Pictures from the neighborhood - gossip with few words
“Cire bire” or hold tight
believed that at the docks in the Rijeka’s harbor worked
also the Istro-Romanians who, during loading, tossing bags, to
each other yelled “Cire bire”, what in their language means
“hold on” or “hold tight”. And so the Fiumani started calling
them Ciribiri, concludes our host Pepo
Interview and pictures by Radenko Vadanjel.
known as Pepo, is a 50-year retired coalminer from a small
Istrian town of
Susnjevica, located at the foothills of the mountain
massif called Cicarija, where by some miracle of nature grow
also olive trees. In the last ten years, Pepo, in his humble
household, has been visited by a lot of famous people: Mihai
Dorin, Romanian Demo-Christian member of Parliament,
Alexandru Costa, minister for Romanian National Minorities
Although very popular in scientific circles, Pepo prefers to
be with his “paesani” Bruno Kontus, retired from the
railroad, and Josip Mikleus, unemployed ex-coalminer from
Susnjevica. All three are expert speakers of the old Vlaski
language, so called "Ciribiri" or more officially
Istro-Romanian language – an unusual Romanian dialect
strongly influenced by the Croatian and Italian languages,
which has been preserved for several centuries in the
villages on the north edge of the Cepic field.
Grocery store “Susnjevica” is the epicenter of social events
Pepo and his friends met us in
front of the grocery store “Susnjevica”, in the center of
town, where during hot summer days, in the shade of the
overhang, they drink cold beer.
“You can say that this is Ciribiri dialect, also can be called Vlaski, but people in Zejane call it Zejanski language. To be correct we should say "Istro-Romanian”, explains Pepo the various names for his native language.
“Cire bire” in
Istro-Romanian means “hold tight” or “hold on”, we found out
from our host. It is believed that in the
“Susnjevica is a village ignored by the
While Kontus and Mikleus slowly drank their refreshments in front of the grocery store “Susnjevica”, the epicenter of the social events in town, we went to Pepo’s other favorite friend Miro Belulovic [of the "Fabro" branch, younger brother of Frane, the oft-quoted blacksmith who passed away a few years ago]. Miro, even though, deaf in his right ear which he damaged with the noise in the blacksmith shop in Koromacno, plays his accordion excellently.
“This is first “triestina” made in 1978 between Brsec and Moscenica”, explains barba Miro. “Pepo is like our ambassador, When we receive scientists to study our language, they first come to see Pepo”, explains barba Miro.
At home Vlaski, in church
Croatian, in school Italian
We found out from
our host that the big “Istro-Romanian
Linguistic Atlas” issued in 2002 by Goran Filipi, was
aided by the people of Zejane and villagers south of Ucka as
well as a dozen Isto-Romanians from Susnjevica.
“I understand very
well contemporary Romanian. Last week I received the
magazine AS from
“Do you know where you originally came from”, we asked the host.
“I spent a lot of
time with the researchers from
Romanian language is based on four dialects and Istro-Romanian is very close to one of these [dacoromanian, the official language of the country]. That is why there is a great interest by Romanian linguists to visit the villages around Cepic valley looking for some words that have already disappeared in current Romanian language.
“One time I was
with Anastasia Kinski in Boljun Polje”, said Pepo without
being prompted, shifting to his second big obsession –
acting in films. “She came in a stage coach and I was
supposed to split wood nearby. The movie depicted the
seventeenth century. So she got off her stage coach and
walked to a make shift bar. I looked at her, but I was not
supposed to, so the scene had to be repeated. I had to look
at her, my eyes moved in her direction automatically,
reminiscing shooting of the film “La femme musketeer” which
was made in co-production between Jadran Film and Silvester
“We also had some
love scenes in the castle Belaj from
“Well that was
beautiful. They brought girls from the Tourist Faculty of
Opatija. Five of them were acting as waitresses and five
were supposed to act as prostitutes. What should we do now?
You have to make love, said the director. They placed one of
them in my lap and said – make out! And we kissed and held
each other. We were repeating these scenes for four hours.
Four cameras were recording our scenes simultaneously”,
sighs Pepo, while Miro, a bit ignored, started playing the
“The girl was
collecting flowers and she fell asleep” … sang our hosts.
“Pozdraves ve si veric ne opet!” (We greet you and please come
again), at our request Pepo said it in Istro-Romanian.
“Even we understand this” we commented disappointedly.
“Tot aj bire” (Everything is OK), Pepo said with a serious tone.
This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran and Pino Golja
Created: Monday, September
05, 2007, Last Update:
Tuesday, August 24, 2010