casa bosniaca

“In 150 houses surrounded with nature, near Prijedor, an Italian community has been living for over a century. They all have Italian passports in Stivor, they learn Italian in schools, they read Italian newspapers and they live on Italian pensions.”

The website “Ecotourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina” seemingly promotes Bosnia. The writer of the article calls this place a ‘hidden valley’ in Bosnia.

It’s a tad not exact though, since what today is Bosnia and Herzegovina has been split to contain the ‘Federation’and an entity called Republika Srpska. And this pretty little place with the adorable Italians is in Republika Srpska which was carved out of a mutilated post genocide Bosnia and given to the aggressors. That Republika Srpska is not named in this article is evidence enough that the RS has a huge image problem, even more so than neighboring Bosnia proper.

The article continues:”Before the war, Prijedor was known as a place with the highest percentage of ethnic minorities. Today, these numbers would be difficult to reach, since the great deal of its inhabitants had moved away during the war. The surprising thing is that those Italians who remained here are still true to their own culture and traditions.”

The polemic in me wants to write about the absurdity of promoting ethno tourism in a place that turbo fucked it’s whole Muslim and Croat population during the war and is proud of its actions. But, because I understand that in order to heal, people must get past differences and focus on similarities. And I also understand, that in the bleak economic terrain that is Bosnia, tourist money is gold. And so I will shut up.

So, let me start again.

As I am a big fan of Italy and it’s culture and always intrigued with all things Bosnian because of my heritage, I would like to share an article I found curious and interesting. A group of ethnic Italians live in Stivor which is located in a beautiful part of what used to be called Bosnia, and now located in the Republika Srpska.

Further reading unveils that the people of this town have lived in Stivor for over a century, which brings me to why I am posting about it. My family too, moved to Ottoman Bosnia in the early 1800’s while the Hapsburgs were expanding their empire, eventually becoming the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My great-great grandfather was a dei Grotti from one of the regions in soon to be Italy. There are similarities between my family history and the Stivor Italians. A pleasant discovery. An interesting piece in the  beautiful puzzle that is Bosnia. Maybe one day I will go for a visit.