During the latter part of the seventeenth and into the eighteenth century, the subject of vampirism was an obsession in Europe. in 1672, a wave of vampire hysteria swept through Istria, one of many such epidemics occurring throughout Europe. (See the chronology and history.) In Istria, many usages and customs were preserved only in specific areas, as happened for example with popular costumes and with the dialects, differing from one community to another, but other customs and superstitions of pagan origin were deeply rooted in the Istrian people. As established by M. Tomšić in his literary works, Istrians share many magical stories, first amongst which are stories about sorcerers, witches and werewolves.
The criminal trial against sorcerers and witches that was held in the environs of Kastav (Castua) as late as 1716 says much about their resilience and at the same time about the persistence of the prosecutors. A colourful description of such beliefs was given by J. V. Valvasor in his book Slava vojvodine Kranjske (1689):
"The people of the Istrian countryside are firmly convinced that sorcerers suck the blood of children. This sucker of blood they call 'strigon' or 'vedavec'. They believe that after his death a 'strigon' wanders about the village around midnight, knocking at, or striking, doors and that someone will die within days in the house whose doors he has struck. And if someone dies during this period, the peasants insist that the 'strigon' has eaten him. Even worse is the belief of these gullible peasants that the wandering 'strigoni' furtively creep into their beds and sleep with their wives without ever letting out a single word. I am particularly concerned about the belief that flesh-and-blood ghosts somehow sneak into the houses and sleep with widows, particularly if they are still young and beautiful. They are so convinced of the truth of all this, that fear will not leave them till they can impale the 'strigon' with a pole from an ash-tree. With this in mind the bravest, determined to do it, wait until after midnight because before then the 'strigon' is not in the grave but wanders about. Then they go to the cemetery, open the grave and drive the pole, thick as a fist or a hand, through his belly, disfiguring him horribly. The blood now starts to flow and the body thrashes about as though it were alive and felt the pain. Then they close the coffin , bury it once again and go home.
This practice, of opening a coffin and piercing the corpse with a pole, is not unusual amongst the Istrians of the countryside, that is to say amongst the peasants. Although the authorities impose very severe penalties if they discover it, since it is against religious beliefs, nevertheless it takes place very frequently..."
Another excerpt from the J. V. Valvasor book is given in Dudley Wright's Vampires and Vampirism. The account appears to be repeating a story verbatim from an article that, according to Peter Haining, appeared on November 14, 1856 in an issue of Chamber's Repository.
"In 1672 there dwelt in the market town of Kring, in the Archduchy of Krain, a man named George Grando, who died, and was buried by Father George, a monk of St. Paul, who, on returning to the widow's house, saw Grando sitting behind the door. The monk and the neighbours fled. Soon stories began to circulate of a dark figure being seen to go about the streets by night, stopping now and then to tap at the door of a house, but never to wait for an answer. In a little while people began to die mysteriously in Kring, and it was noticed that the deaths occurred in the houses at which the spectred figure had tapped its signal. The widow Grando also complained that she was tormented by the spirit of her husband, who night after night threw her into a deep sleep with the object of sucking her blood. The Supan, or chief magistrate, of Kring decided to take the usual steps to ascertain whether Grando was a vampire. He called together some of the neighbours, fortified them with a plentyful supply of spirituous liquor, and they sallied off with torches and a crucifix.
Grando's grave was opened, and the body was found to be perfectly sound and not decomposed, the mouth being opened with a pleasant smile, and there was rosy flush on the cheeks. The whole party were seized with terror and hurried back to Kring, with the exception of the Supan. The second visit was made in company with a priest, and the party also took a heavy stick of hawthorn sharpened to a point. The grave and body were found to be exactly as they had been left. The priest kneeled down solemnly and held the crucifix aloft: "O vampire, look at this," he said; "here is Jesus Christ who loosed us from the pains of hell and died for us upon the tree!"
He went on to address the corpse, when it was seen that great tears were rolling down the vampire's cheeks. A hawthorn stake was brought forward, and as often as they strove to drive it through the body the sharpened wood rebounded, and it was not until one of the number sprang into the grave and cut off the vampire's head that the evil spirit departed with a loud shriek and a contortion of the limbs."
The legend was mentioned by Goerres (La mystique divine, naturelle ed diabolique Paris, 1885, 1. v, cap. XIV), here translated into Italian:
The same story rewritten for an introduction to an Italian TV series labels it as "Istria A.D. 1656 - Krinck nel ducato di Mitterburg (PISINO)":
Ivana, una bella e giovane donna, e' rimasta vedova. Suo marito Jure Grando, morto tre giorni prima per cause sconosciute, è stato sepolto nel piccolo cimitero vicino al villaggio. Il reverendo tenta di consolare Ivana ma oltre alla tristezza c'e' qualcos'altro nel suo cuore... una grande inquietudine: Jure si comportava in modo strano, farneticava ed evocava diaboliche creature della notte... durante la sepoltura, le era sembrato di vederlo sorridere prima che chiudessero la bara. Ivana e il reverendo ignorano di essere tanto lontani da una realta' che spesso la fantasia, pietosamente, non riesce nemmeno a immaginare.
Da li' a qualche giorno in paese circola la voce che Jure Grando si sia trasformato in un vampiro e nell'arco di un mese Krinck diventa una larva di ciò che era stato.
Una terribile epidemia di vampirismo si è scatenata ma qual e' la causa?
Chi ha trasformato Jure in un temibile Arcivampiro?
Ivana otterra' presto tutte le risposte e dalla sua morte nascera' Khavashen.
Al fianco di Ehre von Crayn, un anomalo cacciatore di vampiri, Khavashen dovrà lottare contro la sua stessa natura vampirica e contro avversari ben piu' temibili: la stirpe di vampiri creata da Milika Zorzic, un'Arcivampira affascinante ed antichissima, che vuole riportare in vita un grande amore del suo passato...
And again in Croatian:
Malo jezive glazbe i malo stare suvisle priče o vampiru, uz pejzaže Istre i istarskog sela Kringa, to uvijek pali. Dobili smo odličan domaći dokumentarac, odličan i za najsuvremenije ukuse, koji se može nadmoćno mjeriti s natpisom na etiketi svih prehrambenih proizvoda koje gospođa donosi s tržnice (odabrala Neda Ritz). Scenarij je napisala apsolventica etnologije i povijesti umjetnosti Oljenka Trnski (23), tekst je pisao i govorio njen otac, meštar Mladen Trnski, a riječ je tu o poglavlju iz Valvasorove knjige (1689) u kojem je opisan slučaj koji se u selu Kringa dogodio 1672. godine. Pokojnik Jure Grando pojavljivao se u selu, redovito kod svoje udovice, "silom je obljubljujući" (piše Valvasor), što je jadnici toliko dojadilo da se požalila župniku. On je skupio seljane koji su prvog istarskog i hrvatskog vampira otkopali i u lijesu zatekli svježeg Juru Grandu koji im se cerio. Pobjegli su glavom bez obzira, župnik ih je izgrdio. U drugom pokušaju odsjekli su mu glavu, a grob se napunio krvlju. Od tada Jure Grando nije više uznemiravao mještane, ni udovicu svoju. Vi Trnski (Oljenka i Mladen) naapravite nam toga još. Divno je u današnjoj Hrvatskoj bojati se pravih vampira.