Soap about turbid waters

The first weeks after I arrived in Croatia, my skin was itchy and irritated. I soon realised the reason was the high level of chloride in Croatian tap water. My body got used to it, although the smell sometimes still bothers me. Also annoying is the huge amount of calcium bicarbonate in the water. Within weeks coffee machines and water cookers stop working properly due to limescale.
You can image I was surprised to find out that - of all things - citizens of Zagreb are the most proud of drinkable tap water. I can't see why. I used to drink a lot of tap water, but Zagreb's tap water tastes too bad. According to the same survey, Zagrepčani are equally proud of Maksimir park. Well, that makes more sense.
The survey was conducted on the eve of the International Healthy Cities Conference, held in Zagreb this week. I can't prove the survey's questions were biased, but would you spontaneously mention "tap water" if somebody asked you to name the city's number one pride? Certainly not the people living in the new apartments in the Vrbani neighbourhood who were unaware of drinking contaminated water for a long time. The city blamed the construction company and advised the residents not to use tap water to take shower, let alone to drink it, but to get water from the hydrant outside of their buildings. The residents faithfully did so, only to find out that it was contaminated too. The blame then shifted to the municipal Water Supply. The construction company now says the residents tarnished its image and it seeks a million kuna damages. It's no water under the bridge yet...

A Shakespearean drama: Marin Držić

This year Croatia celebrates the 500th anniversary of Marin Držić, Croatia's foremost Renaissance writer. Držić was born into a big family in 1508 in the then city state of Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is obviously proud of its writer, to say the least, and regards him as the Croatian Shakespeare, Goethe, Dante and Moliere. No visitor to Dubrovnik could possible miss the big cloth hanging at the Pile gate, the main entrance to the old town.
Chronologically speaking, Shakespeare, Goethe, Dante and Moliere should be referred to as the British, German, Italian and French Držić, since he was born before these literary icons. That no one does so, suggests that Držić passed into oblivion outside of his homeland.
I can't say much about the quality of his plays, but if they are only half as interesting as Držić's life then they are definitely worth reading. He travelled to Vienna, Constantinople, Venice, Sienna and Florence. There, in Florence, he tried to convince the Medici to help him overthrow the autocratic Dubrovnik government. Under the new government, the nobility would share power with popular representatives. The Medici, however, didn't even bother to answer Držić's letters. Držić moved to Venice, where he died in 1567. He was buried in the Santi Giovanni e Paolo church in Venice.

Croats in Dalmatia

It is conventional wisdom that Slavic tribes, and among them Croats, settled in Dalmatia in the 7th century. This thought is primarily based on the book De Administrando Imperio, written in the 10th century by Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. As Constantine wrote about things he thought that happened three centuries ago, some of his observations could be wrong.
Professor Neven Budak, for example, recently stated that there is no material evidence at all that Croats already lived in Dalmatia in the 7th or 8th century. He presented this "sensational discovery", as the paper Slobodna Dalmacija called it, at a conference organised by the University of Zadar.
De Administrando Imperio is known to contain a lot of errors, so Budak's disovery is not as sensational as Slobodna Dalmacija suggests. Much more surprising is the absence of further discussion in Croatia. I couldn't find the proceedings of the conference and read what Budak exactly said, but his findings should provoke some reactions in the small field of Croatian historians. Right?
Two painters put the arrival of the Croats on canvas. The first and most popular painting is by Oton Iveković. I can see why. Iveković portrayed the Croats as a well-dressed, civilised people, a kulturni narod as Croats like to say. Celestin Medović's painting, however, shows the Croats as a wild, barbaric and warlike tribe that fought its way to the Ardriatic Sea. We will probably never know how they looked like, but we might some day get an anwer to the question when they saw the sparkling Adriatic Sea for the first time.