A Brief history of fiume
Fiume has the distinction of being the twentieth century’s most frequently disputed city in Europe. The city, whose name derives from the Italian word for river, is situated on the northernmost coast of the Adriatic Sea. It is still called River except that now it’s the Croatian word, Rijeka. The narrow river, Eneo, separates Fiume from the Yugoslav city of Susak.
Fiume, along with Trieste and the entire Istrian peninsula, was part of the Italian province of Venezia Giulia, named after Julius Caesar. This area was ceded to Yugoslavia by the Paris Peace Treaty of February 10, 1947. The citizens of this region were known as Giuliani, or Giuliani-Dalmati, due to the fact that the citizens of Zara, on the Dalmatian coast, joined in the exodus.
Fiume was ruled by the Romans in 180 BCE, when the city was first known as Tarsatica, then, briefly, as Vitopolis and later as Civitas Flumen Sancti Viti (City of the River of St. Vitus). Saint Vitus and Saint Modesto are the co-patron saints of Fiume. The Venetian Republic ruled briefly over Fiume and, considering it a rival, destroyed the city in 1508.
The Kingdom of Austria occupied Fiume in 1522. After more than two centuries of occupation, the Habsburg monarchy of Austria prepared to annex the port of Fiume, along with all of Croatia, in 1776. It was then that the citizens of Fiume petitioned Empress Maria Teresa to have the city absorbed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a separate entity. In the event that Croatia should regain autonomy, Fiume would be free to seek its own destiny. In 1779, one year before her death, Maria Teresa granted Fiume the status of Corpus Separatum (separate body) within the Habsburg Empire, thus freeing Fiume from Croatia.
From 1809 to 1813, Fiume was occupied by Napoleonic troops. After the merger of the Austrian and Hungarian Monarchies, in 1867, Fiume became known as The Pearl in St. Stephen’s Crown, in honour of the patron saint of Hungary.
In 1869, the Englishman Robert Whitehead built the world’s first torpedo factory in Fiume. The establishment effectively made the city a prime target during hostilities.
Today, Rijeka is the principal port and the third-largest city of the Republic of Croatia.
Coincidentally, the location is directly in front of the apartment into which we were relocated in 1945. In July of that year we were ordered into the street to to cheer a triumphant Marshal Tito.
The amazing mlekarize who brought us milk during the war. One can still be seen in Rijeka. A sculpture modelled after a real person, milkmaid Antonija Reljac from the village of Podhum, stands in Mljekarski Square. She holds a petroleum lamp in her hand because she would set off on her journey towards Rijeka during the night.
The iconic lion of St.Mark in the Fiume harbour. "Of all the damage done to the city and the port facilities, to me the greatest act of sabotage was the destruction of the imposing monument of the winged Lion of St. Mark, standing guard at the entrance of the Molo Lungo (the long pier)."
Italian airmail stamp commemorating 10th anniversary of Fiume's annexation to Italy. Dated year twelve of Fascist era: 1934
Map from the 'Atlas of the New Europe' showing the Free State of Fiume. London, 1920.
Fiume's coat of arms is a double eagle representing the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The water flowing from the urn in its talons alludes to the river flowing through the city. The word 'Indeficienter' means 'unfailing'. Supporting the crest are the patron saints of the city, S.S. Vito and Modesto.
Crowds celebrating Fiume's annexation to Italy.
La Domenica del Corriere, Feb 10, 1924.
The Hotel Continental, December 1920. Linda and I stayed at the hotel in 1993.
The round church of S.S. Vito and Modesto, patron saints of the city. Construction began in 1638. It was completed one hundred years later.
Fiume's opera house, Teatro Verdi (now Theatre Ivan Zaic) opened in 1885. The three ceiling medallions were painted by Gustav Klimt.
HAND TINTED PHOTOGRAPH DATED 1912 - Fiume Austria.
Bomb damage to the port of Fiume - 1945
The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912.
The Cunard liner Carpathia, on her regular voyage from New York to Fiume, rescued more than 700 passengers of the Titanic, taking them to New York before resuming her voyage to Fiume.
Fiorello La Guardia, Mayor of New York City, 1934 -1945. Served as U.S. Consulate General in Fiume from 1903 to 1906. Fiume has a street bearing his name.
The Madonna of Tersatto
The world's first torpedo factory was built in Fiume. The Stabilimento Tecnico Fiumano was founded in 1875 by Englishman Robert Whitehead. My uncle Claudio was employed there in the early 40s.
The hilltop sanctuary of Tersatto
A vintage collection of Fiume postcards from 1905 to 1945 - This was our church while living at 17 Via Monte Grappa.
FIUME - THEN AND NOW.
A River of Oranges: Memories of a Displaced Childhood