But the importance of the cities can not be emphasized enough.
Up until the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, all the major cities of Istria and Dalmatia (Zara, Spalato, Sebenico, Traù, Pola, Pirano, Capodistria, etc.) had remained predominantly and almost exclusively Italian. This is important to remember, as it was from the cities that the regions received its character and civilization; its art, its literature, its language, its governors; the cities were the commercial and cultural centres of Istria and Dalmatia, the source of their civilization, identity, heritage and character, which for over 2,000 years was indisputably Latin and Italian.
As famous author T. G. Jackson once pointed out:
“It is to the Latins of Dalmatia that we must look for evidences of culture and intellectual progress, and not to the Slavs. ... The architecture of Dalmatia has so much in it that is peculiar and distinctive... it is entirely urban, and confined to the maritime cities, for the sea has in all ages been the parent of Dalmatian civilization; the history of the country is in fact the history of the maritime towns, and it was in them alone that art and letters found a congenial soil and took root.”In short, it mattered not who lived in the backwards and underdeveloped hinterlands, because the political and cultural direction of Istria and Dalmatia — and indeed the whole story of its history — was to be found in the cities. And this direction had always been, since antiquity, Latin and Italian.
By targeting the cities, filling them with Slavic immigrants, and persecuting the native Italians, the Austro-Hungarian government assured that the whole of Istria and Dalmatia would become rapidly slavicized. This slavicization process was completed by the Yugoslavs at the end of the Second World War, when Istria and Dalmatia were occupied and annexed to Communist Yugoslavia, and Italians were systematically massacred and driven from their homes.
Quotes on the Italianity of Dalmatia
Quotes on the Italianity of Fiume
Quotes on the Italianity of Istria
Quotes on the Italianity of the Quarnaro
Quotes on the Italianity of Ragusa