A different kind of tourist attraction

Published in Highlights

On Tuesday 16th July, the Ultra festival descended on Hvar, whose long-suffering citizens braced themselves for the event.

Further east on the island there was unfolding a very different kind of attraction for visitors, which could show the way towards safeguarding peaceful tourism on the island. A Catholic Mass celebrated in the Polish language is probably the antithesis of the drug-and-alcohol-fuelled riotous antics of a large number of Hvar's party tourists, known locally as 'partijaneri'. Hvar Town's more moderate citizens have long been battling against the summer influx of uninhibited revellers, citing unacceptable mess and noise and indecent dress and behaviour among their complaints. The Ultra Europe event held in the 'Park Mladeži' in Split over three days and nights from the 14th of July 2019 was, by some accounts, a success with very few adverse incidents, welcomed and praised by politicians and tourist directors. However, another side to the picture also received attention in the Croatian press: public places blighted by drug- or alcohol-fuelled licentious behaviour, urination and defecation even before the Festival had begun (Slobodna Dalmacija, 12.07.2019.); horrendous mess after Ultra's first day in Split (IndexHR, 13.07.2019); and the drugs which were, it seemed, the partygoers' mainstay during the Split leg of the Festival (Slobodna Dalmacija 15.07.2019.). The event certainly draws in large numbers of visitors (Slobodna Dalmacija 13.07.2019.), but how much (if any) benefit it brings to a city whose centre is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List is debatable.

Don Robert conducted Sara Pirč's wedding to Roman Radonić in October 2018. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Dalmatian tourism has traditionally been based on warm hospitality and long-term friendships nurtured between private renters and their guests. The difficulties created by the 1991-95 Homeland War caused a break in these relationships. While some regular visitors came back after the war, many didn't. Many changes have taken place since then, and Dalmatian tourism has of necessity developed in different directions, including offering large-scale music festivals aimed at young adults. Dalmatia has an incredibly wide range of tourist attractions, and depends on tourism for its economic wellbeing. It is perhaps surprising how little is advertised specifically for foreign guests. So a Mass in Polish is a great departure, and very welcome.

Don Robert blessing the Pitve graveyard, All Saints 2018. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

It is the inspired brainchild of Don Robert Bartoszek, who is conducting the Mass every Sunday throughout July and August in the Vrisnik Parish Church, at 12:15. All credit to him, as he and his colleagues are under tremendous pressures of work, due to an acute shortage of priests on the island because of relocation, illness and retirement. Don Robert was brought in to be parish priest for Vrisnik and Pitve last year, and quickly settled in, gaining an admiring appreciation from his parishioners for his ability to fit into local customs. He has also introduced some charming customs from his home country to Hvar, most notably the distribution of small gifts from the 'Easter bunny' to the local children after the Easter Sunday Mass.

Don Robert and Roman Radonić with the Pasqual Candle, April 2019. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Don Robert's duties have recently been expanded, so his dedication is all the more admirable. The Polish residents and visitors on Hvar have responded enthusiastically, with some 54 of them attending their first special Mass, over 100 a couple of weeks later, then some 150, so many they couldn't all fit into the church! It is probably not surprising, as Poland is a very Catholic country, also a very close-knit community, and Don Robert has been unstinting in his pastoral care for those of his compatriots in need of help.

Distributing gifts to the children, Easter Sunday 2019. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

So, quietly and discreetly, a small but invaluable new element has been added to Hvar's tourist attractions, one which shows a special kind of care and consideration towards a group of the island's guests. Don Robert's appointment on Hvar was supposed to be temporary, lasting for just one year. Let's hope his stay is extended, and equally that his initiative in providing spiritual support for his fellow-Poles becomes a lasting tradition - and maybe 'tourist Masses' in other languages might just come into being?

Eye-catching, fully informative posters were distributed by Don Robert personally

© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) July 2019.

Related items

You are here: Home highlights A different kind of tourist attraction

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Exclusive: major supplier to brands including KFC and Nando’s used offshore companies allowing them to reduce UK tax payments, investigation suggests

    The global megacompanies supplying some of Britain’s most popular meat brands, including KFC, Nando’s chicken and Sainsbury’s organic range, appear to have been using offshore companies that allow them to avoid paying millions of pounds in tax in the UK.

    An investigation by the Guardian and Lighthouse Reports has found that two companies – Anglo Beef Processors UK and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (owned by Brazilian beef giant JBS) – appear to have reduced their tax bill by structuring their companies and loans in a way that allows them to take advantage of different tax systems, in what one expert has described as “aggressive tax avoidance”.

    Continue reading...

  • Nature protection rules in proposed investment zones would in effect be suspended

    There was little room for doubt about the reaction to the prime minister’s plans to scrap environmental regulations this weekend. “Make no mistake, we are angry. This government has today launched an attack on nature,” tweeted the RSPB, its most forceful political intervention in recent memory.

    Liz Truss’s proposals to create investment zones, where green rules on nature protection would in effect be suspended, represented a step too far for some of Britain’s biggest environment charities. “As of today, from Cornwall to Cumbria, Norfolk to Nottingham, wildlife is facing one of the greatest threats it’s faced in decades,” the RSPB went on.

    Continue reading...

  • Prominent members of farmers’ union express dismay after comments by Minette Batters

    Farmers are threatening to quit the National Farmers’ Union after its leader said she supported the UK government’s apparent move to scrap post-Brexit nature subsidies.

    This weekend, the Observer revealed that the government was poised to abandon the “Brexit bonus”, which would have paid farmers and landowners to enhance nature, in what wildlife groups have described as an “all-out attack” on the environment.

    Continue reading...

  • Stars of film about 500-mile trek to Scotland for Cop26 hit the road again for Bristol premiere

    There will be no red carpet, no designer outfits and definitely no limousines. In fact, the stars of the film have shunned any sort of mechanical transport and instead walked 135 miles from London to Bristol for the premiere, and are asking their audience to accompany them by foot on their last leg before the screening.

    The film, which is being premiered on the harbourside in Bristol on Tuesday evening, is Of Walking on Thin Ice (Camino to Cop26), which tells the story of a group of climate pilgrims who hiked 500 miles from the south of England to Scotland for last year’s climate conference in Glasgow.

    For more details and tickets visit the Encounters film festival website.

    Continue reading...

  • Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire:It feels like sitting in a crypt – I am surrounded by the skeletons of dried perennials

    I try not to make excuses so I’m just going to tell the truth: everything in my garden is dead. The drought was fierce and I was sick, distracted. I couldn’t bear to look at it but I’m trying to look now.

    It feels like sitting in a crypt. I’ve pulled up a damp chair and I am surrounded by skeletons, the limbs of my perennials dried, bent and snapped. The hydrangea’s flowers have turned to ghostly brown lace too soon, drooping leaves turned almost black like prayer flags. There is copper, rust and blood; piles of viburnum leaves dropped early in fright. The penstemon looks as if it has been set alight then frozen, its orange flames still and hellish. When the rains finally came, too late, the parched snails came out of hiding and ate everything that was left. Talk about overkill.

    Continue reading...

  • Movement aims to make the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems a prosecutable, international crime against peace

    California winemaker Julia Jackson has long grasped the threats posed by the ongoing global climate change crisis, from more intense wildfires and hurricanes to rising sea levels. But for her, those ideas crossed over from the abstract to the tangible when her home was razed by the Kincade wildfire that devastated her native Sonoma county in 2019.

    “I lost everything – all my belongings,” Jackson said. “It shook me to my core.”

    Continue reading...

  • The deaths within days of 11 sturgeon, a species unchanged for thousands of years, have puzzled scientists

    When the first spindly, armour-clad carcass was spotted in the fast-flowing Nechako River in early September, Nikolaus Gantner and two colleagues scrambled out on a jet boat, braving strong currents to investigate the grim discovery.

    Days later, the remains of 10 others were spotted floating along a 100km stretch of the river in western Canada.

    Continue reading...

  • Defra accused of ‘all-out attack’ on environment by wildlife groups

    The government is to scrap the “Brexit bonus” which would have paid farmers and landowners to enhance nature, in what wildlife groups are calling an “all-out attack” on the environment, the Observer can reveal.

    Instead, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) sources disclosed, they are considering paying landowners a yearly set sum for each acre of land they own, which would be similar to the much-maligned EU basic payments scheme of the common agricultural policy.

    Continue reading...

  • Super Typhoon Noru tore its way out of the northern Philippines on Monday, leaving casualties, floods and power outages. Government work and classes at schools have been suspended in the capital and beyond

    Continue reading...

  • David Malpass apologises after saying he ‘doesn’t know’ if he accepts climate science

    David Malpass, president of the World Bank, faces an uncertain future this week, after the White House joined a chorus of influential figures in condemning his apparent climate denialism.

    Malpass remains in post for now but under severe pressure, despite issuing an apology and trying to explain his refusal last week to publicly acknowledge the human role in the climate crisis.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds