CARLOTTA GRISI was born in Vižinada on June 25th or 28th, 1819, supposedly in the former Grimani family palace (for which there are no reliable traces where it was located), but she moved at a very young age from Vižinada to Milan, where she attended singing and dancing lessons. She had her first public performance at the age of six at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. She was only 13 years old when she graduated, as a child prodigy, and then in 1832 she had her debut performance, followed by performances all over Italy. A few years later, during a performance in Naples, she met Jules Perotta, a choreographer and dancer, what defined her further career. They performed together successfully in European theatres, and she inspired Perotta, so he put together a choreography for the ballet Giselle, one of the most significant works of Romantic ballet (libretto by Theophile Gautier and music by Adolphe Adam). Performing as Giselle, Carlotta Grisi determined her significance and charisma as divine lyrical muse of her day. She retired from ballet at the height of her career in 1934 and nothing is known about her life from then on until her death at the age of 79 years at Saint Jean near Geneva on May 20th, 1899.

 

ANTONIO FACCHINETTI was born in Vižinada in 1805 and died in Venice in 1867. He was a priest and a publicist from a family of lawyers and great land owners. He was a pastor in Savičenta and he learned the Chakavian dialect and was very curious about the customs of the Croats. He signed one of the oldest ethnographic descriptions of rural life of Istrian Croats, from weddings, births, funerals, to dresses, food preparation and folk medicine. This is an article about “About the Istrian Slavs” printed in the journal “Il Popolano dell’Istria” by his cousin Michele Facchinetti, who also was born in Vižinada in 1812. He was an Istrian representative at the Constitutional Court in Vienna in 1848, he wrote political texts and launched in 1850 the magazine “Il Popolano dell’Istria” because he was convinced that writers and journalists had a political mission, and the purpose of that magazine was education, enlightenment and cultural and economic progress. He was considered to be “a lay priest”.

 

GIUSEPPE TUNTAR (Vižinada 1882 – Buenos Aires 1940) was a legendary fighter for worker’s rights who worked in Vižinada, Istria, Trieste, Gorizia, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy and South America. Next to Giuseppina Martinuzzi (Labin, February 14th, 1844 – Labin, November 25th, 1925) he is certainly the most prominent socialist and communist leader in the former Istrian province and Julian region. He was born in Vižinada in 1882 in a poor family. He was schooled in the seminary in Koper. After grammar school he went to study in Graz. In 1905 he joined the Socialist party in Vižinada. He wrote for progressive papers in Pula (Il Proletario) and in Trieste (Il Lavoratore). He was a prominent Istrian exponent of the worker’s movement in the first two decades of the 20th century, recognized by his constant activity in organizing political tribunes, meetings and public actions throughout the whole of Istria. His enthusiasm was respected in the worker’s movement, so he quickly became one of the most famous Istrians of his time. From 1908 to 1910 he was elected secretary of the Istrian socialists and after he worked as director at the Public health institute in Gorizia. He was one of the first socialists aware of the need to involve peasants in the fight for their rights. He quickly became also famous in neighbouring provinces. Tuntar became President of the Friuli federation of Socialists who united all progressive parties and movements. He was the animator of the launch of the weekly paper “Il Socialista Friulano”, which dates back to 1910. The Socialist party under Tuntar’s leadership doubled the number of votes received in the election 1913. During the First World War, he had suffered from asthma and had spent quite some time in hospital. At that time he is translating war news from the Austrian command for the paper “Il Lavoratore”. In the Socialist party in Trieste he was becoming more and more important from 1918 on, due to his revolutionary methods that were quite different from the then prevailing ideas of the Marxists in Trieste. He was a follower of Lenin and the October revolution. He was preparing for a government takeover, considering that the Austro-Hungarian Empire would soon collapse. According to him an independent region under sovereign rule by the Soviets had to be established. He was particularly recognizable in publications and speeches against layoffs in shipyards, and he always advocated for the peasants and opposed the interests of the great land owners. He published his articles in Italian, but also in Slavic languages. His most renowned article against the violence against the Slavic population in Istria and the Julian province was published in thousands of copies. As a political activist he wrote for the progressive, left-wing oriented daily paper “Critica”, where he worked his last years of life. He was an engaged intellectual, speaking four languages and an expert in Roman history. He died relatively young at the age of 58, remaining faithful to his ideals and leaving a significant trace in the history of the labour movement, from his home town, all the way to South America.