Barbara Hütterott

B. Hűtterott on a sailing ship, 1940s, number 4452. Photo courtesy of the Museum of the City of Rovinj-Rovigno - Museo della Città di Rovinj-Rovigno

11.1.1897 – 30.5.1945

Carla Ida Barbara Elizabeth Hütterott was born in Trieste in 1897, seven years after her father, a wealthy and influential businessman credited with laying the foundation for the town’s tourism, had bought several islands in the Rovinj Archipelago, including St. Andrija Island. The following year, he became the owner of a part of Rovinj’s coastline and he started redecorating properties in the area. He died suddenly in 1910, and his plans for the development of elite tourism in Rovinj and the construction of a climate resort sadly not come to fruition.

Following her father’s death in 1910, Barbara spent more and more time on the island with her mother, and they made the permanent move there in 1927. Just as her father, she was enamoured with the sea and sailing. She founded the Vela Arupinum Sailing Association in Rovinj and participated in numerous regattas.

Compared to other women of the time, she was considerably more independent and had an interest in entrepreneurship. She started taking over the business from her mother and initiated new activities in the areas of agriculture, farming and fishing, expanding the business across the Istrian peninsula. In 1933, she co-founded the Azienda del Tartufo – Sella, Hütterott and C. Levade Association for truffle trade in the town of Livade. In order to freely exploit white truffles, the company was granted concession of St. Mark’s Forest (known today as Motovun Forest).

At the time, the people of Istria were not familiar with the value of truffles and had no experience in searching for them, so countess Hütterott brought in truffle experts from Italy. She was aware of how precious truffle hunting dogs were, so she paid for their insurance policies. The preserved norms and regulations for truffle hunting show that every truffle hunter was obliged to cover the hole from which they had dug the truffle. The same rule is still in place today. 

As the company’s director, Barbara advertised truffles in newspapers and magazines, participated in local fairs, and delivered truffles to hotels, restaurants, and the prominent members of society. She became a competitor for the French truffle industry, having conducted market research in Italy and Switzerland.

Apart from the rulebook on workers’ rights and duties, the company paid great attention to the promotion and protection of truffle habitats. For example, they contacted the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry in Rome with the suggestion to introduce not only the high-quality Istrian truffle, but also the truffle zone protection plan. Their truffle hunting ended in 1937, when they lost the concession of St. Mark’s Forest to a certain Facchini due to political reasons.

With increasing difficulty in conducting business and the financial situation worsening, Barbara and her mother realized that exploiting the Montauro quarry and renting land would not be enough. They were forced to start selling their furniture, artwork and weapons collections, and jewellery. During World War II, they were living modestly on the island, and once Germany had surrendered, they were joyful at the prospect of their lives going back to normal and moving to Trieste.

However, with the resolution made on 1 June 1945, the Hütterot family belongings were confiscated as the property of the enemy of the people. In spite of them not exhibiting any hostility, there has been no mention of Barbara nor her mother after 30 May, when the Yugoslav security agency OZNA raided the castle. It is believed that Barbara was killed during the raid and that her body was dumped into the sea.

Castle on St. Andrija (Red Island), Rovinj

The landscape of St. Andrija Island was designed in accordance with the Hütterott family's instructions. Trees and plants from all over the world were planted across the island, and the plumbing system was installed. The castle, which served as the family’s residence, had originally been a Benedictine monastery that was transformed into an oil mill at the beginning of the 19th century. Later, it served as a cement factory, and at the end of the century it was refurbished into a summer house by baron Hütterott. The family tomb is located on the small neighbouring island of Maškin. Today, the castle functions as a hotel, while a portion of the family’s legacy is kept at the Rovinj Heritage Museum.