A few days ago, somebody commented on an old post about my surname, Mladineo. They told a wonderful story about how the Mladineos bravely fought off the Turks in defense of the Venitian Replubic and how the Mladineos were given the title of Duke/Duchess. Apparently, they originate from the isles of Vis and Brac.
Anyway, I was doing some searching online and stumbled upon a Wikipedia article that briefly talks about the history of Marco Polo and Croatia. It states that since the Croatians routinely worked on Italian ships, they altered their last names when in Italy and kept their Croatian name while at home. So Mladinich became Mladineo.
Henry S. Hart in his book, Venetian Adventurer: Marco Polo, states, “These merchants were Maffeo and Nicolo Polo, sons of one Marco Polo, a descendant of an old Dalmatian Family which had come from Sibenik, Dalmatia, and settled in Venice in the 11th Century.” Hart goes on to say, “The crews of the Venetian ships were freemen, so many of them Slavonians (Croatians) from the Dalmatian Coast that the long dock by St. Mark’s Square was and is known as the Riva degli Schiavoni (Slavonian-Croatian).” Marko Polo was the greatest explorer of all time. More significant than Columbus, he opened to Europe all of Asia, including China, which in turn prompted the discovery of America. Marco Polo had a home on the Island of Korcula in Dalmatia, then a shipbuilding and merchant center of Dalmatia. The merchant and the noble class in Dalmatia did use two names, one Latin-Italian as citizens of Venice and their own Croatian name in their own circles. Bogdanich became Bogdaneo, Mladinich-Mladineo, Arnerich-Arneri and Glavinich-Capogrosso. Some simply used the Latin-Italian meaning of their name, such as Cvietkovich-Florio, Lupis-Vukasinovich or Polo-Pilich. (emphasis added)