ARTS AND CULTURE

Enriko Depiera Collection: Centuries of Istrian Life Preserved by One Passionate Enthusiast

31/08/2018

Tinjan,  the small Istrian village located above the magnificent Lim Valley, besides preserving its tradition of producing the highest-quality Istrian prosciutto, preserves another valuable cultural heritage – the Enriko Depiera collection.

Enriko Depiera (1926-2017) the last male descendant of the Depiera family from Tinjan (originally from Carnia, Italy), devoted his life to collecting and preservation of several thousand different objects related to the life and work of the ancient generations of Istrian peninsula, and Tinjan Municipality inhabitants in particular.

According to Ivan Smoljan, president of Enriko Depiera association, Enriko was fully aware of being the last male Depiera, which greatly affected his passion for collecting. The passion though, has already ran through the family – his ancestors were also collectors, building and carrying forward a rich family legacy. Enriko spent his life in Tinjan working in a post office, while his wife Evelina was as a teacher at Tinjan elementary school. Their daughter Carmen lives and works in Milan, Italy.

Having realized the cultural value and importance of the collected items,  Enriko established an association for the sole purpose of studying, presenting and preserving the natural and cultural heritage of Tinjan region, and Istria in general.

Today the Enriko Depiera association counts 13 members, while the collection is open for public and presented as an exhibition named “Tinjan in the 19th century”.

TINJAN IN THE 19th CENTURY

The collection is divided into several meaningful units (history, economy, trades, traditions and customs) containing thousands of enormously important documents and objects that showcase Istrian history and culture on many levels. One single family’s passion for collecting led to preserving very important local and regional artefacts:

1.   ONE OF THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHS IN ISTRIA 

The family portrait of Giuseppe Depiera and Amalia Pitrov is one of the oldest preserved photographs in Istria. It was taken in 1853 by an unknown author and believed to be one of the first photographs in Istria. 

Giuseppe Depiera and Amalia Pitrov

The collection includes nearly 600 photographs and postcards from Tinjan from late 19th century. Most of the photographs were taken by Vittorio Depiera, one of Enriko’s ancestors. Although Vittorio had lived in Rovinj, he used to visit Tinjan on weekends when he would photograph people, animals, and everyday life. The collection even has pictures from his trip to Athens in 1910.

Vittorio Depiera and his wife
Tinjan children

2.      HANDWRITTEN LETTER BY JURAJ DOBRILA TO MARIJA DEPIERA

Bishop Juraj Dobrila, the central figure of the Croatian national movement in Istria, was personally close to Marija Depiera, Enriko’s grandmother. Given the nature of their close family relationship, he addressed Ms. Depiera as “carrissima mamma” in a letter from 1843. 

3.  ORIGINAL 1876 COOKBOOKS HANDWRITTEN BY LIDVINA DEPIERA

Cookbooks handwritten by Lidvina Depiera – containing recipes for traditional Istrian meals, cakes and pastries. Besides an affinity for cooking, Lidvina Depiera was a post office manager in Tinjan – which was very impressive given the position of women in society at the time. 

Handwritten cookbooks by Lidvina Depiera from 1876

4.      ROYAL ROSÉ WINE BOTTLES

During his mandate in the late 19th century, Former Mayor of Tinjan and winemaker Šime Defar used to send 200 bottles of his supreme Rosé wine to the emperor in Vienna – each year.

5.      MIRROR FOR PROTECTION AGAINST THE ‘MORA’

As an expert in Istrian mythology, Enriko himself made a mirror for protection against the ‘mora’. A mora is, according to Istrian mythology, a mystical being that usually attacks men by sitting on their chest during their sleep. Enriko had therefore created a mirror that would, when used properly, scare away the mora and prevent the attack.

Handmade protection mirror

ENRIKO – THE LAST MALE DESCENDANT OF DEPIERA FAMILY

The Depiera family moved from Carnia (Udine) to Tinjan around the 16th century. They came as a family of traders, and during the years, became one of the richest in Tinjan – both due to financial status and cultural heritage. Enriko, born in 1926, was the last male descendant in the family. After establishing the association Enriko Depiera in 2013.  he shared his lifelong work and passion with the local community.

Depiera Family Coat of Arms

ENRIKO DEPIERA ASSOCIATION

In cooperation with Ethnographic Museum of Istria, the association has started to document a list of subjects for entry into the register of cultural goods of Republic of Croatia in 2016. Last year, Enriko died, leaving his cultural heritage to young members of Tinjan community – for them to convey memories and history of Istria’s past times.

And so future generations are left to discover, research and protect this valuable timeless cultural heritage of Tinjan and Istria, with the help of Tinjan Municipality, Ethnographic Museum of Istria and other sponsors. 

Photo courtesy of: Enriko Depiera Association, Central Istria Tourist Board, Agora

Want to contribute as well? Have a private tour of the collection!

Working time: Year round.

Info & reservations:  +385 91 7621174, +385 91 9417446

Author: Annamaria Gržetić
annamaria@agora.com.hr
ABOUT AGORA
Founded in 2015, our focus is on contributing to sustainable tourism development in the region of Istria, Croatia, through the work we do. Therefore we are keen on building a travel community to connect travelers with locals of Istria. Off The Beaten Path is a movement that embraces tourism development in a respectful manner while encouraging locals and travelers to involve themselves in a much meaningful way. 
Want to work with us, be featured in our interview or simply have a story to tell? Reach us:
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