This is an amusing journey through a not-so-distant empire Part of my summer holiday was spent driving from Chernivtsi to Riva del Garda. The former, still better known in English by its old German name of Czernowitz, is a busy town in western Ukraine; the latter is a bustling holiday resort at the northern tip of Lake Garda, in Italy. But less than a century ago they were two towns at either end of the same political entity, the Austro-Hungarian empire.In Chernivtsi I saw the huge and extraordinary Jewish cemetery, testament to a civilisation expunged. Just outside the Ukrainian resort of Tatariv, I saw the cemetery of Austro-Hungarian soldiers who fell there in the first world war. In Transylvania, I looked at monuments to Romanian and Hungarian heroes. In Trieste, once the empire’s great port, I watched a christening at the Serbian Orthodox church.With the anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war under a year away, books about 1913 and 1914 have been tumbling off the presses; Danubia is related but different, and fills the gap on the history shelves with a fresh look at a region and a dynasty of which most of us in the English-speaking …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books