Are Croats romantic? Maybe not as much as Croatian ladies would like. Or as much as Shakespeare would like. But they have plenty of good stories to spice up their inspiration. Here are a few of the juicier ones.
Many years ago, a son of a wealthy miller said he was in love with a poor girl called Janja. The miller had nothing against his son’s choice, but the youth’s mother was appalled with his romantic statement. Once she learned of the young pair’s marital preparations, she went into a frenzy. While the nuptial processional went through their village, she made a terrible oath, saying she’d rather be killed by arrow than have Janja in the family. Then she expressed hope that the entire wedding party turns to stone.
In the blink of an eye, an arrow passed through the village, fulfilling the woman’s wish. The entire procession, including the newly-weds, turned into cold stone. Only the cursing woman was left alive, trembling in despair over what happened.
If we are to believe Croatian writer August Senoa, this story occurred in Susjedgrad, a village in close proximity to romantic Samobor. It features numerous dolomite rocks which, many will agree, indeed resemble a nuptial procession. Who knows? Maybe one day, someone will break the curse of the miller’s wife, free the people from their stone skins and join them in their celebration of love.
The Goldsmith’s gold
August Senoa authored another story, this time related to Zagreb’s upper town. It is called Zlatarevo Zlato (The Goldsmith’s Gold), and talks about a young and honest girl, Dora Krupiceva. She was daughter of the town goldsmith, hence, she was his own “gold.”
Dora fell in love with Pavao, a young man who saved her life from a horse stampede. Yet, their love came to face numerous challenges, as the evil-minded barber Grga, angry that Dora refused his marital offer, plunged the pair into his world of traps and intrigue.
Pavao and Dora managed to avoid their doom many times. But their end was far from happy. Dora’s life was ended by poison. The evildoer paid his due, but another Croatian love story ended in tears.
According to Senoa, but unverified by historical sources, Dora lived in the first house left of Kamenita Vrata. In order to commemorate their famous heroine (Senoa’s novel was translated into numerous languages even during the author’s life) the residents of Zagreb constructed her statue on Kamenita Vrata’s left wall. It is the work of Croatian sculptor Ivo Kerdic.
The Tower of Silba
Silba is a small isle between Premuda and Olib in northern Dalmatia. Although being only 15 square kilometers in size, it was always inhabited by shepherds and sailors. Actually, sailors spent most of their lives abroad, going as far as America and Asia, but they always had their home on Silba.
One of those sailors, by the name of Petar Marinic, got engaged with a beautiful maiden, Antonija Mauro. He promised her their own home, a beautiful garden around it, and a high tower from which all the surroundings can be seen. Of course, once he returns from his naval duties.
Time passed, and after many years, Petar returned to Silba. Sailors were usually greeted by children at the docks, and such was the case with Petar as well. He was surprised when he saw a young girl who looked quite similar to Antonija. Soon, he found out it was her daughter, and that Antonija couldn’t wait for his return and married his best friend.
Now the story becomes a little strange. Petar was not an evil man, so he did not engage in bloody revenge against Antonija and his husband. At the contrary, he decided to wait twenty years in order to marry her daughter. In this, he succeeded, and despite the age difference, the pair spent their time in love, harmony and the romantic tower Petar constructed for his bride. Her mother, however, was forbidden to enter it.
The building is still present on Silba. It is known as Marinic’s Tower. People also call it “The Tower of Love.”
Create your own story
You shouldn’t wait for two decades in order to get married or at least find a love interest in Croatia. Actually, your love story doesn’t have to be strange at all. A great place we recommend to start it is in Rovinj, during the night of St. Lawrence.
Scientifically speaking, it is the time of the year when Earth enters a cloud of space debris created by the Swift-Tuttle comet. Romantically speaking, it is a night filled with falling stars. And in Rovinj, it is a special event, as the town’s electrical lighting is turned off and the streets are lit by torches.
It usually happens around August 10th, ie. the feast of St. Lawrence. If the love story has to be strange, make it so by visiting Rovinj that night. Make the bard proud!