City's Living Room

City's Living Room

Have you been these days at Split's Riva? It's that long, white and sunbathed promenade by the sea. Christmas Fair has occupied it on such scale that it's even hard to make your way through the crowd. And nobody seems to be bothered about it. What it would bother anyone? Riva is, and always was, a living room of Split, the most important city's public space. It's a place where everything happens, where you grow, live, meet other people, hear about the most important city news, celebrate victories, show the latest fashion styles.

It's like that since forever. When I was younger, back in the 1980s, locals were sharply divided depending on which part of Riva they were hanging out. Even today the one might says "she is the one of those from the part in front of the Saint Francis church". That part of population will reply with "Oh, you know him, he's been hanging in front of the Bobis", a coffee and pastry shop at the eastern end of Riva. So many things changed since then, with cafés string all the way, but habits remain the same. Riva is, to put it simply, still our Riva. To be honest, it's even more beautiful and attractive in winter time. That's the season when Diocletian's Palace's and other buildings' walls create perfect shield against wind, and sun brings all Splićani (local name for Split inhabitants) to enjoy in open-air and socialize. It's Mediterranean in its most beautiful form.

In case you didn't know, all this we can thank to Napoleon. When his rule in the late 1700s spreaded to Dalmatia, his governor Marechal Marmont tore down almost all Venetian fortifications. All the material was thrown into the sea, to create what is today the western part of the main promenade. Back then Riva got its today's look, with only minor changes over the centuries. It's good to see this album.

Names changed, but Splićani never called this place with any other name buth Riva. It's simple. Riva is just more important than any state, any good or bad ruler. That's why we refer to it as a person, old and dear girl friend. She is our Riva.