“Bòne da bàti màr!” is a saying in Rovinj dialect that means “Good enough to defeat the sea!” and describes boats that can face the challenges of the open sea. Rovinj’s batana is just such a traditional fishing boat, small to the eye, but of great significance for Rovinj and its inhabitants. It is the soul of Rovinj, weaved from nets and ropes, from the sound of the oars and fishermen’s songs, the so-called bitinàda, that the waves had blown across the Rovinj seas for decades. Always busy, the Rovinj fishermen even learned to imitate musical instruments, and the most beautiful voices among them were singing opera arias!

The story of the batana was told in many ways: while rowing in batana around the Rovinj peninsula, having dinners in the traditional tavern Spacio Matika where fishermen used to drop by for lunch, or repairing and building new batanas in Mali škver (Little Shipyard), joining the Regatta that colors Rovinj sea and sky every June with a patchwork of sails of traditional boats. Yet another way to tell the story of batana is a course in Mediterranean cuisine – in the kitchen with the most beautiful view the guardian of Rovinj’s gastronomical heritage, Sergio Ferrara, reveals all the beauty and charm of the Mediterranean diet and way of life.

And where does the story begin? In the center of Rovinj, in the Batana Eco-museum where local people have stored objects and memories from their homes and hearts to share them with the world and, thus, preserve the most valuable part of their intangible heritage. Their gesture was recognized by UNESCO by listing the Batana Eco-museum in the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices for the preservation of intangible heritage. It is a confirmation that the story of batana is the best interpretation project in Croatia.

The Association and the Batana Eco-museum are partners in two Interreg projects – Culturecovery, a project that brings together eight European countries whose aim is to develop new approaches to the innovative preservation, reconstruction and promotion of intangible cultural heritage. A cross-border area project Mala Barka 2 is aimed at preserving the maritime heritage of the North Adriatic.

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Photo: Damir Fabijanić i Zorica Bocić