Pietro Stancovich
Prominent Istrians


ietro Mateo Stancovich (Petar Matija Stanković) was born on February 22 (or 14?), 1771 in Barban (Barbana), and baptized two days later.

canon, archeologist, historian and writer

born in Barban

His mother was Notburga Martinich from Gračišće (Gallignana) and his father was Antonio Stancovich from a wealthy Istrian family of Slavic origins that had moved from Svetvinčenat (Sanvincenti) to Barban around 1720.

He received his basic education in Rovinj (Rovigno), at that time the most populated city in Southern Istria. He then became a seminary student in Udine where, besides his studies in religion and Latin, he demonstrated an interest in history, philosophy, biology and mechanical engineering that would later be reflected in his writings.

After completing his seminary studies in 1792, he enrolled at the University of Padua (Padova) where he studied under father Antonino Valsecchi and Giorgio Maria Albertini from Poreč (Parenzo). Apart from theology, his other academic interests were law, mathematics and natural sciences. During that time he also made his first literary attempts.

Graduating in 1795, he returned to his native Barban, was ordained as a priest by Giovanni Domenico Juras (1778-1803), the last bishop of Pula before the diocese was combined with that of Poreč in 1830. Historic records also show that Stancovich was the organist at the collegiate Church of St. Nicholas in Barban. Upon the death of the rector of the parish In 1797, Stancovich succeeded him, a position that he held for over a decade, after which time, at the wishes of his parishioners and church authorities, the notable young priest was promoted to canon at the same church.

Stancovich initiated his writings in 1818 with the historic novella Neofaste in Astiri, then he wrote on themes of archeology, agriculture, language, and religion, as well as poetry. His life's works consists of about 50 small and large literary works, almost exclusively in the Italian language out of which half their number were published, some remained as manuscripts, and some were unfortunately lost. Only one of his writings in the Croatian was published. [See below and also  Bruno Dobrić, "I testi croati nei manoscritti di Stancovich", in Jurina i Franina, Rivista di varia cultura istriana / n. 54 / autunno 1993, p. 52-55.]


Birth home of Pietro Stancovich in Barban.

He liked to travel and made many friends starting with his school days and in later years in the fields of religion and science.

He participated in scientific assemblies, art academies, establishmenst and societies, and he kept in touch with many important people especially those from the intellectual circles, including Gian Rinaldo Carli and Girolamo Gravisi and others. This is reflected in many of the letters that are today preserved in several libraries and conservatories of both the letters that he wrote and received, all of which uncover snippets of Stancovich’s life and work and, at the same time, indicate the many important people in intellectual circles with whom he was exchanging thoughts and experiences.

During his extensive trips to Italy, and in his residence in Rome for religious instruction after becoming a canon, Stancovich became an associate in various academies and organizations - for example, he was a member of the scientific congresses of Turin, Florence and Padua - and was a member of the Atenei of Brescia and Treviso. He also collected manuscripts, books, certificates, coins and medallions, consulted in as many works as were made available to him from which he was able to compose his Biografia degli uomini illustri dell'Istria 1828-29, published in Trieste, with a second edition by Priora, 1888.
Stancovich's portrait in the frontispiece of his Biografie degli uomini illustri.

This 3-volume work is his major achievement and gained him the nickname “the Istrian Plutarch”. It contains 489 biographies divided into 6 chapters. The volumes contain the history and culture of Istria from the Roman period through the 18th century. The biographies are subdivided into groups of saints, bishops, literaries, militaries, etc.

Antonio Angelini, who wrote about Stancovich in his chronicles is himself included among Stancovich's 489 biographies in his Biografie degli uomini illustri dell'Istria 1828-29, Chapter 4, as follows:

251. ANGELINI Antonio da Rovigno, ameno cultore delle muse, e dotto giureconsulto, univa all'integrità della vita la pietà religiosa,  ed in patria godeva una riputazione onorevole e generale, avendo sostenuto peranco delle magistrature. Vi esiste di esso una doviziosa collezione ms. di cose patrie, che pregio dell'opera sarebbe ridurla a regolarità, e renderla di pubblico diritto. Varie composizioni poetiche esso pubblicò volanti, od inserite in raccolte del momento, e colle stampe del Manuzzi in Venezia nel 1780 una canzone spirituale intitolata Verbum caro, corredata di annotazioni, la quale si canta piamente da quel popolo anche al giorno d'oggi, e se ne rammenta la memoria dell'autore, che in patria termino i suoi giorni nel 1808. See also.

In the book Trieste non fu villaggio Carnico, ma luogo dell’Istria (1830), which started a correspondence with Dalmatian priests who were representatives of the so-called Illyrian theory about the origin of the South Slavs, he also worked on the relationship of Illyrians and their language and the newly immigrated Slavic population, denying them any nationality connection and linguistic relationship.

In the scientific community he was renown as a debater. With this study he started a sharp debate for several years with Dalmatian priests about the position of Stridon, which he was looking for in Istrian town of Zrenje, stirring controversy about the birth place of St. Jerome in his Della Patria di S. Girolamo dottore di Santa Chiesa e della lingua slava relativa allo stesso (1824).

Stancovich was materialistic and a well-to-do land-owner. He published some works dealing with inventions in agriculture, including L'aratro seminatore ossia metodo di piantare il grano arando: Memoria di P. S., Venezia, Pel Picotti Stampatore Editore (1820), followed in 1824 by a second on the same theme, Il formento seminato senza aratura, senza zappatura, senza letame, as well as Nuovo metodo economico-pratico di fare e conservare il vino in 1825.

His other agrarian works include Spolpoliva e macinocciolo ossia molino oleario con cui contemporaneamente si separa la carne del nocciolo e si riduce in farina il nocciolo stesso originale invenzione del Canonico P. S. del castello di Barbana, alle foci dell'Arsa... (1840), then came the detailed description of two machines for handling olives – Spolpoliva (1840) and Toredioliva (1841) that gave him international fame.

The book Torchioliva was intended as an appendix to another book called Spolpoliva that discussed another invention by Stancovich. This work was presented in 1841 at the Agriculture and Technology section of the Congress of Italian Scientists that was held in Florence.







Stancovich's most memorable works, however, are those that deal with the making of wine.

Records on Istrian Viniculture from the 19th century

Since the 18th century, authors have appeared in different parts of Europe who in their writings, scientific as well as popular, have searched for the improvement of farming methods. Following this tradition, works on viniculture and on wine production appeared in Istria in the 19th century, the authors being Pietro Predonzani (1820) from Poreč (Parenzo), Pietro Stancovich (1825) from Barban (Barbana), Nicoló Del Bello (1876) from Koper (Capodistria) and Carlo Hugues (different papers about 1890), the director of the "Experimental Wine and Fruit Growing Station" in Poreč (Parenzo).

In his writings, Predonzani appealed to wine growers to give up old methods of wine growing, which in his opinion are burdened with prejudice. His instructions, however, were very general and incomplete.

In contrast, Pietro Stancovich, always an attentive reader of the most up-to-date publications of his time, experimented with new methods of wine growing and researched the results of these scientifically. Del Bello was accurate and clear, but his contribution, the greatest part of it being about the hinterland of Piran (Pirano), was mostly of a descriptive character. Hughes on the other hand, with the century coming slowly to its end, already advocated for the decisively modern vision: his attitude was pragmatic and strictly scientific. Anyway, all the authors looked critically on numerous traditional methods of wine growing and encouraged the native wine growers to pay more attention to the quality of their product.

stanvino.jpg (135301 byte) Vino dell'Istria principale prodotto di questa provincia. Nuovo metodo economico-pratico per farlo e conservarlo, Milan, Giovanni Silvestri, shown to be published in 1853, but see note below. This work is divided into six parts:

  1. Praeliminare (descrizione geografica e approfondita spiegazione dei vini della regione);
  2. Della pigiatura delle uve;
  3. Dell’economia delle botti;
  4. Della fermentazione vinosa;
  5. Del travaso dei vini;
  6. Di un Elattenometro, o conservatore del vino.

In the first chapter he discusses the history of Istrian wine in antiquity and the various types of wine produced in the region. In the second chapter Stancovich describes a wine press of his own invention as well as other methods of pressing wine. In the third chapter is described a barrel of his own design and methods of preserving wine. The final chapters cover fermentation, bottling, and how to stabilize wines and prevent oxidation. The engraved plates depict various wine-making apparatus of Stancovich's invention.

Note: Regarding the date of the edition, some bibliographers simply list this edition as 1853, as stated on the title page (see Paleari-Henssler & B.IN.G.). However, while others (see Westbury), conjecture that the date is more likely to be 1825 and that the title page date is misprinted. Suffice it to say that the edition has an advertisement page from 1825 for Silvestri for the book by G. Acerbi, Delle Viti italiane (cfr. contra Pazzini, p. 203 that puts that the first edidtion at 1825 and the second edition at 1853) would seem to support Westbury's claim. Also, the dedication page of brother Pietro Martino is signed "Istria, Barbana, 20 July 1825". In either case, an extremely rare copy of an 1861 reprint of this book was offered for sale at US $1,000!

On the theologian side, apart from his book on St. Jerome, Stancovich published only on text in the Croatian language, Kratak nauk karstianski (Piccola dottrina cristiana; Short Christian Doctrines) in Trieste in 1828, and it was intended for the local priests and church goers of the Barban

In the introduction of this little book he wrote that when he held mass he noticed that a large number of the people of his birthplace had a poor knowledge of matters of religion because of the unavailability of literature and an uneven religious education within the congregation. His attempt to correct this problem was by writing the “Nauka” (Teachings) for a basic Catholic education. He also wanted to be short and concise and clear so that the material would be easily transferred from the priests to the congregation, and be easily understandable and remembered by young and old alike. To achieve this he divided the selected religious materials into seven chapters to allow students to cover the instructions in stages. [See the divisions of this catechism in his Selected works.]

Can. Pietro Stancovich passed away in Barban on September 12, 1852 and was buried in the local cemetery of Holy Cross [Santa Croce; sv. Kriz]. In 2002 came the restoration of his tomb, an obelisk with epigraphs, done via the intervention of IRCI (Istituto Regionale per la Cultura Istriana) in Trieste that, in collaboration with the municipality of Barban, was able to realize a monument adjacent to the same cemetery.

In his will, Stancovich left his copious library and collectibles to the city of Rovinj, among which are approximately 500 pieces of immeasurable value. In 1853 these were transferred from Barban to Rovinj where they remained unseen for three years until the the public library was opened, according to Antonio Angelini's chronicles of that period. The majority of his handwritten works can be found in the University library in Pula.

See: Selected works

Stancoviciana Library

In April 2002, the museum of the city of Rovinj presented an exhibit of great historical value containing books printed in the 16th century in many European cities, in the publishing houses of Lyone, Venice, Basel, Hapsburg and Paris. Starting with the 2,869 books that were donated by Pietro Stancovich, the "Stancoviciana" library that bears the name of its initial donor, "Stancoviciana", has expanded over time and now contains at least 7,000 books.

The library contains books on various themes that run the spectrum from philosophy to legislation to architecture and many other themes. The oldest holding is De evangelica praeparatione that was published in 1501.

See also:


  • Croatian text - "Mala Enciklopedija Velikih Istrana", Jurina i Franina Kalendar, 1984
  • Croatian text - Mislav Elvis Luksić, Iz Knjge ISTARSKA DANICA (1999). Iz Knjge ISTARSKA DANICA - 1999
  • Italian text - Bernardo Benussi, L'Istria nei suoi due milleni di storia, Collana degli Atti, Centro di Ricerche Storiche - Rovigno, N. 14 (Venezia - Rovigno, 1997), p. 20
  • Images - http://destinacije.com (left) and http://www.istriadalmazia.it/scoprire/paesi/barbana/Barbana_2006/pages/Barbana_21.htm (right)
  • Catalog listing - http://www.comune.empoli.fi.it/biblioteca/fondi/antico/tassinari_buste2.htm
  • English text - Annales 10, Roberto STAREC, BA, The Faculty of Education, 34100 Trieste, Via Tigor 22, Italy - http://www.zrs-kp.si/Zaloznistvo/povzetki/annales_10.htm
  • Book & text - http://www.lecantine.it/uk_enobib_olio_torchioliva_01.htm & http://www.lecantine.it/ita_enobib_olio_torchioliva_02.htm
  • Antonio Angelini fu Avv. Stefano 1798-1863 - http://www.libri-antichi.com/scriptorium/italia6a.htm and http://www.libri-antichi.com/scriptorium/italia6a.htm
  • http://www.arengario.it/archivio/architet/archanti2.htm
  • http://www.biblioteche.regione.lombardia.it/regsrc/pdf/LO113_4T03.pdf#search=%22Pietro%20Stancovich%22
  • www.corderobooks.com/catalogo2.doc
  • http://www.arengario.it/archivio/gastrono/enologia/enolog09.htm
  • http://search.abaa.org/dbp2/book105636360.html
  • www.corderobooks.com/georgica1.rtf
  • http://www.tzgrovinj.hr/itl/dogadjaji/stancoviciana/index.asp
  • Istarska enciklopedija, Leksikografski Zavod Miroslav Krleža (Zagreb, 2005)

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