History brought to life – Istrian style

Narrator at Iustitia in Porec, Istria

Our 17th Century tour guide starts the tale

Istria has loads of history and folk tales, and each year Istra Inspirit brings these to life with a series of events. Running from pre-history to the 1920s, these interactive shows recreate key moments in Istria’s history and mythology. All are performed in the relevant locations and include a meal, tailored to the period. The programme runs from June to October, with something happening somewhere every weekend, see IstraInspirit.hr or below for more information. Is it worth going? Last year, I went to see Iustitia in Porec and thoroughly enjoyed myself. This year, I’m off to meet a witch.

All the photos in this piece are from Iustitia, so you can follow the tale in pictures.

 

Iustitia (Justice)

Nobility parading for Iustitia, Porec, Istria

We join the nobility prommenading along the seafront

Porec’s tale is that of Domenico Furlan, an incompetent thief who, in 1699, was caught robbing Porec Basilica (an unbelievably awful crime at that time). 

Our evening started on the seafront among the Venetian ladies and gentlemen of the town taking their evening stroll. A shot rang out and we were off, running with the local guards, chasing a robber. And so the play unfolded, with various scenes enacted all over town. While the real Domenico may have come to an unhappy end – executed for his crime – ours ended far more happily with a baroque show and dinner. It was great fun and a wonderful way to experience a taste of history. Click for more info

 

Mare the witch

marksman in Iustitia, Porec, Istria

a shot rings out

This year, I’m going back to Middle Ages and Grimani-Morosini Castle in Svetvincenat to see the tale of Mare Radolovich and enjoy a renaissance feast in this magnificent Venetian fortress – a place rarely open to the public. 

Mare was the local herbalist and healer who had helped and cared for her fellow villagers. In 1632, her ungrateful neighbours accused her of witchcraft and signing a pact with the devil. Inside the castle courtyard, she was judged and condemned to be burnt at the stake. Was she really burned or did she survive? I’ll let you know. Whatever happens, I foresee it all ending in flames. Click for more info

Click here to see what I thought of it!

Other shows you might like to attend are:

Crispo

Iustitia, the thief is caught on Porec seafront, Istria

the thief is caught

Join the Roman aristocrats at the archaeological site of Vižula in Medulin, where you’ll witness the tragic fate of Crispus, the young heir to Roman Emperor Constantine.

After Crispus’ glorious return in 326 AD, Constantine proclaimed him his successor; something that did not pleased his stepmother, Fausta. Trying to protect her own position at court, Fausta tried to seduce her young stepson, who turned her down. Rejected and with her pride hurt, she took terrible revenge.

Dinner will be a Roman feast prepared following ancient Roman recipes, but hopefully without Fausta’s poison! Click for more info. 

 

Spacio

laundry scene in Iustitia, Porec, Istria

washerwomen abandon their laundry to see what’s going on

Journey back to the 17th Century when the fishermen of Rovinj caught their fish from a batana (a traditional sailing boat), while farmers spent their days working their vineyards (much as they still do today!). In the evenings, they all gathered in the basement tavern (spacio) where they’d discuss the day’s events. After eating the freshly caught fish and drinking plenty of wine, they’d sing songs about everyday events, the sea, heartaches and joys. Sometimes, because of too much wine, heated arguments would arise, and then … you’ll need to see the show to find out more. 

This performance includes a trip on a traditional batana: then you’ll join the locals in their feast of fish and wine in the spacio. Click for more info

 

Lighthouse of love

trial scene in Iustitia, Porec, Istria

there is a trial…

Now for a tragic, romantic tale. During the construction of Savudrija Lighthouse in 1818, the Austrian Count Metternich fell in love with a local girl. The lighthouse became their love nest and still hides the secret of the tragic fate that struck the two lovers. 

This is a story for the senses: accompanied by romantic music and aromatic wood smoke, you’ll enjoy dishes seasoned with aphrodisiac ingredients and make a toast to love with aphrodisiac drinks. Click for more info

 

Escape from the castle

According to the novel by Jules Verne, in 1867 Mathias Sandorf was preparing a conspiracy along with two fellow countrymen for the secession of Hungary from the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The plot was discovered and Mathias and his accomplices were captured, tried and imprisoned in Pazin Castle awaiting execution. The three, however, managed to escape from the castle prison, down into the depths of the Pazin Cave upon which the castle stands. Witness this high-adrenaline escape and celebrate with a typical dinner of the time. Click for more info

 

Old Buzet

singers sing from windows in Iustitia, Porec, Istria

… with serenading

Discover the Buzet of the first half of the twentieth century: its sounds, tastes, smells and spirit. Learn to make bread the traditional way and dance the old dances to the sound of accordion, violin and double bass. Walk through the old town’s streets and squares, listen to Buzet’s unique dialect, play at “pljo?ke” and discover artisan workshops, tasting rooms, wine stores and souvenir shops. Then round off the evening with a hearty peasant dinner. Click for more info

 

The miner’s republic

Execution scene, Iustitia, Porec, Istria

are they really going to shoot him?

This event involves the rare opportunity to visit the mines of Raša. After a bus trip from Labin you’ll descend 150 m underground to discover the lives of early 20th Century miners. 

The time’s 1921 and the oppressed workers are about to revolt – I wonder why and what happens? After they do, you can join them for marenda – a worker’s lunch. Click for more info

 

Mythical creatures of Istria

Dancing at Iustitia, Porec, Istria

and it all ends with dancing

Now for some myths and an event for the kids! Long ago, Istria was inhabited by magical creatures, some as large as mountains, others small like olive trees. At Pula Castle you’ll meet them and journey through Istria’s legends. Join the adventures of Veli Jože, help witches and sorcerers create the formula for their potions, try to build the amphitheatre with the fairies and fight a huge dragon. It’s all hands-on fun, with music, circus, theatre and games. Click for more info

 

All the shows are performed in Croatian with running multilingual translations. Dates, prices and how to book are available in multiple languages on the Istra Inspirit website.

And don’t worry, If you miss a show, it’s all happening again next year!

 

Also see:

Snapshots of history – I see Mare the Witch and then talk with Istra Inspirit’s marketing coordinator to find out more about the project.

 

 

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