Among the prominent figures from the area are the twin brothers Ivan and Matko (Mate) Baštijan. They were born in Gornji Jugi on 3 September 1828. After finishing the elementary school in Kastav, they attended the Riječka Gimnazija high school in Rijeka and then studied for a further two years in Zagreb, after which they attended seminaries in Gorica and Trieste, being ordained in 1852. After a short period of service in Istria, they permanently moved to Trieste, where they worked as catechists. Marko died in 1885 and Ivan in 1886, and they are both buried at St. Anna’s Cemetery in Trieste.
Both brothers were active participants in the National Revival movement in Istria. It is presumed that they learned about the Croatian National Revival in 1848 while at school in Zagreb. It is particularly interesting to note that they spent their entire lives together, both in work and privately. They also constantly provided help and encouragement to each other in their educational, cultural, artistic and political work.
Matko Baštijan was one of the founders of the Naša Sloga newspaper in 1870, which played an important role in the Istrian National Revival. Even though he was never officially chief editor, historians agree that he was the driving force behind this newspaper and also the author of numerous articles, national songs (budnice) and commentaries. He was also the author of the famous dialogues between two fictional characters from Istria (Jurina and Franina) written in the Chakavian dialect of the Kastav region. However, Matko was primarily a poet and writer, although his work is less known and rather neglected. His first poem was published in the Neven magazine and the majority of his other poems in Naša Sloga. He mostly wrote national poems, which needed to be simple, fluid and understandable for people. His great talent can be seen in some of his elegies, although only fragments of some of his works, such as the play The Last Captain of Kastav, have been preserved.
Ivan focused primarily on painting. He was a self-taught but very respectable art connoisseur who procured and evaluated paintings for Bishop Strossmayer. He even asked the bishop for an art college scholarship in Rome but did not get it. Only a few of his paintings are known today. The most important one is the painting of St. Matthew in the church in Viškovo. He also painted St. Nicholas in Kukuljanovo, St. Anna in Volosko, St. Anthony in Hum, St. Luke in Rukavac and St. Sebastian in Kastav, as well as the pilgrimage flag which people from Kastav carried on their processions to Trsat for many years. This flag, emblazoned with the image of St. Helen and Our Lady of Trsat, has unfortunately been lost. Ivan also reputedly painted a portrait of Bishop Strossmayer. It is interesting that he also drew the characters created by his brother – Jurina and Franina – for the Naša Sloga newspaper.
In 1930, a large ceremony was organised in their birth house to commemorate the centenary of their births. A memorial plaque made by Milan Brozović was placed on the house on this occasion. The Municipality of Viškovo renovated the plaque in 2009 at the initiative of the Matica hrvatska institution.
Composer and folklorist Ivan Matetić Ronjgov was born on 10 April 1880 in the village of Ronjgi. He acquired his musical education at the Academy of Music in Zagreb. He researched and transcribed Istrian melodies and helped interpret the Istrian scale. Thanks to him, folk music from Istria and the Kvarner regions has been included in the tonal system of artistic music. He was the first to define the Istrian scale and explain the semitone intervals that are the basis of this folk music, which became part of the Croatian tradition in the Kvarner and Istria regions. By providing the theoretical explanation of the Istrian scale, Matetić established the basis for composing artistic music in this specific scale. His compositions became a kind of folklore anthem of the Kvarner region and include a variety of choral, solo, church and instrumental pieces. In 1977, his birth house in Ronjgi was turned into a memorial house which is today the seat of the ‘Ivan Matetić Ronjgov’ Association. ‘Matetić Days’ is an event celebrating him that takes place annually.
Ivan Ivo Jardas, also known as Barba Zvane Halubjan Matijašev od Marčeji, was born on 15 July 1888. He attended the state school in Sveti Matej (present-day Viškovo) and the trade school in Kastav, which he completed in 1902, emigrating to America at the age of 17. However, since life there did not turn out as he had expected, he returned to his birth place in 1908, where he enrolled at Kastav teacher training school.
During his schooling, he became interested in his homeland and national heritage. His first ethnographic records date back to 1909 and 1910. After graduating in 1913, he worked as a teacher in Martinčići near Grožnjan. On the initiative of Matko Laginja, he started collecting ethnographic materials such as national poems, stories and customs. As a genuine teacher and patriot, he often had to change his place of work due to political circumstances in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. He worked in Jastrebarsko from 1925 to 1930, in Lokve until 1949, and then returned to Zagreb, where he became headmaster of the elementary school in Harambašićeva Ulica Street, remaining there until his retirement in 1951. In 1953, Matica hrvatska published his Chakavian stories called Kitica mažurani, and in 1957 the Yugoslavian Academy of Sciences and Arts (JAZU) published his book Kastavština. His ethnographic study Po grožnjanskom Krasu was published in 1971. Ivan Ivo Jardas died in 1978.
The writer Berto Lučić was born in 1921 in Globići. He actively participated in the cultural life of the Halubje area from childhood. He recited and acted, and was a member of the Red Cross Tamburitza Choir. His first poems were published in 1938 in two local newspapers. During World War Two, he was tried and imprisoned in Florence, but returned after the Italian surrender, joined the partisans, and resumed his cultural and artistic work.
After World War Two, he lived in Rubeši (Kastav), where he continued his work. In the 1970s, the first cultural programmes were organised in Kastav. Berto Lučić was initially a presenter and afterwards also the author of comic texts in the Chakavian dialect. In the 1990s, the KUD Istarska vila cultural association performed his one-act plays Likuf and Na matice. This is considered today as the beginning of the Kastav Summer of Culture series of events which takes place every year in the town of Kastav.
He received an award from the Croatian Culture Council (Hrvatski sabor culture) for writing the screenplay for the comedy Botrinje and also directing it. In addition, he wrote the shows Primorska poneštrica and Judi i užanci for Radio Rijeka. He also had a column called Pod urun in the Novi list newspaper.
Works: poetry collections Judi i užanci, Stočišće and Likuf, comedies Jedanajst kumedij, Dve kumedije i još čagodar. Berto Lučić died in 2002.
Vladimir Jugo was born in 1940 in Gornji Jugi. He attended schools in Viškovo, Kastav and Rijeka, and studied German and philosophy at the Faculty of Humanities in Zagreb. He worked as a teacher in Bakar, Kastav and Viškovo.
Jugo started his career at the Novi list newspaper, first as a proof-reader and then as a journalist and editor. From 1974, he was in charge of the Radio Rijeka show S primorske poneštrice.
A great sports and football enthusiast, he was one of the founders of Halubjan Youth Club and the organiser of numerous football tournaments. He was also the prime mover in founding Halubjan Football Club, for which he played.
The first collection of his newspaper columns Hodi vreme, nosi breme was published in 2003, and the second Veli i mići pod zvezdami in 2005.
As a journalist and co-author of various books, he consistently promoted the Chakavian dialect. His texts pay tribute to the ‘ordinary man’ from Kastav and depict the hard but beautiful life in the Halubje and Kastav areas. Vladimir Jugo (Veli) died in 2014.