Jurag Dobrilla is a very famous Istrian. A bishop who came form a poor rural background near Pazin and in the words of the local museum, rose from 'peasant to bishop', he played an influential role in the lives of his counrtrymen. A whole room is devoted to documenting his life in the Ethnographic Museum and as there was an englsh translation we were able to follow his progress easily.
His story appealed to me on many different level. As an Irish person from a catholic background, I suspect there's still some residual gene-patterning that makes the story of peasant to bishop an attractive variation on the rags to riches theme. After all, my mother was still of the generation for whom a son becoming a priest would have been a major dream come true. A bishop, might be approaching the realms of fantasy but you can see where I'm coming from here. As someone who has always written and values the power of the written word, I loved his foray into publishing.
So in his lifetime, Jurag Dobrilla , who spent several years at school in Pazin, became Bishop of Porec-Pula Diocese and then Trieste-Kopar Diocese. He published the first book of prayer in the Croatian language and was one of those responsible for the publication of Nasa Sloga ( our Unity ) a political and social journal and the first Croatian language newspaper in Istria. This journal was around for 45 years and had a big influence on the political, social and educational life of the people. He campaigned hard for cultural and economic rights for Croats and Slovenes and was enlightened enough to want the same for ethnic minority groups as well.
There's a lot to be learned from a visit to Pazin !
Perhaps this should be a shopping tip but it struck me very much as being part and parcel of life in Pazin. As we drew nearer to the centre of town, we noticed that almost everyone passing was carrying a large bag of oranges. Outside the park in the centre, a solitary vendor did a thriving business from his van. I really admire his flair for creatively displaying his produce and the colours were really vibrant and autumnal. I think it was the colour and the deep October warmth of the sun but it reminded me of pumpkin stalls in New England. On the first Tuesday of every month a massive market is held in Pazin. This is the biggest traditional town fair held in Istria and I would really love to see it. If the colur and warmth of this one stall was anything to go by, it must be really something
We were due to leave Pazin in the early afternoon and as we strolled back to the bus office, a large school opened its doors and what seemed like at least 50% of its students flowed along with us. I'd anticipated a bit of chaos and it was certainly lively with so many children letting off steam after a morning cooped up in school. They did all the usual things children do and when I discovered that we were to share our bus with a large contingent of them , I was a bit wary.
But I had a little bit of a surprise coming. When the time came to board the bus, this bunch of jumping, hyped-up kids lined up without anyone telling them and formed a neat, orderly queue. I was gobsmacked. Where I live, children board buses in a wild disorderly scrum with much shouting, pushing and shoving. Unfortunately, it's the same or worse with adults, who have no concept of the word queue. It's a regular experience to stand for 20 minutes waiting for a bus and then be shoved aside in the rush to get on.
Both of us were totally amazed at the behaviour of these children and hats off to those who've trained them. When we got on the bus, there were very few seats left. Seeing us about to sit seperately a little girl whisked a smaller boy from across the aisle to sit with her. Again,well done to whoever is responsible for the children of Pazin being so well-mannered.
Everywhere I went in Istria I came across the name Vladimir Nazor. In Rovinj, the street the Tobaco Factory Art Gallery is on is called Vladimira Nazora, and the name made me curious. I wanted to know who Vladimira Nazora was and when I came to Pazin I discovered very quickly that it's Vladimir Nazor and that he's one of the best-loved Croatian writers of the 20th century. He was born much further south on the island of Brac and died in Zagreb BUT he lived right here in Pazin for a few years and taught at the Gymnasium. His novel Glory Days is set in Pazin, and this book along with Mathias Sandorf, I am currently trying to get my hands on. Of course that depends on whether there's a translation from the Croatian, but from what I read about this man and his activities as a partisan during the war, I feel hopeful that at least some of his fiction or poetry is translated to English.
It was a surprise to find a plaque commemorating his time here on the first street corner I turned in Pazin and to subsequently discover his writings on Brac described in the same feature as Igjnat Job's paintings of Brac. Job's work is currently on display on the street called after V Nazor in Rovinj, so a connection was neatly completed.
When we arrived to Pazin and wanted to leave our car somewhere in the center, many pedestrians and stalls with differnt kinds of goods blocked our way. We had to find a parking spot somewhere else. Later we found out that this is a monthly fair where people from near and far come to sell and buy things. Looking at the stalls there was nothing interesting to buy. The usual stuff. Some clothings, plastic toys, some food stalls... I'd say it's more important for the people to go out and socialise.
This fair takes place every first tuesday in month. This one was an exception as this month first tuesday was on 1.11. which is a national holiday. The history of the fair goes back to 16th century. 1574 to be precise, when Pazin gained permission of helding fairs where people could sell their produce.