Aren’t you bewitched with San Vincenti? It’s very easy to be so. Those streets, square, castle, churches…This small place with around 300 inhabitants is so magical that you just have to stop and look around. Maybe even have a coffee in peace, especially in mornings when you can feel this special atmosphere. No matter if it’s winter, spring, autumn or summer. San Vincenti is always in.
Maybe you didn’t know that this place hides a dark legend that of San Vincenti inhabitants aren’t very proud of. However, the legend became one of the town’s symbols. Right here a witch, or so they thought so, was burned. Her name was Mare Radolovich and she was burned in the middle of Morosini-Grimani castle in 1632.
Sealed A Deal With Devil
She was a herbalist and was convinced for sealing a deal with devil. People who she was helping until then sentenced her on death on a pile. Of course, behind this story there is a suspicion she was having an affair with one of the noble owners of the castle, which sealed her destiny. Her story is being screened for several years now as a part of popular medieval festival in San Vincenti that takes place in August as a part of Istria Inspirita, the cultural tourism project that revives Istrian legends and history through gastro shows.
Likewise, this legend, as well as San Vincenti’s history, is being revived through new Visitors center House of Mare the Witch situated in old Registrar’s Office. The experience of this place who had witnessed many weddings is now completely different. Now, it’s a dark room in which the old clock hands start to spin like crazy and on the wall in front of you suddenly appears a lady from middle age. She is being revived and speaks to me: „I am Mare the Witch“, she speaks and laughs a bit spooky like in some horror movie. I gives me creeps, but I stand there still and wait what’s next.
– Don’t worry, I won’t bewitch you. The only thing that you will be bewitched from is this picturesque medieval place San Vincenti, full of secrets from the past – this virtual witch starts to speak in new Visitors center in San Vincenti in central Istria.
Mare the Witch is a hologram guide that presents the history of this center Istrian town which in innovative way through modern technology – 3D mapping and virtual and augmented reality – revives local characters and takes visitors in cultural heritage tour.
A Game About The Unknown Knight
After Mare’s introduction, through interactive VR application I start a game about the unknown knight. I put virtual glasses on my head and shoot targets with bow and arrow in medieval castle Morosini-Grimani. Still, in a dark room I see him as he used to be. I hit all the targets, but then armored enemies start to chase me. They come from everywhere, from castle’s yard and walls. The fight lasts until I defend myself.
After I finished a part of virtual story in former Registrar’s Office, the game continues on San Vincenti streets. I put on the augmented reality glasses and walk towards center of this small place visiting the most important spots: St. Vincenti’s church at graveyard, St. Rok’s church, St. Kathrine’s church, loggia and renaissance square and then the castle as a highlight.
By walking through the town I find out everything important from history, but also legends that go along. I come in front of St. Cathrine’s church to meet medieval blacksmith. He coins me a sword. I take it, as well as I will later take a horse, an armor and a shield, all as a part of the story about medieval moments of life of this town.
At the end I come to the ancient castle, full of people. They go on with their own business, feeding hens, grooming horses, making carriages, firing fire…and here is my knight. The lost knight – another legend San Vincenti is famous for. Namely, in the past this place was hosting knight games similar to Sinj Alka, that was taking place at the St. John the Baptist day. In year 1713 among twenty-one competitors, victory was carried out by the unknown knight. He refused to receive the prize and rode out of San Vincenti. Thanks to victory, but also a secrecy, the story about modest knight is being kept until today. And here ends my virtual experience mixed with reality.
This is unique way how cultural heritage can be presented through modern technology, enabling visitors to travel through time and envisage life in Middle Ages through game, on special and innovative way. Glasses for AR are the first Microsoft’s glasses for mixed reality. It’s a computer with special version of Windows that serves displaying 3D hologram in space.
But that’s not all. With the help of VR and search for treasure one can visit local family farms and try and buy local products, all that by following the path 692 of Mare the Witch that goes through whole San Vincenti. The point of treasure search is to end up in one of the local taverns and get the typical Istrian meal out of local products together with a prize. In future, if possible, with e-bikes.
The path is a part of Dinaridi Trail. This educational trail networks five family farms and it’s 33,2 kilometers long. On the path the visitors encounter logical riddles which are placed inside the farms. By going through the trail and solving riddle, visitors „collect“ their meal grocery by grocery and at the same time get to know products from local farms: Wine, olive oil, sheep chees, lavender, donkey milk. The trail can be passed with bikes, by foot, with quads or with horses.
It is combined with asphalt and macadam, out of which there is 14.4 kilometers of asphalt road and 18.8 kilometers of macadam road. Its length depends on the choice of way of passing it. The trail is in category of easy trails and its suitable for all age groups of visitors. It will be marked on web site Istria bike paths, as well as it will be put in their brochure. Descriptive information will be translated in English, German and Italian.
On each of networked family farms there is an info table with trail map with marked family farms and information about the farm you are visiting at the moment. On this way visitors can get information about scope of activities of specific farm, as well as basic information through pictures about each networked farm. Tables are bilingual, written in Croatian and English so information is adjusted for both Croatian and foreign tourists.
In visitors center visitors get a brochure with a map containing inscribed educational path with family farms one should visit in order to “collect the foodstuff”. From San Vincenti visitor starts moving in a direction of Foli where the first family farm Živolić, whose business is production of vine, is situated. “Medežija vina” is a project run by Dalibor Živolić and Edi Bilić which started in 2015 when the first 1000 bottles of white Morosini, autochthonous malvasia sort, and red Morosini, autochthonous terran sort, were produced. The goal is to present home-made wine from San Vincenti municipality and thus promote long-lasting tradition of growing grapevine and making wine in these areas.
Under the info board there is a logical riddle labyrinth for visitors to solve independently or through team work. When a visitor solves a riddle, family farm host perforates a card that visitors get at the start of a game, after which he can pass to another spot and its riddle. Card perforation means that a visitor has successfully “collected” foodstuff which is a part of a recipe.
After that visitors go towards another family farm, Ranch Toni owned by Dragica Lenić from Štokovci. Dragica’s family farm exists since 2008. She breeds domestic animals, including 15 Istrian donkeys, five horses of different breed, pigs, cows, hens. Her goal is to protect home made products, but also a donkey milk who’s benefits for human health are well known. On Ranch Toni visitors have to solve a game of guessing and once they finish it, they move toward next family farm.
Istrian breed “pramenka”
Family park Macan is situated on Stancija Čipuli and for many years nourishes tradition of sheep breed, that is of autochthonous Istrian breed “pramenka” whose milk is used in small dairy “Istarski cvijet” for production of sheep curd and delicious Istrian cheese. Basic product is being combined with truffles, so they offer cheese with truffles. On Macan Family farm one has to solve a logical game including beam scale and solution is closely connected with family farm’s activities.
The forth family farm on Dinneridi path is family farm Pekica, situated in village Pekica, specialized for lavender and lavender products. On their fields more than 36.000 lavender seedlings were planted – three hectares of lavender “Grosso”, a hectare of lavender “Budrovka” and the rest are different sorts, out of which one is eatable. The family farm offers different lavender products and their logical game is tangram.
Medieval Thematic Park
After solving a tangram, visitors head towards final spot of a path, thematic park St. Michael owned by family Otočan. The park is situated in Raponji. This wooden castle completely revives middle age through exhibition of replicates of medieval weapons and thematic arranged rooms. The castle holds a souvenir store, but also a small zoo garden with domestic animals. Besides that, family Otočan produces excellent olive oil. When visitors solve final riddle within the family farm, they give their perforated card to the farm’s owner.
In case a visitor managed to solve all five riddles from all five family farms, it means he/she collected all the groceries needed for preparation of traditional Istrian meal which is being prepared in St. Michael castle of the last family farm.
This project enabled bike and footpath 33,2 km long which connects locations of family farms involved in the project. Bicycle path is arranged with signalization using “Dinneridi Trail” logo in order to differ from other paths in this area. On the entrances of each family farm there are info and educational tables about products they offer, and on each table there is a route map marking each family farm involved in the project.