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Famous people

Even though Istra has produced many famous people known in the wider region, world “fame” has primarily been achieved by sports people. Mate Parlov, a native of Pula was double European champion, Olympic medal winner, World champion and professional champion of Europe and the world in boxing. Lino Červar from Umag was at the helm of the Croatian handball team, world champions and Olympic medal winners.

The famous American automobile driver of Italian decent, Mario Andretti, who in 1978 became the world champion in Formula 1, was born in Istra (Motovun 1940). The Istrian peninsula has also been the temporary residence (a few months a year) chosen by many Croatians with world reputations, like the recently deceased Edo Murtić, one of Croatians most well known artists and ceramicists, or Boško Petrović, the most prominent name in the Croatian jazz scene. Even Josip Broz Tito, who managed to keep Istra a part of Yugoslavia after the WWII, loved to come here for holidays. Most often he stayed on Brijuni, where he played host to various statesmen and members of the jet-set and he was also a regular guest at the Pula film festival.

However, this was also a place always visited by world famous foreigners: the Italian author Dante Alighieri in his “Divine comedy” mentions Pula so it is assumed he spent some time here, the famous Venetian lover Giacomo Casanova also took away fond memories of women and wine from Vrsar. In 1893, the Austrian industrialist Paul Kupelwieser purchased Brijuni and had the islands transformed into a resort for the high social classes and royal families. The renowned bacteriologist Robert Koch at the beginning of the 20th century fought malaria here. Brijuni were also visited by the German writer Thomas Mann, Pula and Poreč by the Italian poet Gabriele D’Anunzio, even the Irish writer James Joyce spent some time in Pula, while in recent years, Brijuni have been visited by the Princess of Monaco Caroline Ranier, as well as Naomi Campbell, Flavio Briattore, Slavica and Bernie Ecclestone

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