I apologize deeply today for being late in writing today’s blog and I am getting a little off-track in subject matter/
I just returned from a fifteen day (exhausting) trip to the Croatia Coast, and my mind apparently is still there, instead of here where it should be. It was full of wonders and I gained a new appreciation of European history.
I went on the trip because of a friend who had wanted to go for years. Croatia, she’s said, is beautiful. Croatia? Why, I replied, would I want to go there? Weren’t they just involved in a war? Wasn’t their president wanted as a war criminal? Yes, she said while searching for a reason that would appeal to me,, but it’s a cruise in a small boat. She knows how much I love boats.
And Lynn is a very good friend and knew 2010 had been a very bad year for me: my mom’s long illness and death, some medical problems of my own, and several other personal losses. Any getaway sounded good. Even Croatia.
I discovered a coast of wonders. The Croatia coast is vast. It lies across the Adriatic Sea from Italy and up the coast from Greece. During the Middle Ages, its coastal cities were among the wealthiest and most democratic of any in Europe. Although some were bombed during the “Homeland” War during the 1990’s, the coastal walled cities stand as they have for many centuries, and residents live in homes dating back to the 13th Century. One, Split, is built on the remains of the retirement home of one of the last Roman emperors. Constructed in 300 AD, parts of the palace, including the walls, still exist.
The history of these cities is rife with violence. Always threatened by outsider, they were plundered by pirates, the Venetians, the Turkmen, then their neighbors. And yet many of their physical structures, particularly the city walls, remain much as they were in the Middle Ages. The houses and walls were built with limestone blocks with no sealing agent, just a workmanship that keeps them standing thousands of years later. The churches are exquisite. And government? One had a government that elected a new mayor every month so he wouldn’t become a dictator or by swayed by special interests. Hummmm? Maybe they had something there.
Although my college minor was history (my major was journalism), the emphasis was almost entirely on American History. I gained a new appreciation for world history on his trip, although my first love will remain American history, especially the west.
The Adriatic, or Dalmatian, Coast, has been ignored for years because of the violence, but now apparently is has been rediscovered. Hundreds of thousands now visit these gems during the summer, but few in the winter, and that was my good luck. Just as I loved wandering ghost towns here in the west, I wandered these old walled cities listening to the voices of the past.
The people were welcoming and ever so proud of their ancient cities and their history. There were a joy and I had to share the discovery with you.