hat factory was established in 1858 by Euphilius Ronchi who came
Croatia from Milan, Italy. RONCHI has been in business ever since
and has survived three wars
and five different governments.
Today’s heiress, owner and designer Marina Grabovac
Ronchi still uses the same old technology
of handicraft while making the unique and extravagant hats.
While in Dubrovnik, don’t miss the opportunity
to visit our store. Our rich choice of hats will make
the perfect gift or souvenir to take back home to give to your
dear ones, or just to remind you of
THE STORY ABOUT RONCHI
The story about the Ronchi family in Dubrovnik
begins in the year 1858, when my great-great
grandfather Euphilius Ronchi came here from Milan, Italy. They
were an aristocratic family and
they moved out of their home 10 years after the French revolution.
The aristocrats had to change
their way of living. My great-great grandfather thought it would
be a good idea to go as far as
Dubrovnik was at that time. He established a hat factory and a
hat shop in the building he bought
in the Old Town. After he passed away, his son Victor took over
the factory. At that time, Dubrovnik
was under the Austrian-hungarian monarchy, and they didn't like
the Italians very much because
they at war with them, so the government of that time confiscated
the whole building where the
Ronchi family lived and worked and throwed them out on the street.
That was in 1900. Victor died
shortly after and my great grandmother Josipa was left alone with
three children. Josipa found a
small shop on the main street, Stradun, that was owned by the
government and she carried on with
the shop and her life.
In 1918, after the First World War, the Austrian-hungarian
monarchy was defeated and we became
the monarchy of Slovenian, Croats and Serbs. During that time,
ever since 1900, they had a lot
of work, because everybody wore hats and caps.They had a big competition
as well. There were
about ten hat makers at that time in Dubrovnik.
In 1932 my aunt was borne and in 1936 my mother
with her twin brother. The year 1941 wasn't so
good for the family Ronchi. My mother's twin brother, Victor,
age 5, died. The last heir that could carry
on the Ronchi name was gone. At the same year, the communists
took over and the Second World
When the Second World War ended, the communists
came to power and confiscated most of the
shops. A lot of shops closed at that time and we became one of
the last hat makers in Dubrovnik.
Those hat makers that continued with their work, closed during
the first years of the new government.
We were the only one left. The government gave us the order to
move out of the store into a smaller
one, still on the mail street. There we stayed until 1964, when
we had to move again, this time into
a side street. By that time the fashion changed and it wasn't
modern any more to ware a hat.
That was the period from 1950-1960.
The 60-ties were different. The foreigners were
coming to Dubrovnik in a flow and hats were back in
fashion. My mother too, helped her parents at that time - there
was a lot of work, little time and a lot of
hats that had to be made. My mother is the last member of the
family that had a final exam in how to be
a hat maker. A few years later that school was shut down.
I was borne in 1959, and was a small girl when
I begun helping my grandparents in a shop.
I used to sell, whenever my grandfather would let me. He always
used to tell me - When you grow up,
you're going to make hats. I never learned about hat making in
any school, most of the things
I know were shown to me by my mother or I learned by myself. My
grandparents both died in 1978.
My mother took over. I was 18 then, and wanted to be a singer.
It took me a year to become one.
I sung till 1991, until the war between Croats and Serbs, and
my mother was in charge of the hat making.
I used to help my mother by opening the shop every day, selling
and I took out all the moles my family
still had and I taught myself
how to make hats. Even today, I make hats on the same moles and
I use the same kind of technology
that my ancestors used.
In 1997, my mother had a stroke and I took over
the shop. In 1980, I gave birth to twin girls and when
I took over the shop, they were 17 years old and wanting to know
everything about our business. They
were and are a great help to me.
We want to distribute hats our hand made
hats all over the world and we hope that
this will be possible soon.
After all, we're talking about a family
business that lasted for 141 years and survived
three wars and five different governments.
Marina Grabovac, designer