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A Geographical and Statistical Account of the Cisalpine Republic and Maritime Austria (1798)

9. Istria, or Histria

The province of Istria (Histria) is a [502] pleasant peninsula, separated from the Friuli by the mountain Carso, and situated between the bay of Triest, and the Quarnercum; it is 200 miles in circumference. In former times this province belonged to Illyria, but was conquered by the Romans between the first and second Punic war, land afterwards annexed to Italy. In the middle age, this country appertained to the patriarch of Aquileja, who, in the 11th century, was invested with the marggraviate, by the emperor Henry IV. As early as 1190, the major part of this territory, situated on the sea, fell under the dominion of Venice, who reduced the remainder in 1420, by force of arms, but were afterwards compelled to cede a small portion of it, with the town of Triest and Padua, to the house of Austria. Venetian Istria is divided into four bishoprics and eighteen districts or territories, contains six large and twelve [503] small towns and boroughs, 200 villages, and 100,000 inhabitants, whose chief occupation consists in agriculture, the culture of wine and oil, the rearing of bees, the manufacturing of silk, leather, tallow, salt, and in fishing. Though there are but few corn-fields, yet the quality of the grain is so good, that on this account the barley is exported as far as Hamburgh. Of the excellent oil of Istria, which fully equals that of Cordova, and Venaffro, 20,000 barrels, together with the greater part of its Muscadine wine, are yearly exported to Venice only, but the wine of Ribolla is generally exported to Germany. The Istrian salt is preferred to that of the isles of the Levant for the salting of fish. The tunney-fish and anchovies fishery are very profitable; but there is often a want of salt, so that many thousands of fish are left to putrify, whence pestilential effluvia arise.

[504] The quarries of marble and stone, particularly near Brioni, form likewise important branches of commerce; and near Sevignano porcelain-clay and alum are found. But the chief riches of this country consist in the enormous forests, which occupy the greatest part of the surface of the country. The forests of Cavalilier, Montona and St. Lorenzo are the most extensive, and contain fifty-eight miles in circumference. They produce not only an abundance of fire-wood, and timber for ship-building, but likewise plenty of game. The four principal rivers are the Timavo, near St. Zuanne di Duino, the Formione or Risano, near Capo d'Istria, the Quieto, in the vicinity of Citta Nuova, and the Arsa [note 1], below Albona.

The district of Capo d'Istria contains one city, several castles, and forty-two villages and boroughs, whose inhabitants prepare [505] yearly 300 barrels of oil, 2,800 casks of wine, and upwards of 70,000 bushels of salt, and various kinds of spirituous liquors. On the banks of the river Risano stand upwards of twenty corn-mills and tobacco-manufactories. In this district we shall mention Capo d'Istria (by the Romans Ægida, and afterwards Justiiopolis), the opulent capital of Istria; it is situated on an oval rock, in the midst of the sea, at half a mile's distance from the continent, with which it is connected by means of a stone bridge. The town is two miles in circumference, and has a cathedral church, built in this century, thirty other churches, two nunneries, six monasteries, some other rich pious institutions, two hospitals, and only one pawn-bank, where money is [506] advanced on pledges. The town is provided with spring water, conveyed thither by means of aquaducts, which pass under the salt-works. This country is also very rich in oil.

2. The District of Muggia, north of Capo d'Istria, contains an isthmus, which produces good Ribolla wine, and much salt.

Muggia Nuova, a fine and populous borough, with a harbour for barges. It contains a cathedral, five monasteries, one hospital; and a free fair is yearly held here in November.

Muggia Vecchia (formerly Monticula) is situated two miles from the first, on a high mountain, [507] Isola, south of Capo d'Istria, is a town situated on an isthmus that runs far into the sea, and produces also Ribolla wine.

3. The District Pirano is as fertile as the former places, and furnishes the greatest quantity of salt.

Pirano, a small, populous, and rick town, situated partly on an eminence, and partly on an isthmus somewhat extending into the sea. This town, together with those of Muggia and Capo d'Istria, have hitherto monopolized the salt trade. Their inhabitants are good seamen.

Punta di Salbor or Salvore, south of Pirano, is celebrated on account of the defeat of the Imperial fleet, commanded by Otho, don of Frederic I. who in that war was taken pridoner by the Venetians.[508]

5. The District Umago is in general flat. Its air is unwholesome, and the forests are very extensive.

Umago is a place with a small population, and situated on an isthmus.

5. The District Citta Nuova extends from the banks of the Quieto, over the villages Verbeneggio, Torre, and the forests Cavàlier, Perer, and Monte.

Citta Nuova is stuated on an isthmus at the mouth of the. Quieto, which forms here a very deep harbour for ships of the largest size; it is a very ancient and decayed town, containing, on account of its unwholesome position, but few inhabitants; it is supposed to have been built on the ruins of the old town Æmonia or Œmonia, and is at present [509] inhabited by fishermen only, having a bishop, a cathedral, and three other churches.

6. The District Parenzo has a fertile soil, but only 4000 inhabitants, who live in eight villages, and are incapable of procuring sufficient hands for the cultivation of the soil.

Parenzo (formerly Parentium) is a well-built town, situated on a rock, and has a harbour for large ships; it is the see of a bishop, has a fine cathedral, and was chiefly peopled by families who emigrated from Candia after its capture by the Turks.

Orsera, five miles from Parenzo, is an old castle, situated on a hill: it has a fine harbour, which affords a commodious shelter in tempestuous weather. Orsera is well peopled, and the usual residence of the bishop of Parenzo. [510]

7. The District of St. Lorenzo, has a fruitful but badly cultivated soil, and in some places there is a want of water.

St. Lorenzo lies in the middle of the fields which are situated between the canal Lemme and the river Quieto.

St. Michele di Lemme was formerly an abbey and a convent of the Camalduan monks, and is at present an earldom.

8. The District of Rovigno has the mosl beautiful quarries, and produces great quantities of oil and wine.

Rovigno, a beautiful and populous town, situated on a rock, extending into the sea, with two good harbours for the largest ships, and 17,000 inhabitants, who are [511] chiefly occupied in fisliing, and the building of small vessels, called Trabaccoli.

9. The County or Earldom Pola is situated thirty-one miles south of Rovigno, and contains 135,632 Venetian campi, or acres, the soil of which is partly even and partly hilly. It possesses a great number of olive-trees and forests, which latter yield a great quantity of game. This earldom has seventy-two villages, most of which are uninhabited.

Pola (formerly Pietas Julia) is an ancient town, celebrated partly on account of its pleasant situation, which is on a hill in the vicinity of a large harbour, and partly on account of its antiquity. The harbour, or rather bay, twelve miles in circumference, is formed and protected by a chain of very pleasant hills; the [512] entrance, however, is rather too narrow for large vessels. The town is surrouded with walls, has four gates, and a castle, which is situatcd towards the sea, on an eminence, almost in the middle of the town. It possesses many antiquities, namely, an amphitheatre, 366 feet long, 292 broad, and seventy-two feet high, with 144 arches, ranged in two lines; farther, nearly in the centre of the town, are the ruins of two temples, one of which was built in honour of L. Sergius Lepidus, by his consort Salvia Postuma, and the other by the town of Pola, in honour of the city of Rome md of Augustus. We are farther - to notice the cathedral church of the bishop of Pola (who is a suffragan of the archbishop of Udine), built upon the ruins of a heathen temple ; a Greek church, and three convents. The town is inhabited by 7,000 inhabitants, whose principal branch of trade consists in (513) the fishery of tunney-fish, carried on between the rocks near Pola. During the fishing-time, two men are continually on the watch near the entrance of the harbour, in order to observe the tract or passage of the tunney-fish, and after great numbers of them have entered the harbour, the entrance is immediately shut up with nets, and the fish are caught with ease.

Brioni are islands or cliffs, west of Pola, producing the finest marble.

Fasana, a small place, with a bay, where great quantities of fish are caught, with which the inhabitants carry on a tolerable trade.

Momorana, an old castle, east of Pola, in the vicinity of the forest Cauran, and has two harbours.[514]

10. The District Dignano is very fruitful but has not sufficent fresh water. The number of its inhabitants amounts to 4,600, who possess an abundance of corn, wine, wood, game, fish, nutgalls, marble, sbones, mortar, and gum.

Dignano, three miles from the sea, is a considerable borough, seated on a hill, with a collegiate and several other churches, and two monasteries. The collegiate church contains fine paintings by Veronese, Palma, and Tintoretto.

11. Valle, an open borough, with a castle. It possesses a painting by Tintoretto in one of its churches, and is the chief place of the district. [515]

12. The Distroct of Albona is mountainous, and full of stones.

Albona, an open place, but well peopled, has a castle situated on an isthmus, formed by the canal of Arsa and the Gulph of Quarnera, connecting the two parts of the district with each other; it has likewise two collegiate churches.

Fianona, a borough or rather castle, surrounded with walls, and is four miles from Albona, and one from the sea; it has a harbour, and a spring at the foot of the Monte Maggiore, which sets in motion twenty-two mills before it reaches the plain;

13. The District of Montona extends from the river Quieto to the Ausrian county Pisno, comprehending the enormous foress belonging to the sates of [516] Venice. The woods afford quantities of timber, which is floated down the Quieto to the Adriatic Sea. This borough lies, as it were, in the centre of Istria.

14. The District of Grisignona, with the chief place of the same name, is situated north of the Quieto, and is well peopled.

15. The District of Portole, between an arm of the Dragogna and the Quieto, has a castle of the same name.

16. The Distroct of Bugie, with the castle of the same name, is situated between the Dragogna and the Quieto.

17. The District of Raspo, with twenty villages, is mostly mountainous. In these mountains rises the river Quieto.

[517) The chief place is Pinquente, a borough, with a castle, situated on a hill; it carries on a brisk trade with corn, wine, oil, &c.

Pietra, Pelosa, and Raziza, two miles from Pinquente, are boroughs, with castles.

18. The Feudal Didtricts of St. Vincenti, with the village of the same name. Barbana, with a village of the same appellation, on the river Arsa, having two castles, and another village belonging to it. Visina, with jthe village Visina, situated in an even and fruitful country. Piemonte, with the village Castagna, near the river Quieto; and lastly, the manor of Momiano, between the rivers Dragogna and Quieto.

10. The Territory Dalmatia

is partly situated on the continent, and consists partly of islands. About the close of the tenth century, it came gradually under [518] the dominion of the Venetians, after they had cleared the Adriatic of pirates, with whom it was infested. That part of this province which the late Republic, of Venice possessed under the name of Dalmatia, consisted of the islands Cherso and Osero, Veglia, Arbe, Pago, Brazza, Lesina, and Curzola; and on the continent, the counties of Zara, Sebenico, Trau, Spalatro, Nona, and the districts of Novegradi, Clissa, Knin, Scing, Castell Nuovo, Macarsca, Almissa, Imoschi, Cattaro, and Budua.

This territory is bounded on the north and fouth by Croatia and Bosnia; on the east and west by the Adriatic and the river Morazza or Bojana; and is watered by the rivers Kerka, Cetina, and Narenta. [519] The coast is replete with harbours, and' the navigation is very safe on the canals formed by the various islahds, the Gulph del Quarnero excepted, which in stormy weather proves very dangerous and fatal to the shipping. The soil is rather unproductive of corn, and upon the whole badly cultivated; but there are enormous forests, and many large pasture-grounds, very favourable for the breeding of cattle. Here is also plenty of wine, oil, and fruit, a small quantity of silk, but much wool; and the coasts, as well as the harbours, afford an abundance of delicious fish. The inhabitants; 250,000 in number, are a spirited and martial people; they speak the Sclavonian language, and are loyal towards every government that treats them with mildness, respects their nobles, and supplies them with the necessaries of life. The inhabitants, distinguifhed the appellation of Morlachs, live in the fertile vales of Chotar, near the sea, along the rivers [520] Kerka, Cetina, and Narenta, and between the mountains, in the south of Dalmatia, and in the plains of Scogra and Knin; but in the caverns, and the woods of the rocky mountains, live the rapacious Haiducks, four of whom will attack and overcome fifteen to twenty travellers. The; Morlachs, who are also known by the name of Uhlans, are good-natured and hospitablie, yet extremely vindictive when offended. The men abhor agriculture, and occupy themselves merely with their flocks, and with pottery, or enlift in the armies. The women make various kinds of embroidery, knit, weave, &c. They also perform the labour in the field, and other painful work.

The continent of Dalmatia, together with the isles belonging to it, were divided into six counties, three districts, and one maritime province.


Note 1 - the original text was misspelled as Arta, but which is correctly spelled in Item # 12.


  • A Geographical and Statistical Account of the Cisalpine Republic and Maritime Austria. With a Map, Describing the Partition of the Venetian Territory, and the New Limits of the Cisalphine Republic. Translated from the German, by W. Oppenheim, M.D., Printed for G.G. and J. Robinson (London, 1798), pg. 501-520.

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Created: Saturday, November 21, 2009; Last Updated: Sunday, January 31, 2016
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