No, it’s not a bicycle race.
Italian influences in Split are ever present, especially in the local dialect.
One of those words is ĐIR, originating from Italian GIRO (going back to Latin and Greek, but we’ll stop at Italian). In translation, it would mean a circle, tour or a round, but in everyday usage, it is much more than that.
There is no easy way to explain all the meanings it has in Split, but let’s give it a try.
The first time you get to encounter Đir is when as a kid you show up on a playground on your brand new bike and all of your friends want to have a “Đir na biki” - meaning they would like you to let them have your bike for them to ride around on it a bit. An advanced version of this event is taking place in Italy each year and is called Giro d'Italia. Same as on the playground when kids try to take your bike it involves people riding bicycles and people on the side shouting at them and occasionally running after them. It happens on a much larger scale in Italy, but you can see the same blueprint.
In your teens when you are finally allowed to go and stay out past 8PM, you ĐIR becomes an everyday routine, when groups of your teenagers are doing “Đir po Gradu” - meaning circle around the city, visiting all the hotspots of interest to young people. This is something which then sticks with you for the rest of the life in Split. Back in the day, common Đir around Split would involve a meeting place in front of either St. Francis church or The National theater. From there depending on how much money you have and what your relationship status is, most common ground to cover would be Marmont street, Riva - the city promenade, city Pjaca (Piazza) and then into the Diocletian palace to visit Peristil and hang out there, at least back in the 90’. Afterwards even if you go to college, to live in another city or abroad, everytime you come back to Split, by some magnetic force you are drawn back into the same "Đir po Gradu" - tour of the city.
Once you get your group of friends/acquaintances and or common places to hang out, another usage for Đir is to be “uvatiti u Đir” - meaning you are now being made fun of by your friends (same applies to them), it is not mocking, but light sarcastic observations about yourself coming from people close to you. Reasons for it can range from having a crush on someone or wearing some new clothes or trying out a new style of haircut. Everything is up for grabs and nobody gets angry, it is well meant and a lot of people get their nicknames following these teasing sessions.
Another twist when it comes to using Đir is “Biti u điru” - meaning being hip, one of the derivatives is: “dobar mu je đir” - meaning that someone has a good taste in pop culture and blended together it would mean that clothes, music, places where a person hangs out are good and likeable by a larger group.
One Đir to rule them all would be “Splitski Đir” - meaning Split way (of doing things). It is combined with everything mentioned before and transcends to a way of life in Split. Splitski Đir is highly valued in rest of Croatia as well as it combines the easy-going Mediterranean lifestyle with some of the specifics of Split city.
It would involve the following (and more, but we'll leave that for anothe blog as I am not easily insiperd to write):
Playing picigin on Bacvice beach - Local sport, played in shallow waters with the rubber tennis ball, in groups of around 5 people, the goal is to keep the ball in the air using attractive moves, the opponent is gravity.
Kava na Rivi - Drinking coffee on the city promenade is the favourite pastime for most people from Split, on a sunny day you will get a chance to see how around 1 million USD looks like when invested in sunglasses in one place.
Piva na Matejusci - Drinking beer in what once was (and still is to some extent) a fisherman’s port. And yes, at Matejuska it is legal to drink in public, so you’ll find a lot of local philosophers and advanced thinkers here, their philosophy getting more abstract with each beer they have.
Ručak u Fife - Lunch at Fife which is a local tavern with big portions and cheap food, next to Matejuska, comes in handy after two beers on Matejuska
Đir po Marjanu - NY has Central Park, we have Marjan, park forest overlooking the city, in fact, the tip of the peninsula on which Split is located. In good weather it is packed with people with kids, people on bicycles, people running after people on bicycles, dogs running after people who are running after bicycles… you get the idea, my favorite spot in Split just to unwind a bit and get away from the stress of urban living.
We suggest some of these things to all of our clients on Private Tours in our organization, sorry I meant Private Đirs, depending on their age and group setup.