29 April 2023 – Occasional TCN contributor Albert Anthony on Arbanasi, an idyllic slice of Zadar and meeting point of two presidents this week.
ZADAR – Though many people may know of Zadar because of its sea organs & salute to the sun, they may not yet have stumbled upon some of its quaint, hidden neighborhoods such as Arbanasi, a world of its own by the sea.
Croatian-American tech & business columnist Albert Anthony writes to TCN this week after attending the official state visit to this small, quiet neighborhood on April 28 by both the presidents of Croatia and Albania, two countries that have been strategic partners in many segments.
” The two presidents talked about historical & cultural topics relevant to this coastal region, particularly around the theme of how many residents of Arbanasi can trace their heritage to a migration from Albania to Zadar that occurred during the Venetian era of the 1700s. As someone whose mother & several relatives went to grammar school in this neighborhood, it is certainly one of cultural & historical value but also has a personal connection to me. Because the local grammar school overlooks the sea, I imagine it was a childhood similar to growing up in those small seaside towns in America or the UK,” Albert Anthony writes.
Increased Attention on the Coastal Region.
This month is a busy one for Zadar. Besides two presidential visits in one day, recently was the opening of the World Sports Tourism Congress last week, and next week is the Adriatic Sea Defense & Aerospace Exhibition (ASDA), which was in Split last time.
“In my opinion, Croatia’s coastal region is becoming of strategic importance in terms of trade & culture, and could be one of Europe’s key strategic regions. As we see, it is not just beaches & good seafood, but also a center for large-scale business events and diplomatic visits,” he continued.
Small Coastal Neighborhood, Global Impact.
Many locals in Croatia and those in the diaspora are familiar with several singers with roots in the Arbanasi neighborhood, including Đani Maršan, Tomislav Ivčić, and Mladen Grdović, to name a few, whose concerts reached as far as the US and Australia as far back as the 1980s. But it also is the neighborhood where sports greats from the golden era of basketball and soccer call home, including Giussepe Pino Giergia and Josip Bepo Bajlo.
“Only a forty minute walk from the old town center, hugging the coast, you can reach this hidden neighborhood, take a sea dip, sit in a local cafe overlooking the Adriatic, or peruse the narrow streets that seem like they are from a time long ago, and yet you are still in a city and region that is more modern by the day. To really know the Croatian coast, you ought to know its many neighborhoods and their contribution to the history, culture, & economy of the region,” Albert Anthony reiterates.