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The story ...

Story of the last noble family of Labin area:

Lazzarini – Battiala


History of the «Lazzarini-Battiala» palace in St. Martin is very interesting , because of the connection with the last large estate owners, the noble family of Lazzarini-Battiala. The Lazzarini-Battiala family was created by the joining of two noble families: Battiala and Lazzarini.

The roots of Battialas go a long way back to the 13th century. As there are no historical notes, various legends exist about the family, which say that they were pirates who defended the Venetian Republic from Turks and Uskoks (rebels) with their fast, armed ships called brigantines. Fortress and watchtower Battalia was located at St. Ivan in Beška near Koromačno. Apart from defending Venice in this area, legend has it that they became powerful buy plundering merchant ships from the Middle East, which were traveling back from Venice, ladden with coins from selling slaves. Battialas were awarded the title of «counts» because of their power and loyalty to Venice. On their family coat of arms the bird «Phoenix» is depicted with a latin saying «Moriendo- rinasitur». The bird Phoenix dies in flames, and is reborn every time, rising from the ashes. The reason because of which count Battiala chose a Phoenix for the symbol of his family can be found in another legend. That legend speaks of one of the counts, who took his pregnant wife to the island of Cres, to protect her from the enemy that was attacking their fortress at Koromačno. In the violent struggle the count perished, while his son came into the world on the island of Cres.

Count Battiala owned land from Ubasa to St. Martin, the residence of the family being in Labin. Today it is a house- palace in the old city part of Labin, and the town's museum. Zhe last male descendant of the Battiala family was count Nikola Battiala, who had no male descendants to carry on the family's name. His daughter, countess Margherita Battiala, was the owner of all the lands and property in Labin, Rabac, Krapanj, Dubrova, St. Martin, Karnica and so forth. To continue the old and fabled family name, Margherita had to marry a son of another noble family. And so it came to be. In 1825. Ludovico, baron Lazzarini von Jablanitz, an officer of the Austrian army, left service to marry Margherita, the only daughter of count Nikola Battiala. A new noble family came into being with that marriage: Lazzarini-Battiala. By this joining of two families, the famous name of the noble family of counts Battiala was never forgotten. To the Lazzarini coat of arms the Battiala's was joined, and to their palaces and lands baron Lazzarini's were added, along with three castles underneath Snježnik, Jablanizza, Bista and Goeteneg.


Members of the Lazzarini-Battiala family were members of «Noble's council» of Labin, which had an important role in running the town. Last generation of barons Lazzarini was particularly interesting. One of them, GIUSEPPE LAZZARINI, doctor of agrarian sciences and a writer, stands out in the beggining of the 20th century with a distinct socialist orientation and support of miners, with which he organizes many strikes and protest gatherings. He is also responsible for drying-out the malaric Čepićko lake. He bore the title of count or conte. Count Giuseppe Lazzarini had two brothers- NIKOLA, called Mikula, who took care of the large estates, and TOMASSO, who was a physician. They were barons. Dr. Tomasso helped everybody, because of which he was so beloved and respected with the people. Often, he would answer people's cries «But i don't have anything to pay you with!» with «Never mind, you will pay when you can.». He was very humane, pleasent and friendly, so that he did his duty as it shoul be done- with love and warmth that won over the pacients.


Baron Nikola ruled over the large estates from his castle in St. Martin – called also the Baron's Court. Along with the living quarters, there were also stables in the castle, and large cellars. Greatest part of the land baron gave to sharecroppers, which were called «soči». All the land taxes, as well as in the stables, were divided in half. Grain, potatoes, grapes, pork and beef. From one swine, only ham and shank would be sent to baron's castle, while the rest of it along with the fat was left to soči. They lived in all the surrounding villages, but also in other villages of the Labin area. Around the court and in it lads and maidens worked and cared for it, and received compensation. The baron was very strict considering the laws that protected the forest, so that his guardians – gvardijani – watched very carefully not to cut down wide trunks but only smaller branches. In the time of summer conffering he employed measurers – meroci – who arbitrated over the division of good. The measurers swore an oath to the baron in slightly peculiar circumstances- in a special office, called skritorija- among candles and human skulls. In that workroom the baron held his «business books», having records on every worker, lad, maiden or other employee. The wine they got for lunch would also be put into their pay: women got a quarter of a litre- kvartin, and men half a litre- polić. Maids – pesterne – took care of the children, their main duty being to play with the little ones. You see, baron Nikola did not marry one from his own class, but a peasent girl, Domenika Mohorović from the village Golji. He fell in love with her when she was ten years old! His love never died, even though Domina married early for another man and gave birth to Sever, Nada and a son that died as a child. When, however, Domina was a widow, baron Nikola took her for his wife, and out of that marriage came Uccia, Fineta and Giacomo. Baron Nikola cared a great deal  about tradition, so that he and his wife were addressed as «illustrissimi». To visit their estates, and to go to Labin they had a number of carriages- a great landeau, two biroccios (one-seaters) and others. The baron smoked pipes and cigars from Tuscany, and he was an excellent charleston dancer, which was popular on the court in St. Martin. There was a saying «Se ti vol ballar un bon charleston- va a San Martino da Baron». As an agronomy expert he gave great attention to preservation of forests and working the land, and inside the court there was the unforgettable baron's Garden- an orchard and a vegetable garden, orderliness of which is to this day discussed. Apart from the castle at St. Martin, the Lazzarini-Battiala family owned a stancija (authentic Istrian country house) on Dubrova, which is today a gathering-place of Labinians and the place of the Mediterranean sculptor’s symposium, with a beautiful park where peacocks once strutted, a manor and a governor’s house for the governor and the staff. Noble horses- lipicaners and Swiss cows were in the stables, and noble wines were in wine cellar, sorted by origin and year of production.

Feeling the nearing end before the start of war, the Lazzarini-Battiala family members sold most of their estates and property and travelled to Italy, closing the book on an interesting story that talked about the last great noble family of the Labin area.

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