Premantura

Premantura from air

In the southernmost part of Istria (county of the Republic of Croatia), on a sliver land surrounded by the sea and perched on the top of a hill, there lies a small and ancient village. It had been called Promontorium Polaticum first, then Promontore (Promontore d’ Istria) and finally Premantura.

PREMANTURA INTRODUCTION

Throughout history Premantura & Kamenjak have been exposed to constant changes of government due to the importance and uniqueness of its position. In the 20th century, the inhabitants of Premantura had lived through six different political regimes or states. The inhabitants of Premantura became famous for their ample to catch of a very delicious type of crab. Today Premantura has 850 inhabitants and the main economic activity is tourism, which is in constant development. Premantura is naturally connected with the Cape Kamenjak – a small peninsula which was, due to its exceptional beauty and variety of plants and animal species, declared a protected area back in 1996. Kamenjak peninsula is 3400 m long, wide between 500-1200 m and includes 30 km of coastline, beautiful bays and beaches, many protected and endemic plant and animal species such as: endemic orchids, butterflies, Mediterranean monk seal, crabs and more.The best evidence about the ancient history of Premantura Kamenjak are the 146 dinosaur footsprints found on Kamenjak that are more than 90 million years old.

PREMANTURA PHOTO GALLERY

Gallery Photo credits: (1) Private collection, (2) Danijel Bartolić, (3) Travel Premantura, (4,6,7,8) Bojan Širola, (5) Wikipedia, (9) Smještaj Hrvatska

 

The village sits on the hill, the center of which is located at 47 meters above the sea level, at 44°48′12″ Northern latitude and 13°54′12″ Eastern longitude. The geographical position and the vicinity of the sea have a great impact on the climate which is mild Mediterranean climate with a high number of sunny days. The average temperature in the coldest month i.e. January, recorded over several years is 6.2°C and in the hottest month i.e. July, 23.4°C. In those two months, the average temperatures of the sea are 10°C and 25°C, respectively. Sun is not in short supply; there is plenty of it, flooding this region with 2311 hours of insolation each year.

PREMATURA KAMENJAK PHOTOS

Premantura from the north (photo by Danijel Bartolić)

Today, Premantura count about 850 inhabitants. In the past, Premantura inhabitants used to make their livelihood by working the land and fishing. Those households that were better off sustained themselves by agriculture or fishing only. Medium sized and small households were forced to do both. The industrial development of the city of Pula, attracted people from neighbouring town and villages. They come to Pula in droves, looking for permanent employment. Such migration flows were additionally enchanced by the post war political neglect of the agriculture and fisheries. The 1960s saw the start, albeit the modest one of the development of tourism which allowed people to have an additional source of income.

The inhabitants of Premantura became famous for their ample to catch of a very delicious type of crab, or we should rather say, the female spider crab (Maia Squinado).

 

The sea has always been rich in many different types of good fish. In addition, however, to the fact that in those days unfortunatly was impossible to preserve the catch, supply by far exceeded demand. The inhabitants of Premantura became famous for their ample to catch of a very delicious type of crab, or we should rather say, the female spider crab (Maia Squinado).

Read more about gastornomy in Premantura in Premantura gastronomy section below. Venetians called it “granso” (granco) and the female “gransievola” (grancievola). Our neighbours from across the Adriatic had developed a special appreciation for this delicacy, remaining for a long time the biggest market for the Premantura crab.

Premantura old tower Turanj

Premantura center & old tower Turanj (photo by Travelpremantura.com)

The fertile red soil treated with animal manure has been very generous. Any limitations imposed upon gardening for instance, were solely the result of the scarcity of water – there has been never enough of it. Winds have been bringing from the sea a fine blanket of salt and other sea essences, giving special aromas to the crops and various wild aromatic and medicinal herbs. Both flora and fauna profited from it but, more importantly, so did the quality of life of the people living in Premantura and in the immediate vicinity. For instance, the quality of ewe′s cheese (read more about Premantura ewe′s cheese), which had long been appreciated by the Venetian gourmet market, also gained from it.

In the twentieth century, the village of Premantura and its inhabitants had lived through six different political regimes or states.

 

Local people speak a certain type of Croatian vernacular, which they called “Po našu” (roughly “the way we talk” or “our way”), as well as the Istrian – Venetian or a combination of the two. Older man, as the result of the year of service in the Austrian army (mainly in the navy – Krigsmarine), also spoke German. In the twentieth century, the village of Premantura and its inhabitants had lived through six different political regimes or states, namely: The Austro-Hungarian empire, the Kingdom of Italy, Third Reich (Kunstenland), the Allied Forces military administration (Zone B), Yugoslavia and now Croatia. Those changes which had not always been benevolent and gentle, had left a deep mark on the society, language, customs, culture, work and other. In the aftermath of the World War Two, Premantura saw a succession of quick changes, particulary in terms of livelihoods work. The people abandoned the aforementioned agriculture and fishing, and the very culture of work and the attitude to work changed significantly. The place was exposed to heavy migrations and all their implications.

Today the indigenous population is very small and, by virtue of this very fact, more vulnerable to any changes in its fibre. And yet, the changes are great and tumultuous, almost violent, with the result that the majority of special local features are getting lost forever.

 

PREMANTURA HISTORY

premantura_history_01If we skip a period of 100-120 million years since the dinosaurs left their footprints on the island Fenoliga (Fenoliga – Island of dinosaurs and dinosaure footprints on Kamenjak), history or prehistory of Premantura and Kamenjak begin with bronze age when these areas have already been settled. Scientific research on this time are not known to the general public, but traces of habitation even in pre-Illyrian times preserved to the material evidence, and in toponimic names used by today’s inhabitants. At a distance of 1 km from the village of Premantura, there is a hill Gradina which as its name says, testifies to the appropriate prehistoric building. A few kilometers south of Premantura there is a localition called Kastelir, as therefore the synonym of a hillfort. Gradina or kastelir were infact buildings of stone blocks designed for habitation, but also to protect the inhabitants against attacks. Also, on the northern direction, towards a village called Volme, there is a Gradina which indicates the existence of a prehistoric cemetery. There are also traces of human settlements in this area from the Roman era: the remains or ruins of Roman villas and buildings in Runke.

It is known that a unique and a very valuable prehistoric iron cross axe, originating from Greece – which were made from the end of the 10th century BC to the 7th century BC – is the first and only finding of this type of tool or weapon in Istria.

 

Even in Roman times, this area was called Prumunturium Polaticum, which means The Cape of Pula. Later the name changed to Promontorium Polaticum. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Premantura shared the fate of the city of Pula and Istria, where the authorities alternate Byzantium, the Patriarchs of Aquileia and Venice. During this time Premantura was in possession of the bishops of Pula and later family Catropola or Sregija. In the course of its history the whole Istria is often been hit by plague, of which he the worst was in the 1631st year when it killed the whole area of Pula and in Premantura the entire population was swept away. In such circumstances, the Venetian authorities undertook a series of measures for the resettlement of these areas and begin to bring the inhabitants from the Apennine and Balkan Peninsula.

As the real beginning of the Premanturian history we can take 1585th year when the Venetian governor Renier brought and gave the investiture of eight families from Zadar.

 

premantura_history_02At the beginning of the 16th century in the area of the Pula and Premantura were brought a group of people from Bologna (Italy), but the attempt failed, and soon they returned to their lands. As the real beginning of the Premanturian history we can take 1585th year when the Venetian governor Renier brought and gave the investiture of eight families from Zadar. These 8 families lived in the vicinity of Zadar, in the places in which they came fleeing from the Turks from their original place of residence in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Montenegro. It is characteristic that the surnames of this people brought in the 1585th year,are not actual today, but not because they have disappeared, but probably as a facrt that the surnames were changed over time, and possibly oweritited. After the 1585th year, other, smaller groups have immigrated exactly in the 1597th and 1598th year.In this period the village grew rapidly. From the beginning of settlement, Premantura as important military point of the the northern Adriatic was exposed to attacks from the sea by Senj uskoci, Ulcinj pirates and others who fought against Venice. In the period from 1615th to 1618th was led the Uskok War, which was actually a conflict between Venice and Austria and Istria during this period was significantly devastated. Uskoci ravaged coastal towns in Istria, but they had their allies, particularly in Premanturi. 1632nd was founded the Premanturian parish and as is carved on its church portal was built the church of Sv. Lovro itself. Premantura rapidly developed and soon became one of the largest places in the southern part of Istria, not only in population, but also by the physical and economic indicators. Thus, in one report from 1638. states that eight families from Zadar (1585th year) increased from 40 to 270 souls. 1799th year Pula according to the census that was conducted immediately after the fall of Venice had a population of 661, and Premantura had 578 citizens and was, behind Pula,the largest settlement in the Pula area. When the Premanturians ran out of pasture for livestock and firewood and vineyards, the Venetian Senate has allowed grazing on the Pula Municipal land and logging in the surrounding forests. The area the property of Premanturians were increasingly spreaded to Pula. As the number of inhabitants and farmlands in Premantura area was overhelming, it began the migration to Pula, and the citizens of Premantura started to build a new settlement and villages outside Premantura such as: Banjole, Vinkuran, Vintijan Valdebek. The inhabitants of these villages were called Vanjari (outlands people – because they went out). All these villages belonged to the parish and church Premantura so there led births, marriages and deaths. Today the deceased from these villages are buried in the cemetery Premantura. Centuries affiliation of most of Istria to Venice ends with the Napoleon’s occupation of Venice and the formation of the Illyrian provinces, and after the fall of Napoleon, the whole area was given to Austria. The Austrian government created a new moment with the sudden economic development especially Pula and so Premantura.

Pula became the main naval port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they built a shipyard – Arsenal. On the location of the Gomila hill, the austrian army began building a naval base with installing long range cannons. Completion of the entire project is stopped because of The First World War. Even before that, for the purposes of maritime signaling infrastructure, the austrian army build Porer lighthouse near the Cape Kamenjak,and also the church tower in the center of Premantura had installed a ship’s mast from which signals are administered within ships flags and other forms of visual signaling for the ships on a route around Punta Premantura (Rt Kamenjak).

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Premantura old tower

Because of the development of Pula, Premanturian people, except working in the fields and sea, began to work for wages in industry and construction. In the second half of the 19th century under the influence of Naša sloga, lots of Croatian reading rooms were opened, so in 1906th year the first Croatian reading room in Premantura was established.The First World War was brought great changes again. As the men were on battlefields or in an industry that has worked for the military, women, children and elderly were evacuated in Austria and Hungary (Gmund) where due to starvation, unhygienic conditions many died of disease, especially children. At the end of the war there was a new change of government. This time it was the Kingdom of Italy, which is in addition to economic pressures, soon began to nationalist pressure and Italianization of the population. As a reaction to repression, many Premanturians, like other folk of Istria fled to Yugoslavia. After two decades, reaches a new war, a new mobilization and new victims. At the beginning of the war, the changes was not so drastically felt, except in families people who have been mobilized in the Italian army and sent to the battlefields. Although separated from the immediate war, many people from Premantura choosed the anti-fascist side, especially after the 1943rd year when comes the capitulation of Italy.

The limited space and detachment of German soldiers who stayed in Premantura since October 1943rd year, to the spring of the 1945th year, prevented the development of concrete military actions, but all the time the National Front worked in the conspiracy, and finnaly leadning on the 28th april 1945th year when in the harbor Runke a sailing squad of partisan combat boats arrived; 360 years after the arrival of the first Premanturians it comes to fundamental changes that affect the entire life of the whole area. In the next period lots of Premanturians left the village.

Some went to a nearby Pula, some in Italy or even further into the world. Premantura in that time has been discharged, and then again, begins the settelment of new people even so the demographic structure greatly changed. In the 1945th year actually begins a process that is so significant for the village.

PREMANTURA GASTRONOMY

Premantura´s crab

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Premantura crab served

Premantura is known for a type of crab that belongs to the family Maia squinado, or how Premantura´s people says “Raki”. “Raki” says for male crab and “račica” for female crab(Istroveneteian says “gränso” or “gransievola”). The crabs are catched in fish networks that have large openings, and the they are relatively low. Fishermen call them “škvanjere” – the name comes from the time when the fishermans were hunted “squain”, the Croatian “sklat”, a type of crab which is now almost extinct. Physically the structure of the crabs is very different by gender: males are larger with a very large pair of pliers. There are considerable differences in the housing of reproduction organs: male crab has a flat logos tab, while female guards its seeds into the large bulb.

This type of crab is catched, except in the southern and western coast of Istria, only on two sites in Europe: in the area of Sicily and one zone in Bretagna (France). In Istria, looking toward the south, the crab are catched only near the Rt Kamenjak, to the right side. The best are along the coast west of Premantura to Brioni or Rovinj. To the north of Istria quality of taste declines.

The crabs are actually well known for they excellent taste of meat. Some restaurants serve only white meat, but it does not provide full, true pleasure. It is the taste between males and female that make a big difference . In the male can be felt more than ten different flavors. The Premantura′s crab can be served: boiled (mostly males), salad, stew – “Brudet” (female) and grilled. The crabs should be cooked in the boiling water for exactly twenty minutes, then take the crabs out and cool them. The next thing is to take out their sexual tongue and left to wring liquid. Cleaning crab is a time consuming job that requires patience. When making salads should stir all edible ingredients, add the olive oil and a drop of vinegar, and possibly a little pepper. Local experts are mixing with white meat the brown content from inside the shells of crabs. Lemon, which is often served with the crabs, its only a fashionable and uncritical acceptance of non-autochthonous cuisine.

“Brudet” – a stew of this type of crab is has a really and extraordinary taste. The only, better taste of a “brudet” – stew, can be made of a different type of crab called “Grmalji” (grancipori, lat. Dromia vulgaris). When making a “brudet” its possible to add different types of fish or molluscs. Grilling the Premantura′s crab is done in a thicker layer of hot embers and ash. The grilling completely burned legs and claws, the shells are burned beyond recognition. The meat is characterized by excellent whiteness and it is very tasty. The unique scent of a grilled crab, its considered a unique and tasteful experience.

Premantura crab

Premantura crab

Premantura‘s crabs were prized in Venice. In the past, local fishermen paddled continuously for days to Venice to sell crabs. In Venice, the quality of Premantura‘s crab was realized and praised by famous writer Ernest Hemingway. The catching season starts in the beginning of December until the end of May. Maia squinado comes in shallower zones and it can be revealed using “Laštra” (Glass). They appear in a pile atop one another and form a cone shape. A group of crabs must be besieged by the fishing net, forcing the crabs to escape. In the past it was possible to catch up to 200 crabs using one fishnet with the method explained above. When the cabs begin to roam freely or are situated in the sea depths, its possible to catch them only using fishnet with the experience gained generations. With the arrival of warmer days crabs come into the shore shallows and can be catched with “Grampa”. “Grampa” is a special tool made of elastic, steel wire and attached to a wooden handle. The handle has extensions that reach up to a length of 12m.

In late April, crabs usually go to the coast, most females.. It is estimated that in the formation of crabs, its is usually 15% males. On the way females released their eggs and semen is placed at the sea bottom. The eggs are starting to develop on the western coast of the Adriatic. In the process of maturing, the cancer begins to move toward deeper water.

Premantura´s crab fest

Premantura′s crab fest has a long tradition. In the past there was many many crabs and fishermen didnt have anyone to sell them. The new settlers in Premantura didn′t like crabs, as they was called them – “spider”. At that time, the squid was considered a lower category of edible things from the Adriatic Sea. Feast of Premantura′s crab was maintained in the bay of San Martin (Polje) which lies a few kilometers from Premantura. The time of this event was the first May because the people was off duty, and the season of crabs was closed. Hanging out in the bay of San Martin was far more important than a crabs, no matter how delicious and good they are or were.

When clustered branches had burned, a thick layer of ash and embers would remain. Fishermen drew the crabs from the very trap in the sea. Then crabs would be arms squeezed and so collected, but alive, would be pushed into the embers. Then it would be completely immediately covered with surrounding fervor. After a few tens of minutes the baked crabs were removed and leaved to cool. After that the crabs were smashed and eaten. Eating baked crabs was not easy thing to do – the hands would be turned completely in black. If someone would not mind, crabs would be washed in the sea. This traditional method of cooking Premantura′s crabs is called “Na Fraški”.

 

Grmalji´s crab

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“Grmalj” crab

Except Premantura′s crabs, the inhabitants of Premantura often went hunting for a specific type of crabs called “Grmalji”. The scientific name for this type of crab is Dromia vulgaris and also the very common name is “gransipori” (in Veneto).Hunting this type of crab is difficult and dangerous job, but people are hunting them because “grmalji” are the essential ingredient of the best crab stew ever. The best time to catch “Grmalji” is by night, without wind and waves. The rule is to always go in pairs, never three people and never alone. Mandatory equipment are rubber boots to prevent slipping by walking on sharp stones. What was higher ebb it was better. Usually the best time to go hunting Grmalji is in summer months, because in the winter months the water is colder and crabs go into the deeper sea.

 

Grmalji brudet (stew)

grmalji_crabs_premantura_2

Grmalji brudet

If you go hunting in pairs, the first person must always have a light – in one hand, and in the the other “mačina” – a special device for hunting grmalji. The second person must have a litter bag in which the first person will place an undamaged and alive crab. Great care must be taken while hunting grmalji, because they must not be damaged to preserve that all the nutrients from the crab do not leak if its damaged. When the crab is pressed by mačina, then you should catch his pincers to prevent his attack. Grmalji crabs are known for having a strong and big pincers and if they catch the finger it can be painful and dangerous. Often on the coast there is a lot of fish so on the way catching crabs is possible to catch occasional fish that can been added to the crab stew. Each pair of hunters have their own places to hunt and the location must remain secret. Today in the fish markets there are not grmalji on sale. All who love them keep them for themselves or give as a gift to family or friends.

More info about Grmalji: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer_pagurus

 

Wild asparagus

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Wild asparagus “fritaja”

Kamenjak asparagus is a eatable plant very common in whole Istria, especially on Kamenjak. There are lots of asparagus sorts and on Kamenjak grow just one sort with the scientific name “Asparagus officinalis-tenuifolius”. The asparagus season on Kamenjak begin in spring till June. Asparagus is associated with a kind of chameleon plant because it adapts to the immediate environment. If the asparagus is growing in the grass – then its thick, soft and smooth. If the asparagus grow in the bushes, than is hard and curved; where no light the asparagus become high and light green colored.

To collect the asparagus You must first recognize the plant, called “Šparožina”. Šparožina is a green colored prickly bush. When You find a šparožina just follow its roots because the yield – aspargus grow from the šparožina roots. The coomon rule its not collect little asparagus because its better to let it grow and become big and eatable.

There are lots of meals You can cook using asparagus. The most popular is “Asparagus fritaja” – in free translation “asparagus with crumbled eggs”. Also the popular using of asparagus is in salads, stews, risotto and it can be conservated also. Asparagus are very healthy plant because eating then You purify the kidneys (that that specific odor when You go to toilet).

Asparagus is known as an excellent source of folic acid, B vitamins, essential for proper cell division and DNA synthesis and essential for cardiovascular health. Asparagus is also a source of beneficial phytonutrients for health, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which can act as powerful antioxidants and protect cells from oxidative damage caused by the free radicals. Because they are rich in nutrients and low in calories – one cup of cooked asparagus provides only 43 calories, asparagus is desirable to include in the “healthiest way of eating.”

When collecting asparagus watch out for the snakes because the growing season of the asparagus concur the snakes season. The best is to take a long wooden stick.

Asparagus recipe: “Fritaja od šparoga” (asparagus with crumbled eggs)

Ingredients:

  • 20 ounces asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • salt
  • 5 ounces feta cheese

Preparation:

Break the asparagus into little pieces and put them in olive oil and saute until softened with the addition of a little water. Crumble the eggs and season with salt. When the asparagus are tender, add beaten egg and add feta cheese. Gently stir until the eggs solidify. Serve immediately.

More information of asparagus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagus

 

Premantura ewe′s cheese

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Kamenjak ewes cheese

Nature conditions and winds have been bringing from the sea a fine blanket of salt and other sea essences, giving special aromas to the crops and various wild aromatic and medicinal herbs. Both flora and fauna profited from it but, more importantly, so did the quality of life of the people living in Premantura & Kamenjak and in the immediate vicinity. For instance, the quality of Premantura ewe′s cheese , which had long been appreciated by the Venetian gourmet market, also gained from it.

In the past, the Premantura households were milking sheeps, average 70 days in a year. Larger families have produced about 200 kg of cheese per year, while smaller families produced 20 – 50 kg goat cheese annually. Today, in the area of Premantura & Kamenjak there is only one household producing ewe´s cheese – Istrian farm in the Polje bay (Kamenjak).

 

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