All About Ancestry

September 22, 2015:  We woke up to a gorgeous day in the town of Hvar. Actually the church bells from three different ancient cathedrals woke us up.  We thought at first there was a fire because the bells rang six times, and then kept going with no meaning to the LONG number of chimes. Good thing we had planned an early start so we could climb up to the fortress while it was still cool. But first, we were treated to a fabulous European breakfast featuring the local form of prosciutto (pršut) and farm cheese and local eggs with yolks the color of tangerines. Mark and Jim had obviously planned their outfits, because they were dressed like the Bobbsey twins, down to their matching Puma brand short socks!

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So we set off for the summit of the fort.  The island of Hvar is fairly densely forested with cedar trees and the occasional cypress, with lavender growing everywhere. The smell is just heavenly!  The ancient fortress in its current configuration was built in medieval times and looks like a fairy-book castle. But the original castle was built in Roman times, and everywhere you walk in town, there are these polished white stones as walkways which can just radiate the heat and a sense of history past.  From the top of the fortress, you could see the various harbors and inlets around the town of Hvar, as well as the many close-by islands. As you can see from the pictures, the sea is the color of deep blue fire opals, and so clear, you can see small rocks on the bottom in over 20 feet of water. You can also see lots of farmland, as the island of Hvar is rich in its agricultural bounty.

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After our climb, we set off for the records office of the Catholic church parishes of the island to search for the records of Mark’s dad’s birth. Eureka!  Mark & Kathy were ecstatic to find that the actual books of baptismal records for St. Stephen’s church were in the office, and they got to see the page holding the record of Mitchell Costanti’s birth and baptism in 1912.  The clerk made them a translated record and Mark learned that his Dad’s real birthdate was in May; not March of that year, and that his name was originally spelled Michele. Wow!  We celebrated with a beer on the plaza overlooking the harbor, and then walked along the riva (seaside promenade) to yet another harbor ringing the port of Hvar town.  Then Jim and Mark set off to find a wine bar, and Kathy and I indulged in a little shopping in the cute old town.

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We had a great dinner at the restaurant at the Hotel Nora (called Lucullus) where I dined on local cuisine featuring wild boar and lavender gnocchi. We all agreed this is definitely a spot you could come back to spend two weeks by the seaside!

3 thoughts on “All About Ancestry”

  1. Interesting post. My maternal grandparents, Margarite Rosetti and Mato Soljan, were also born in Starigrad in 1906 and 1898 respectively. I know my grandfather was christened at St. Stephen’s. His father was supposedly the bell ringer for the church and his brother may have been a priest there at one time. I visitedin 2008, but I had not done much genealogical research at that time. My husband and I plan to return in September and do more research. I was excited to see the office had records (and someone to help) as I have not had much luck finding anything on Family Search and Ancestry. Was the office you went to located in Starigrad, Hvar Town, or elsewhere? Do you have an address or contact info? Thanks in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide. Cathy Willis

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    1. Hi, Cathy!

      The church office was in Hvar town (right off the marina; anyone could tell you where to find it. We didn’t have an appointment beforehand, but they helped us while we waited. One tip for you; our friends originally talked to a young woman in the office, and she didn’t seem to know anything. It wasn’t until an older woman walked into the front office that we got someone who knew where the records were. Ironically, they we in a huge armoire right in the front office in huge books, but apparently, the young people had never had a need to open the cabinet.

      Good luck in your search!

      All best,
      Stacy

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