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Molise Croats or Molise Slavs (Italian: Slavomolisani, Croatian: Moliški Hrvati) are Shtokavian-speaking Italians, who live in the Molise region of Italy in the villages Acquaviva Collecroce (Kruč), San Felice del Molise (Štifilić), Montemitro (Mundimitar) and elsewhere. In these three villages they are a majority. There are about 1,000 active speakers of the Slavomolisano dialect. Additionally, there are about 1,000 people in other parts of Italy and emigrants in other countries originating from these villages.
These three villages are the descendants of colonies of Croat refugees (due to the Ottoman advance), that appeared in the Italian southern Adriatic hinterland (from Marche to Puglia) in the 15th century.
The governments of Italy and Croatia recognize the Molise Croats as a Croatian minority in Italy. However, the people consider themselves to be Croatian-speaking Italians, and the term "Molise Croat" is a recent exonym rather than their own name for themselves.
Religion and traditions
The Molise Croats, in majority are Catholic. Tradition holds that the community settled "zone bane mora" (from the other side of the sea) in the 15th century, and was once much more widespread. A legend says that they came to the new country on one Friday in May carrying only the statue of Saint Lucy. Because the exact year and date of their arrival is unknown they hold processions dedicated to Saint Lucy (Sveta Luca) on every Friday in May.
Scientists offer the following hypotheses about the geographical origins of Molise Croats:
- About the 16th century, their ancestors migrated to Molise from the valley of the river Neretva, which is partly in southern Croatia, partly in Herzegovina;
- At the beginning of the 16th century the Croat refugees arrived in Molise from Dalmatia, precisely from the area around the mouth of river Neretva (Reissmüller);
- Molise Croats came from areas around the city of Zadar (Aranza);
- Molise Croats originated from štokavian-morlakian part of southern Istria (Badurina);
- Molise Croats originated from Zadar and Šibenik hinterland (Hraste);
- Molise Croats originated from area of Zabiokovlje (hinterland area of mountain Biokovo) in southern Croatia, between cities of Imotski, Zagvozd and Makarska (theory based on čakavian and štokavian-čakavian features in Molise Croatian speech, found also in Zabiokovlje area) (Muljačić).
- Aranza, Josip (1892), Woher die südslavischen Colonien in Süditalien (Archiv für slavische Philologie, XIV, pagg. 78-82, Berlin 1892)
- Heršak, Emil (1982), Hrvati u talijanskoj pokrajini Molise", Teme o iseljeništvu. br. 11, Zagreb: Centar za istraživanje migracija, 1982, 49 str. lit 16.
- Vesna Kukvica (2005), Iseljenički horizonti, Prikazi i feljtoni (ur.: Željka Lovrenčić), Hrvatska matica iseljenika, Zagreb, ISBN 953-6525-37-2, article "Migracije Moliških Hrvata u Zapadnu Australiju" (Migrations of Molise Croats in Western Australia)
- Bruni, Francesco (2001). "Le "isole" linguistiche". Storia della Lingua Italiana (in Italian). Rai International. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
- Anita Sujoldžić, "Molise Croatian Idiom", Coll. Antropol. 28 Suppl. 1 (2004) 263–274
Along with the institutional support provided by the Italian government and Croatian institutions based on bilateral agreements between the two states, the Slavic communities also received a new label for their language and a new ethnic identity – Croatian, and there have been increasing tendencies to standardize the spoken idiom on the basis of Standard Croatian. It should be stressed, however, that although they regarded their different language as a source of prestige and self-appreciation, these communities have always considered themselves to be Italians who in addition have Slavic origins and at best accept to be called Italo-Slavi, while the term "Molise Croatian" emerged recently as a general term in scientific and popular literature to describe the Croatian-speaking population living in the Molise.
- Nogometna momcad Mundimitra Mundimitar football team
- (Croatian) Mundimitar, stari hrvatski grad u Italiji Mundimitar, old Croat town in Italy
- (French) Euromosaic - Le croate en Italie The Croatian minority in Italy, from Universitat Oberta in Catalunya
- (Italian)/(Croatian) Mundimitar/Montemitro municipality
- (Croatian) Porijeklo prezimena o Moliski hrvati u Mundimitru Origins of surnames of Croats in Mundimitar
- UNESCO Red Book on endangered languages and dialects: Europe
- (Italian) Schede sulle minoranze tutelate dalla legge 482/1999 Minority languages in Italy, regulation by law (site of University in Udine, in Italian)
- Personal Home Page on "L'enclava slava di San Felice"
- www.kruc.it - Acquaviva Collecroce Meta description: Acquaviva Collecroce e' un paese di origine e lingua croata molto caratteristico e si trova in Molise....
- (Italian) Alla scoperta degli ultimi 'schiavuni' Article in Balcani Cooperazione
- (French) Les Croates en exil au cours de l'histoire
- (Italian) . Le "isole" linguistiche Linguistic islands
- (German) Autonome Region Trentino-Südtirol Sprachminderheiten in Italy
- Croati del Molise (link dead, but the page from Università della Calabria - Sportello Linguistico Provinciale, shows it under section "Minoranza croata", as well as the site of Observatory of ethnic minorities - Croats in Italy)
- Croats in Italy Social networking website for Croats in Italy