Andrea Glavina
Prominent Istrians



ndrea Glavina was born on November 30, 1881 in Susnieviza (now Sučnjevica), Istria which at that time was part of the commune of Bogliuno (Boljun).

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educator and linguist

born in Susnieviza
 1881

Glavina was a member of the Istro-Romanian people (also known as "cici" and "vlahi") that in centuries past lived in a large section of the Karst (Carso) region from Castelnuovo (Rakalj) to Trieste. According to Ireneo della Croce's Historia sacra et profana antica et moderna of 1689, they came to Istria perhaps in the 1400s from Bucovina and Transylvania which are in today's Romania, thereby giving their name, Ciceria (now Cicarija), to that region.

During the XVIII and XIX centuries, the Istro-Romanian people lost much of their identity, both in territory and population, under the pressure of the Slovenians and Croatians. By the end of the XIX century, when Romanian scholars started becoming interested in this ethnic minority, their position was already critical for a number of reasons: 

  • they lived in several remote areas fragmented in different communes,
  • they had no juridical status,
  • they had no schools in their own language, and
  • their economic conditions were extremely poor.

In 1857 came the first Romanian, Ion (Ive) Maiorescu (1811-64), to study the towns and language of the Istro-Romanians. In an attempt to prevent their extinction, Prof. Teodor Burada of the University of Jasi, Romania, made several field studies in 1890-91 and 1893 of their language in the area of Mount Uèka (Monte Maggiore). That's when he met the 12-year-old Andrea. With the consent of his parents, Burada took him to Romania to get his education in Cluj and Jasi.

In 1900, Andrea returned to Istria as a primary school teacher, first at Parenzo (Poreè), and then at Santa Domenica di Albona (Nedečæina) where he remained until 1918. At the same time, he was working for the advancement of his derelict people with a number of literary and administrative activities. He remained in contact with various Romanian scholars, in particular his professor at Blaj, A. Viciu, and Matteo Bartoli of Albona. In Bucharest he published in 1905 a Calendar, Lu Rumen din Istria, collected words, proverbs and folk stories of the cici to preserve their memory, and including a 10-page "Vocabular Istriano-Român" (PDF).

He fought tenaciously for the education of his people. There had been some precedents in this regard: a request to the Austrian administration for a Romanian school (in 1887 by Francesco Costantini), which was rejected. A Croatian school was opened in 1905, but that met with little success with the cici.

In Istria, Glavina started campaigning for the establishment of Romanian schools, and after many years of perseverance, at the end of World War I the authorities finally opened a school in the Romanian language in Sučnjevica. Andrea, as its director, named it after the Emperor Trajan for his historical association with Dacia (Romania).

The school proved very successful, having 180 pupils enrolled the first year (1919-20), with the tutoring done in  Istro-Romanian, their native language. More teachers were called in, as well as didactic material from the Romanian Academy.

At the same time, Glavina was also active in local administrative matters during what were politically difficult times under the newly transplanted Italian regime, an important one being the creation in 1922 of the Commune of Valdarsa (Valle d'Arsa), uniting in one entity the seven previously fragmented  Istro-Romanian communities of Susnieviza (also known as Frascati and Valdarsa, now Sučnjevica), Berdo (renamed Briani, now Brdo), Gradigne di Valdarsa, Grobenico dei Carnelli (also known as Grobenico, now Grobnik), Letai (now Letaj), Sucodru (renamed Iessenovich, now Jasenovik and Jesenovik), and Noselo (renamed Villanova d'Arsa, now Nova Vas). He was thus elected as the first mayor of the new Commune of Valdarsa and in this capacity his pace of work took no rest. Among his achievements were the construction of larger premises for the school, roads from Valdarsa to the coast and to Pisino (now Pazin), a post office, and bus services to Fiume (now Rijeka) and Pisino.

His greater projects included the land reclamation of the Arsa marshes (Cepiæ lake), a major work that was contemplated for centuries, but that neither Venice nor Austria ever tackled. This project was completed in 1932, after his death. Another large project was the reactivation of an old coal mine, which eventually became quite large and employed some 6,700 people.

Unfortunately for the  Istro-Romanian community, Andrea Glavina died prematurely in the hospital in Pola (now Pula) of tuberculosis on February 9, 1925 at age 43. Nonetheless, he is today remembered as being the greatest defender of the downtrodden  Istro-Romanians, the most endangered ethnic minority in Europe.

Andrea Glavina is credited with writing two books: In 1905, the Calendar lu Rumen din Istria, a collection of  Istro-Romanian proverbs and stories, and a collection published by his wife Fiorella after his death entitled Promemoria e Lettere, in which she transcribed the Imnul Istro-rumanilor, a patriotic hymn that was written for the inauguration of the  Istro-Romanian school in Sučnjevica in 1921.

Here is an excerpt from the first book which is as poignant today as when these words were written over 100 years ago:

Cănd ur narod cunoște limba se, ie ca și cănd re ve în măre cl'uciu lu se părjun.

L'ubiț limba nostre, fraț Rumer, și se nu areț rușire de ia cănd o cuvintaț renche de fureșt. Durmit-an păr acmoce, ma verit-a vrema se ne zbudin și noi. Ura zvonit-a!

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Created: Sunday, March 5, 2000; Updated: Tuesday, August 23, 2016
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