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Battana "Sata" - Giovanni Trani, Rovinj

The batane of Rovinj - Rovigno

Anyone who wanders into Rovinj is overwhelmed with the beauty of its old town nucleus, the harbor. Boats, old and new, of all shapes and sizes, built from different material and for different purposes, give this harbor a very special flavor. And for the connoisseurs, those who have not only blood but also sea in their veins, this harbor offers an additional treat: the batana of Rovinj.

At one time these were the only type of boats used by the fishermen of Rovinj. Driven by oars or sails, these beauties enabled them to fish as far as Bay of Kvarner and Piran. Those batanas were bigger, up to 8 meter long. In most cases, batanas were 4 to 5.5 m long. They could be used to fish in shallow waters, and had excellent rowing and maneuvering abilities. One of their main characteristics was a small draft. Nowadays, unfortunately, the batana is forced to give way to modern and better suited boats. Fishermen now sail farther away in search for fish, which requires better vessels, sometimes with strong and powerful motors.

Not so long ago in the past, the fishermen of Rovinj were proud of their batana. Even today some of them would not dream of giving it up for another boat. Unfortunately, times have changed. Today there are no more than two or three people in Rovinj who can still produce a true batana. The trade of making batanas and other wooden boats is disappearing. We no longer have masters of the trade, those who could pick out the right board, figure out the best proportion, give the batana a soul…

The batana of Rovinj has specific characteristics. The boat had 12 to 15 straight ribs, depending on its length. The length was 4.6m to 8m. Ribs are 35x45 mm thick, and spacing between them is about 29 cm. This is an inexpensive boat, with a flat bottom and slanted board. The bow is slightly angled and there is a mirror on the stern. The batana doesn’t have a keel. Instead, the rudder is sometimes extra long. The bottom is made of straight boards. It rises slightly towards the stern and the bow so that the whole bottom looks rounded from stern to bow. The bow is usually covered up (decked) to 2/5 of the length of the boat. The rowing bench is placed near the 8th or 9th rib, and on the stern there is a triangular seat.

The batane are usually built without any drawings. Boat builders know the basic measurements and proportions from experience, and all the rest becomes the creative uniqueness of the builder. Boards that are used to build the bottom, and often for the sides, used to be made from pine. They were 20 mm thick. The ribs were made from oak and sometime pine. Oak and pine were most popular because of their natural oils which made it more durable.

In the past, all of the batane of Rovinj had a triangular sail, and the mast passed through the bench. Their unique sails was another thing that characterized the batanas of Rovinj. The top of the sail had a sign/symbol that identified the family that owned the batana. This way, family members could see early on when their family boat was returning from a fishing trip.

Ivo Volčić
(Translated by Franko Pavicevac)

Above: A postcard of Rovinj from the 1960s. In the foreground is Toni Bartoli, Claudio de Angelini's uncle, who is painting his old batana.

Two batane docked in the bay of Rovigno and painted in their traditional colors.

The photographs below feature the final phase of the construction of a batana that was recently built in Pula:


  • Ivo Volčić , "Rovinjske batane". Kalendar 1990 - Franina i Jurina, Edicija Libar od Grozda (Pula, 1990), p. 113-4.
  • Planet Adria - Batana -
  • Photographs (3) and etymology (Italian) - Claudio de Angelini -
  • Photograph - Roberto Starec, Mondo popolare in Istria, Collana degli Atti, Centro Storico, Rovigno (Rovigno, 1996)
  • Photograph (top) - O tipologiji brodova i brodica - Batana -

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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran, Claudio de Angelini and Franko Pavicevac

Created Wednesday, November 07, 2001; Last updated: Wednesday, October 07, 2015
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