separate her from Germany, Carniola, Croazia (or Pannonia). In a word, the boundary falls on the edge of the basin of Lubiana, generally including the region of Postojna (Adelsberg).

But it was really the reawakening of a national conscience, due to the influence of the French revolution. Which vividly gave rise to the question of the boundaries of the future country. And every writer, every statesman who studied the question, clearly conceived the boundaries of Italy as marked out by the necessity of closing the doors of Italy against the rapacity of the neighbouring peoples and rulers.

Two thousand years of bitter historical experience could not be passed over in vain by these thoughtful men of ours who, at the dawn of the « Risorgimento », expressed the new conscience of Italy.

For all of them, the Brenner and the chain of mountains which send towards the east the waters of the Sava, and fall on the Quarnero, are the sacred limits which nature has fixed for Italy and beyond which the foreigner is to be driven. And the Brenner and the Kauporto Gap are indicated as the doors which New Italy must essentially guard.

In 1806, in a letter of C. Testi to the minister Marescalchi in Paris, we read of the desire, ardent and diffused, in political and Milanese circles, to have Triest and Fiume and to place the boundary on the ancient line of the Alps (3).

Napoleon himself, in 1813, considered Istria as necessary to the defence of Venice (4); and in his « Memoires », dictated on St. Helena, he refers to the natural boundary of Italy constituted by the line which passes on the mountains between Lubiana and the Isonzo and touches the Adriatic and Fiume.

From 1815, among writers and statesmen, the conception of the real frontier of Italy became determined always more clearly. « The Romans conquered Triest for the political necessity of establishing there a barrier against the transalpine peoples » writes Domenico De Rossetti, solicitor to the commune of Triest in 1815. And in a memorandum presented by the Czar Alexander to the Piedmont Ambassador, the Count of Brusasco, reference is made to the constitution of an Italian state strong enough to close the doors of Italy in the face of the foreigner. Here we read « The limits of this state are traced, by nature, from the slopes of the Moncenisio to the Mountains of Carniola ».

And after these manifestations still isolated, there arose a numerous array of historians and political men who guided and determined the public opinion of the « Risorgimento ». There was no hesitation in their minds with regard to the north eastern boundaries of Italy; in all was clear, limpid, the perception that there could be no sure peace in the new Italian state if the openings to invasion were not well closed. And this thought formed from then, a lively and constant preoccupation.

Terenzio Mamiani when, in 1848, inciting the Italians to cross the Isonzo also at the cost of much blood, to reach the ancient natural frontiers of Italy, wrote « To the Julian Alps, Soldiers! I would cry out to them », (Political Writings, page 264). And elsewhere the same writer says « And it is necessary that the Alps be followed everywhere marking the bounds of Italy as mother nature in the first place created them ».

And Cavour, in 1851, said that « as long as the Austrians are on this side of the Alps, he could not give up his policy ».

A distinguished group of historians, with Cesare Balbi at their head, extended the frontier to the east as far as the Mount Bittorai, basing themselves on a well defined strategic geographic criterion.

The patriot, Alberto Cavalletto, in 1862, wished to render popular the idea that the real Venetia embraced all the territory included within the Po, Mincio, Adriatic, Raetic, Carnic and Julian Alps, from the Brenner to the Quarnero.

Joseph Mazzini, in 1866, thus spoke « Istria is the key to our eastern frontier, the door of Italy on the Adriatic side: the Trentino is ours as far as the chain of the Raetic Alps ».

Francesco Crispi was anxious, in 1877, on account of Italy's wanting an eastern frontier and did fail to make Bismark note that this deficiency exposed Italy to aggressions from the East.

Aurelio Saffi, Paolo Fambri, Prospero Antonini, S. Bonfiglio, and P. Borghi all examined the question of the Italian frontier with regard to political and military matters: for all of them it was clear that the defence of Italy was to be placed on the external arches of the Julian Alps.

The detailed work by P. Antonini « Eastern Friuli » (Vallardi, Milan 1865) especially shows as being necessary, from a military point of view, besides the rectification which returns to us the defile of Saifnitz (Tarvis), both the basin of Adelsberg and the basins of Ober-Loitsch-Planina and of Zirknitz.

Finally, it is necessary to recall to mind the careful study made by the Sardinian General Staff in 1815, which considers the Trentino and Julian Alps as the only and real boundary, the bulwark of Italy against the dangers from the East.

If the question of the boundaries of Italy arose, after the Roman period, in such a vital form only after a great interval of time, and that is, at the beginning of the XIX Century, it is because the Middle Ages, breaking the sovereignty of the state into small feudal and municipal fragments, caused to be lost to view the importance of the political frontier of Italy, considered as a sole and inseparable nation.

And yet, from the fall of Rome to the advent of Napoleon Bonaparte (which coincides with the ripening of a new Italian national conscience) the political problem of the unity of Italy is never forgotten: it is in the minds of writers and statesmen, it takes form in the Roman tradition that Italy must have her boundaries on the Alpine watershed and at the Quarnero.

But, when a great Italian national conscience was formed and the tendency to unite became manifest, the unanimous agreement of writers, historians, political men, military specialists arose and clearly demonstrated the necessity of placing the frontier of New Italy where nature marked it and that is, on the north, on the Brenner and, on the east, at mount Tricorno, mount Nevoso as far as the Quarnero confuting, as did Cesare Correnti and Pietro Maestri, in 1864, the absurd German theory that Italy on the east should have no frontier.

And thus — and it is certainly a thesis which does not require further demonstration — it is of no use to illustrate the persistence of Italian sentiments in each of the territories through the particular vicissitudes of history.

Let us remember only — as a proof how deeply the beneficial dominion of Venice was rooted in the regions on the other shore — the demonstrations of grief and affection for the Venetia republic which, even in the Slav districts of Istria, as also in the Dalmatian districts, took place when the « Serenissima » ended with the Pact of Campoformio in 1796), and the continual manifestations of Italian sentiments expressed in every way by the inhabitants of Istria during all the XIX Century.

The ardent appeals of Triest and Fiume, in the present days, and the enthusiastic welcome received by our troops, have, on the other hand, consecrated the fact that centuries of struggle and oppression have not succeeded in destroying or bribing the Italian soul of the people of our « irredente » lands, who have arisen happy in their sacred enthusiasm, as soon as the chains which kept them slaves were broken.

(1) The information referred to is taken from the well known studies of P. Kandler's Istrian Diplomatic Code, Trieste, Lloyd, 1864, G. Sacchi, Ancient boundaries of Italy.

Reports of the Lombard Literature and Science Institute 1864.

A. Müllner and A. Puschi, Archeografo Triestino. 1902.

(2) What a profetic accent resounds in the limpid verses of Petrarca: « Nature provided well for our state when she placed the Alps as a defence between us and German ire ».

(3) Milan — Napoleonic Archives — Drawer 305.

(4) Sorel — L'Europe et la revolution francaise 1904 Vol. 8-19-174.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Quotes on the Birthplace of St. Jerome

Here we have numerous observations of modern authors that St. Jerome was born in Istria and not in Dalmatia as is often mistakenly believed, taken from English and other non-Italian sources:
“His birthplace, Stridon, has at last been definitely located in the region of Aquileia. Hence Jerome was an Italian, not a Dalmatian or a Slav.”
The Commonweal, Volume 18, 1933
“As for Jerome's origin, much ink together with a not inconsiderable amount of irascibility has been expended in contentions that would nationalize him as an Istrian, Slav, Bohemian, and even as a Spaniard; whereas, quite simply, he was an Italian, born, as he himself tells us, “in the town of Stridon, which has since been destroyed by the Goths, but which was located on the confinium of Dalmatia and Pannonia.” ... Jerome's Stridon, then, was an outlying part of the province of Venetia-Histria, formerly the tenth region of Italy, wedged in between Dalmatia and Pannonia, close by the towns of Hemona and Aquileia.”
The Problem of St. Jerome (The American Ecclesiastical Review, Volume 117), 1947
“It may be taken as certain that Jerome was an Italian, coming from that wedge of Italy which seems on the old maps to be driven between Dalmatia and Pannonia.”
—Maisie Ward, Saint Jerome, 1950
“More recently opinion generally has rallied round F. Cavallera's thesis that Stridon should be located somewhere between and a little to the south of Aquileia, the huge city (as it then was) at the head of the Adriatic, and Emona (Ljubiljana), the fortress town lying at the foot of the Julian and the Karavanke Alps to the west and north respectively. Today the area in question lies in north-western Yugoslavia, but in the fourth century it was Italian, an outlying part of the province of Venetia-Istria.”
—John Norman Davidson Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies, 1975
“St. Jerome was born in 347 at Stridon, a town near Aquileia in the extreme northeast of Italy in the border area near the outlying Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia.”
—Jane M. Hatch, The American Book of Days, 1978
“Jerome was an Italian, born in 345 at Stridon, a town in the northeast of Italy above the boot near the Adriatic Sea.”
—Mary Reed Newland, The Saint Book, 1979
“He was born in Stridon, Italy.”
—Don S. Armentrout, An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, 2000
“Jerome was born at Stridon, near Aquileia, now part of the Veneto, but then regarded as part of Dalmatia.”
—R. W. Lightbown, Carlo Crivelli, 2004
“Born at Stridon in Dalmatia, then eastern Italy...”
—Barbara Sher Tinsley, Reconstructing Western Civilization, 2006
“Jerome was probably born in 347. He names his hometown as Stridon, a village in the western Balkans under northern Italian influence. It was near Emona, between the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia.”
Commentary on Matthew (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 117), 2008
“Jerome describes it as oppido Stridonis, quod a Gothis eversum Dalmatiae quondam Pannoniaeque confinium fuit, “the town of Stridon, now destroyed by the Goths, which once stood on the boundaries of Dalmatia and Pannonia,” that is, in the western Balkans, probably to the north and thus within the sphere of North Italian influence.”
—Megan Hale Williams, The Monk and the Book: Jerome and the Making of Christian Scholarship, 2008
“Jerome was born in the north Italian town of Stridon about 347, and was converted and baptized during his student days in Rome.”
Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints, Church Publishing, 2010
“Jerome was born around 340 AD at Stridon, a town in northeast Italy at the head of the Adriatic Ocean.”
—Tom Streeter, The Church and Western Culture, 2012
“Jerome was born to a Christian family in Stridon, a northwestern region of what was then Italy and later northwestern Yugoslavia.”
—Marc Hirshman, A Rivalry of Genius, 2012
“Jerome was born Eusebius Hieronymus of a Christian family in Stridon, Italy.”
—Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok, Who's Who in Christianity, 2013

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Dalmatia: Alessandro Dudan Responds to Arthur Evans

(Written by Alessandro Dudan, taken from “The Saturday Review”, Volume 123, 1917.)

To the Editor of the Saturday Review.

Sir, — As practically all the Italians from Dalmatia who have been able to escape from that unfortunate country, after having suffered as few other nationalities have ever suffered through the Austro-Croatian work of denationalisation, are now serving in the Italian Army, not a single one of those “Italianissimi” has been given the opportunity, I am afraid, to answer the most extraordinary attacks which Sir Arthur Evans and his few friends have been pleased repeatedly to make against them. May I be, therefore, allowed as a Dalmatian Irredento of Spalato, who for ten months has already done his duty in the Army, to raise my voice in protest?

I shall do so without abuse.

I feel entitled, however, to inform him that the “noisy and ignorant” little clique of extremists who are claiming Italy's right to Dalmatia are the best part of the Italian nation, from the Supreme Command and the Government to the extreme Radical and Socialist reformist parties, to which latter Signor Bissolati belongs. Anybody stating the contrary deceives naively himself and his readers.

I do not want to repeat the many and too much already quoted national, historical, and strategic arguments which have been advanced to prove the rightfulness of these claims.

To answer some of Sir Arthur's and his friends' favourite statements it is sufficient to compare the flourishing Dalmatian civilisation before 1797 (Campoformio) with the semi-barberous conditions obtaining to-day in those regions of the Adriatic coast which are under Austro-Croatian or Austro-Slovene rule. I would refer Sir Arthur Evans to Mr. T. J. Jackson's “Dalmatia, Histria, and Montenegro” (Oxford, 1884), which is certain to appeal to Sir Arthur's archaeological instincts. In the meanwhile I will quote some passages of this work, which may serve to illuminate him on the real and impartial facts of the case:
“In the maritime cities of the mainland and on most of the islands the traveller may well imagine himself in Italy, for the language, architecture, manners, and dress of the citizens are the same as on the other side of the Adriatic.” (Vol. I., page 200)
“Zara, Spalato, Traù, and Ragusa were Latin cities when as yet Venice was not existent, and they remained Latin cities throughout the Middle Ages with very little help from her influence until the fifteenth century. The Italian spoken in Dalmatia before that time was not the Venetian dialect; in some parts it had a distinct form of its own; in others it resembled the form into which Latin had passed in the South of Italy or Umbria, and it was only after 1420 that it began to assimilate itself to the Italian of Lombardy and Venetia. At Ragusa it never became Venetian at all, and to this day it resembles rather the Tuscan dialect than any other, while the patois of the common people is a curious medley of Italian and Illyric, with traces of rustic Latin, Vlak or Rouman.” (Vol. I., page 183)
This uninterrupted Latin and Italian character of the country, which existed long before any Slav immigration, was already proved in 1673 by the greatest Dalmatian historian, Giovanni Lucio, whose works ought to be well known to any self-constituted authority on the subject. In the preface to Lucio's “Historia di Dalmatia, et in particolare delle città di Traù, Spalato et Sebenico(Venezia : Curti, 1674), it is stated:
“Having now to write the memoirs of Traù, my birthplace, I have wished to use the modern or vulgar tongue, which may be called Dalmatian no less than Italian.”
If Sir Arthur would like to know how Austria “Croatised” the Dalmatian municipalities, which had until then (1797) been Latin and Italian, let him turn to Vol. II., page 83, of Jackson's work:
“The late podesta of Spalato (an Italian) was, however, ejected with the whole municipality from office (1882) by the Austrian Government to make way for a new corporation of strictly Croatian sympathisers, which after an interregnum of two years was elected under the guns of a man-of-war stationed in the harbour, and which one may therefore assume was forced upon an unwilling people. Spalato has hitherto been no less strongly attached to the Latin or autonomous party than Zara herself, but nothing is now being left undone to give it the character of a Slovene town and to put an end to the Latin tradition of twelve centuries, during which the Croat has borne no rule within its walls.”
If Sir Arthur, notwithstanding these clear evidences of ancient and modern history of Dalmatia, prefers his fantastic political interpretation of historical facts, we cannot help being amused. Ne sutor ultra crepidam! He would be well advised, however, to remember that Austro-Croatian statistics, apart from the proved falsifications, do not represent the scientific principle of nationality, because they are merely based on the principle of the “language in use“. It is thus, therefore, that a very large number of Italians have been registered as Croats by the Croatian municipalities. In the elections under universal suffrage which took place in 1911 it was proved that the Italian national political party amounts to at least 10 per cent. of the population. It is equally well known, however, that at least a third of the 600,000 Dalmatians are acquainted with and speak Italian. To these must be added at least 150,000 Morlacchi, who, while speaking Slav, are Latin by race (Moro-Valachians: see Porphyregenitus's and Lucio's works).

Sir Arthur Evans and his Jingo-Slavs like to quote certain isolated passages (always the same) of Mazzini and of Tommaseo without regard to the context or to the general trend of the writings of these two patriots, who would certainly to-day be the first to protest against such an unfair and false use of their words.

If one reads the correspondence between Mazzini and Kossuth, published in the “Oesterreichische Rundschau” of Vienna, 1883 (see pages 695-714), it will appear that Mazzini dreamed of a Balkan Confederation headed by the Magyars, and directed against Russia and Russian influence in the Balkans. Who would think to-day, after the Magyars' behaviour and that of the Croats, to reward them by giving them Italian cities and Italian provinces?

To say that Tommaseo, who after 1848 dedicated all his political writings (over twenty volumes between books and pamphlets) to fighting the Austro-Croatians in his native Dalmatia, and who to do this started learning Croatian when he was thirty-nine, wished the Slavization of his country, is to insult and to libel his memory. Tommaseo was the official leader of the Italian autonomistic party in Dalmatia, but to protect it from Austrian persecution he could not call them “Irredentisti”, which would have been tantamount to declaring the Italians traitors to the Austrian State. He was therefore obliged to say that then they did not wish for the impossible—i.e., the separation of Dalmatia from Austria, but that they were contented with a state of autonomy which, however, was never granted them.

Sir Arthur's misinterpretation of Tommaseo's lines, “Alla Dalmazia”, must be noted. In order to get the right sense of these lines, referring to the future of Italo-Serbian relations in Dalmatia, let him refer to Senatore Isidoro Del Lungo, Arciconsolo of the Accademia della Crusca, the highest philological authority in Italy, who has already dealt with the question.

One last point I should like to correct in Sir Arthur's statements. Among the authorities which he calls to his aid in order to convince his readers of the preposterous character of Italian aspirations is Camillo Cavour. On page 14-15 of Vol. VIII. of “Storia Documentata della Diplomazia Europea in Italia(Turin, 1872), written by Nicomede Bianchi, the following document is quoted:
“In November 1858 Vincenzo Salvagnoli was charged by Cavour to go to Compiègne, and after a long conversation with the Emperor Napoleon he consigned to him an important Note, in which is was stated that: ‘Northern Italy will include the whole of Piedmont, Savoy and the county of Nice excepted, Lombardy, Venetia, the Italian Friuli and the coasts of Dalmatia.’ . . .”
I don't suppose that even Sir Arthur will be pleased to place Cavour among the “noisy and ignorant” little clique which is fighting most bravely with the Allies for that great Italian statesman's never-forgotten ideal of a united Italy.

I beg to remain,
Your obedient servant,
Alessandro Dudan, Dr. Jur.,
Special Correspondent of the “Messaggero”, Rome.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Exodus of Istrians in the First World War

Italian deportees at Wagna Refugee Camp, c. 1915

(Written by Lorenzo Salimbeni, taken from the newspaper “Il Giornale d'Italia”, November 20, 2017.)

Italians living around the base of Pola were transferred to internment camps

At the outbreak of the First World War the Austro-Hungarian Empire issued evacuation measures for their strongholds, with obvious reference to those that were close to the border with Russia, the scene of the first battles, but also the city of Pola was part of this measure. The Istrian city, in fact, was the main naval base of the imperial war fleet and therefore a call was issued that urged the population to prepare for any special measures. In the spring of 1915, when the movements of the Kingdom of Italy signaled its entry into the war against Austria, the first calls for the evacuation of civilians were made. Some organized themselves with their own means, moving in with friends and relatives residing in other places of the Empire; as regards the Italian citizens residing in the Adriatic Coast, the so-called "regnicoli", those fit for military service were collected in special internment camps, while women, children and the elderly were gradually able to return home through Switzerland.

The exhortation to evacuate first pertained to Pola and southern Istria, then expanded to Rovigno and central Istria, so it is estimated that about 50,000 people (out of a population of 100,000) were loaded onto trains and taken to barracks camps built in Styria or near Vienna. Those destined to live in these Barackenlager first had the traumatizing experience of the interminable journey (in memoirs we often find the word "invaginated", i.e. enclosed or turned inside out, which gives a good idea of how these people had been crammed into cattle cars), after which they experienced the shock of the structures in which they would be forced to live. Wagna, for example, the most famous of these camps, was created from the hasty expansion of a military training camp, in which the buildings were full of drafts and each barrack contained a hundred people gathered in precarious hygienic-sanitary conditions and in extremely close proximity. The Habsburg authorities guaranteed a daily allowance to everyone, but if someone could find work in the area or preferred to settle in a better structure outside the camp, he would lose this small pay. The poor living conditions of the internees of Italian nationality were in vain brought to the Parliament of Vienna by the Deputies Alcide De Gasperi, with special reference to the Trentino, and Valentino Pittoni, who sought to protect the displaced Italians from the Adriatic Littoral. During the so-called "Events of Wagna" the troops stationed to guard the camp (managed in such a way as to resemble more a prison than a shelter for refugees) suppressed a protest demonstration so forcefully that they killed a victim.

When the Italian army was forced to retreat to the Piave, the Adriatic Littoral regained security and the refugees began to return, but so slowly that, in the strikes that shook the Empire at the end of January 1918, workers and military demonstrators in Pola also demanded the immediate return of their relatives. The local administrators did not make significant efforts to help the reintegration of refugees, appealing to the technicality that Pola, Rovigno and the county had never been officially "evacuated", since the authority was limited to "advising" people to leave. Those who were still living in the Barackenlager experienced the national conflicts that were shaking the foundations of the Empire, since the committee that had arisen among the refugees of the Littoral to report to the administrators of the camps lost its solidarity. This committee had always been presided over by representatives of Italian nationality, as Italians were the majority component of displaced persons of the Province and in any case the other ethnic groups were never discriminated against; however, the Slavic and German elements in the first months of 1918 created alternative structures of representation in order to highlight their own specificity in the presence of the Habsburg administration.

Due to the convulsive final phase of the Empire, the return of the displaced Istrians ended only in the first months of 1919, under the Italian military authorities that had in the meantime taken up positions in Julian Venetia.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Overview of Lidia Bastianich's Autobiography

Lidia Bastianich is a world famous Italian chef and author. She is also an Istrian exile. In 2018 Lidia published an official autobiography or memoir, detailing the story of her life—beginning with her origins in Istria to her life as a celebrity chef in the United States.

Overview: ‘My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food’ by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

From the best-selling cookbook author, beloved and award-winning television personality, and hugely successful restaurateur—a heartwarming, emotional, revelatory memoir told with all her hallmark warmth and gusto.

Lidia's story begins with her upbringing in Pola, a formerly Italian city turned Yugoslavian under Tito's communist regime. She enjoys a childhood surrounded by love and security—despite the family's poverty—learning everything about Italian cooking from her beloved grandmother, Nonna Rosa. When the communist regime begins investigating the family, they flee to Trieste, Italy, where they spend two years in a refugee camp waiting for visas to enter the United States—an experience that will shape Lidia for the rest of her life. At age 12, Lidia starts a new life in New York. She soon begins working in restaurants as a young teenager, the first step toward the creation of her own American dream. And she tells in great, vivid detail the fulfillment of that dream: her close-knit family, her dedication and endless passion for food that ultimately leads to multiple restaurants, many cookbooks, and twenty years on public television as the host of her own cooking show. An absolute must-have for the millions of Lidia fans.

The book is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble: My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food

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Excerpt From Lidia Bastianich's Autobiography