TRIESTE, CAPODISTRIA and ISTRIA

Trip Start Jul 08, 2010
1
9
31
Trip End May 04, 2011


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Flag of Italy  , Friuli-Venezia Giulia,
Sunday, September 26, 2010

This is my land and therefore allow me to tell you something more about it.
Well, I am istrian, half italian by nationality, language and culture and half croatian by blood and  family name as my parents were from Pinguente-Buzet-Istria a nice peninsula now part of Croatia but  italian, venetian, roman along centuries before.
So at sixty years of age as pensioner I felt the desire to visit the place where I was born, Capodistria now Koper the most important slovenian port, where are my family roots in Pinguente-Buzet now Croatia and Trieste where I spent the most of my life from 6 to 43 years of age when I moved to Milan where I have been living for 18 years now.
Trieste was  the most important port of the austrian hungarian empire since  the time of Maria Theresia and then Francis Joseph, but became austrian long before around 1382 when the Municipality decided to accept the protection of the Austrian Empire against the rival Venice.
Trieste anyway remained always italian for ideal, culture and heart  and returned  officially under Italy after the first world war in 1918 until 1943 when it had been occupied by the Nazis.
In 1945 arrived in Trieste the partizans of Tito and the allied forces(Neo Zealanders and British).
After 40 unforgettable days  of terror by the yugoslav communists with thousands of people disappeard and thrown in the famous foibe (caves), the city remained  under anglo-american administration until 1954 when it returned definitely to Italy (A zone).
The northern part of Istria was the B zone where my family lived and where I was born and that remained under Yugoslav administration until 1975 when it passed oficially to Yugoslavia according the Treaty of Osimo and after the collapse of Yugoslavia became Slovenia around 1991.
So Istria, my fatherland ,is separated into three pieces: a very little one with the Municipalities of Muggia and San Dorlgio della Valle that belongs to Italy, the former B zone with Capodistria, Isola, Portorose,  Pirano and Salvore that are part of Slovenia, while the greatest part (about 80%) belong to Croatia.
In less than 30 km three different countries but I believe that most of the istrians consider themselves just simply istrians and not italian, slovenian or croatian and I hope that one day it will become a united country.

Trieste is just above Istria and in Trieste live a lot of istrians, about one third of the 300,000 that left Istria after the end of the second world war, while the remaining are: one third in different regions of Italy and the remaining abroad, Australia and Canada the most.
 
In Trieste you can admire the castle of Miramare where Maximillian, the brother of Austrian emperor Francis Joseph lived before his unlucky adventure as Mexican emperor; the crown was offered him by Napoleon III who retired soon his army as he got rid of the Mexican rebels. Maximillian was killed by mexican revolutionaries while his wife, without success, was looking for a help across a lot of  european courts and died very old in the '30 after becoming crazy due to her tragedy.

In Trieste, the old  Roman Tergestum  or Tergeste,  you can see a Roman theatre, the Roman arch of Riccardo that was a gate of the Roman walls, a large square, Piazza Unitą d'Italia, second only to Piazza San Marco in Venice as beauty for a square in front of the sea.
On the hill there is the Basilica of San Giusto, saint patron of the city, a Romanesque church built on the ruins of old  temples and  close to an impressive venetian fortress, the castle of San Giusto.
There are many nice buildings, most of them built in the last century or the previous one as the theatre of Giuseppe Verdi that is a copy of the famous La Scala in Milan.
In Trieste is the Headoffice of Generali, the most important italian Insurance Company and other like RAS and Lloyd Adriatico, plus the Shipping Company Lloyd Triestino and Italcantieri as the city has a long tradition for building  giant ships that have reached any single corner of the world. This activity had been moved to close city of Monfalcone who continues the long tradition while in Trieste there is still the Grandi Motori, a great company, now finnish, that produces giant engines for ships. Trieste has also Illy Caffč, the famous luxury brand coffee and Stock, the famous... brandy and Italsider, steel industries and in October the famous race Barcolana, the greatest in the Mediterranean sea.
In Trieste lived James Joyce and his friend Italo Svevo, the famous italian writer and the poet Umberto Saba both born in Trieste.
West of Trieste in the direction of the Castle of Miramare you can walk along the seaside road of Barcola and going on for about 18 km you can reach along the amazing Costiera, the coastal road, the beautiful Bay of Sistiana and the Castle of Duino, cited by Dante in his Inferno and by the poet Maria Rilke who lived some years in the same castle that now has become partially  the location of the International World United College with hundreds of students from all over the world.
There is a romantic path called Rilke that connects the high area of Sistiana with the Castle of Duino with an impressive view on the Adriatic sea,  the Gulf of Trieste and  the Istrian coast and Grado on the other sides.
Above the city there is a limestone plateau (Carso) that is the recreation area of Trieste for nice walkings together with the canyon of Val Rosandra with an amazing lake and waterfall just before the border with Slovenia. Many climb the rocky walls of the canyon while others prefer to immerse  in the caves found in the Karst. But the most go the seaside at the famous Topolini (Micky Mouse), socalled public baths along the riviera of Barcola, before the castle of Miramare, where many generations of Trieste have spent their summer days off bathing, diving in the waters, making jokes to friends,playing cards or simply sunbathing and listening to music with headphones.
In the Carso you can visit the famous Grotta Gigante (giant cave) so big that can contain St.Peter Cathedral of Rome, a botanical garden, a weapon museum in the open air and the Citadel of the Research Area.
The Trieste system includes a lot of scientific and research institutions at international level like ICTP, Internation Centre for Theoretical Physics directed by Nobel size Mr.Abdus Salam, then SISSA, TWAS, ICGEB, ICS and Syncrotron Elettra
In the '70 the Dr.Franco Basaglia, director of the psychiatric hospital of Trieste, started a new revolutionary method of treatment for nervous and mental illnesses attracting scholars from all over the world. I hope I have not forgotten anything important and maybe I have written too much, but you know: go where your heart takes you!  yes even this bestseller was written by a writer born in Trieste: Susanna Tamaro..
So I spent one week in Trieste visiting relatives and friends and the places of my chilhood, adolescence, youthness and maturity and I have here paid a tribute to this beloved city that I often miss from Milan.

Then I passed the open border to reach other relatives in Capodistria where I was born and I could see my house completely restored by the actual owner who received it maybe for just little money from Slovenian government while around 1968 the communist  Yugoslavia of Tito sent us two lines stating that our house had been nationalised and we had no right on it because living abroad (20 km far on the other side of the border!)  but not telling us that everything had been done in order that we go away as confirmed by Gilovan Milas, right arm of Tito then fell from grace, in an interview at the magazine Panorama of Fiume, Rijeka,1991.
He  told that in 1946 he and Edward Kardelj, another great hierarch of the communist nomenclature,  were sent by Tito in Istria to organize propaganda against italians in order to demonstrate to Allied forces that those lands were slavic and not italian and that was not true, most of the population of the cities were italian while the villages only were slavic and everything was done in order that the italian would go away and my family went away after ten years of pain and abuses of any kind.

 I just would like to have my home back, my father worked six years in the coal mine of Arsia,Istria to save the money to buy a farm with an old house  that my mother during the second world war rebuilt while my father was fighting in North Africa, El Alamein battle included.
The widow who occupies my house was very friendly some years ago when I came there on visit and  told me: I have been living here for 40 years and can offer you a glass of good wine and he showed me a lot of couples that he had won for the wine produced.
Yes my dear, I replied, but you produce this good wine from vines planted by my father and you live in the house built by mother. He remained with no words. Before going I told him: one day I will come back and we have to find an agreement. I have nothing against you, but for example we can share the house and the soil, 50% for you and 50% for me. He laughed and replied: I do not know, I have to speak with my son.
And his son has recently restored and doubled the house as I could noticed in this recent visit.

 What have I to do? My parents are dead but I feel the mission to obtain their house back.
Can someone give me good advice on this? Slovenian government is blind and deaf about it while italian government consider us istrians and dalmatians as boring people that claim after so many years disturbing their quiety and good salaries.
We have never ceased to claim and to ask for our rights but we have received no replies as before there was the communism, then there was the yugoslav civil war, then these countries entered (Slovenia) into E.C. while Croatia is about to enter,  but who gives us an answer?
I know that in most countries of East Europe the old owners are getting back the nationalized properties, everywhere except for Slovenia and Croatia. Am I correct?
Sorry for this maybe boring story but this is, was my life. I was five years old when my family was allowed  in 1955 to emigrate to Trieste, Italy and I have lived two years in a refugee camp at Padriciano, now a not respected museum as you will see from the photo that I have posted.
Some years ago Mariella Manzutto, a dear friend of mine and Istrian like me, organized an interesting exhibition of those hard times at the refugee camp with old photos and objects.
Even some national italian politicians came to see the exhibition and now this place is left in complete  abandone even though you can see the writing museum from che closed gate.

Coming back to the croatian trip after Trieste, Italy and Capodistria, Slovenia and Pinguente, Croatia THREE COUNTRIES IN ABOUT 30 KM OF DISTANCES!

Well Croatia is a beautiful country, the peninsula of Istria Roman, Venetian has nice towns on the west coast like  CITTANUOVA-NOVIGRAD, UMAGO-UMAG, ORSERA-VRSAR and FONTANA-FUNTANA but the jems are:

PARENZO-POREC with the roman byzantin  Eufrasian church protected by Unesco, with important mosaics and paintings over the altar, some roman ruines, nice white stone paved streets, a green island in front and a lot of campings and seaside resorts in nearby Plava and Zelena Laguna where I used to spend my holidays in my twenties and thirties and dancing at the International Club now changed in Byblos.
The beauty of this region is due to the clear blue sky and green water of the sea, the rocky beaches, the green fields and the mediterranean vegetation in front of lagoons, bays and a lot of islands.    

and ROVIGNO-ROVINJ  the best town for artists with pedestrian streets and a hill with the St.Eufemia church on the top  and a nice marina, a green park with pleasant paths that arrive in front of Red Island famous for its naturist beach since the '60.
In Istria there are a lot of naturist campings and tourist villages, some are the greatest of Europe like Monsena and Valalta located at the foce of the fjord LEME-LIMSKI KANAL that is one of the highlight of Istria, so relaxant, green like a paradise.
 
Istria has good wine, oil and ham, you can eat good fish and enjoy its amazing blue sea and rocky beaches among old white stone houses, admiring everywhere the S.Marco venetian lions carved on the upper parts of the gates of churches and palaces.

There are some towns on top of hills, surrounded by grey and high walls like PINGUENTE-BUZET, MONTONA-MOTOVUN and ALBONA-LABIN. Old citadels where you can breathe old times air watching the panorama of the valley below where the new modern cities have grown.

Other towns have precious noble palaces like VALLE-BALE with its Palace Brembo or DIGNANO- VODNJAN with a nice central square and many elegant old palaces.

FASANA-FAZANA is a very simple and nice town in front of the sea and with a pier from which one starts to get to the islands BRIONI-BRIJUNI,  a small archipelago with the remains of some Roman villas, a park with exotic animals donated to Tito who had his summer home here but also the houses where he received the representation of foreign heads of state or international film stars  whom he often invited.
 
POLA-PULA is the capital of Istria and has a roman anphitheater second only to Colosseum of Rome. There are also some old walls, the roman Arch of Sergi, the August Temple and an old Middle Age palace in the old city, while on top you can admire a venetian fortress, down the ruins of a roman theatre and an interesting Archeological museum.

I avoided the cape of Premantura and Medulin a famous sea-side resort, very green and with a lot of campings and visited ARSIA-RASA, the town close to the river with the same name where my family lived when my father worked there as coal miner . The coal mine had been closed in 1975 but there are still the houses were the coal miners lived and that were built in the '30 and then AlLBONA-LABIN an old historic town on a high hill surrounded by old walls, with nice palaces, churches and an impressive gate with the lion of Venice and an austrian iron gun at its feet.
Going up the eastern coast of Istria you meet FIANONA-PLOMIN a pretty little town,  on a hill over a long channel-bay now very important because at the end there is a large plant that produces energy. 

Then you arrive at the  Gulf of QUARNERO with LAURANA-LOVRAN and ABBAZIA-OPATIA luxury seaside resorts from the time of Austrian empire. Villa Angiolina, now museum of croatian tourism was the first touristic hotel opened  in 1844 and after it all the rich austrians established in this nice coast and built their luxury villas and that continued duringr the 20 years of italian administration between the two world wars and also during the communist time of Tito. More recently during the civil war of Yugoslavia of the '90, many political refugees found a shelter and they lived inside these palaces some years and now some of these villas are abandoned because it is difficult to know who is the real owner and noone wants to invest money for the restoration  because of the risk that then the old owners ask their properties back.
Anyway Laurana and Abbazia are wonderful and connected by a 18 km long coastal pedestrian road made of many concrete bridges and suspended paths among parks, gardens with the view of old villas, new luxury hotels, green hills and the mountain MAGGIORE-UCKA crossed by a 5km long tunnel that connects the Gulf of Quarnero with the rest of Istria. On the summit of the mountain there is an important center for broadcasting that covers a large area even outside Istria and Quarnero.
In the Middle of Quarnero Gulf, where Istria ends and Dalmatia starts, is FIUME-RIJEKA that means river, the biggest port of Croatia.
It has Austrian style palaces like the yellow and elegant  Ploech Palace now Headoffice of Jadrolinija, the most important croatian Shipping Company, some italian churches, the best is the cathedral of St.Vitu, a long pedestrian central street, the Corso, the City Tower, the Roman arch gate, the Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc, the Palazzo Comunale, oldest town hall  and on the top of a panoramic mountain dominating the city and the port, an old fortress with a romantic bar and a Marian Church  with the statue of Pope John Paul II who visited it many years ago.
                          

 

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