Introduction

INTRODUCTION

The little hamlet of Komiza lies at the western end of the Island of Vis, which lies twenty-six miles due south of Split, Croatia. The island measures about nine miles east to west and four miles north to south. Over the centuries, the island’s population has varied from 4,000 to as high as 12,000. On the northeast corner of the island lies the village of Vis Town with its fine harbor.

The island will be referred to as Lissa (from the old Italian name for the island). Komiza will be referred to as Comissa(from the old Italian name for the hamlet).

The Island of Vis (Lissa) is on the trade route used by the Venetians since 800 A. D. This, plus the little islands, coves, and other hiding places makes the entire Adriatic a pirate’s paradise.

Part One deals with a short history of pirates. Part Two concentrates on the major pirate nests of the Adriatic Sea. Part Three deals with the first steps of piracy on Lissa. Part Four is a fictional account of pirates on the island as seen through the eyes of Dinko. He resurrects himself for each new adventure. This part is pure fiction with each of these nests having some ties to Comissa thrown in. Most of the characters, although fictional, are based on friends and relatives.

The center of the island has a large depressed fertile valley which acts as a catch basin for rain water which in turn feeds the numerous springs in and around Komiza. The abundance of fresh water is more than enough to sustain Komiza, with enough left over to supply Vis Town. Most of the islands of the Adriatic do not have enough water to sustain a very large population. This fresh water is the major reason Komiza has attained such prominence.

The social center of Komiza is the Riva, or waterfront. It is “L” shaped with the tall leg going north about five-hundred feet and ending at the Zanki Mansion. This building is four stories high, the largest residence on the island, and was built by the Venetian warlord, Antun Zanki, probably my Great Grandfather five or six generations back. It dates from the late 1600s. The bottom of the “L” turns west and is about 400 feet long and ends at the castle Mazzolini. This castle is about fifty feet square and rises to over one-hundred feet high. Within the arms of the “L” is the little cove containing the village’s fishing boats.

The Riva is the center for all social information, gossip, rumors and real news. It is lined with drinking houses, coffee bars, a bakery, a fish market, a farmers market, restaurants, a police station, and small shops. Early risers come down at sunrise to buy their bread and fresh fish for the day and then sit with a friend or two over a cup of coffee. Later risers come down for breakfast around 9:00 AM, and meet with friends to discuss the latest news and gossip. The shopping housewives come down all morning. Around 10:00 AM, the workers drop in for their morning coffee break, and around noon the lunch crowd arrives. All these people meet with friends, relatives or casual acquaintances and exchange information of one type or another and enjoy a drink or two. Everyone makes the morning trip to the Riva as a social necessity.

Shortly after noon the area empties until 6:00 or 7:00 PM when the dinner crowd arrives and then around 9:00 PM the strollers and lovers come down for the obligatory hand-in-hand stroll for an hour or two, meeting and chatting with neighbors, friends and relatives, and of course, boy meet girl encounters. This lasts late into the evening.

The island and its many hamlets and villages have been subject of many maritime raids over the centuries. Both Turkish Corsairs and Christian Pirates have taken advantage of the population. Around 1550 A.D. Christian pirates raided the town and pillaged the village church, Our Lady of the Rosary, located at the far north end of the village. These pirates made off with a wooden statute of Our Lady, and as they were departing a large storm overtook them and they floundered in the sea. Miraculously the statue washed ashore on the local beach and was restored to the church. This church would forever after be known as the Pirate Church.