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Mouths of the Timavo / Monfalcone

14 August 2024
Waters
Borders
Conflicts
Traditions
Estrangements

Program

7:00 p.m. exploration of the Mounths of the Timavo area by historian Roberto Todero; departure from the church of San Giovanni in Tuba

8:30 p.m. refreshments provided by the organisers at the oratory San Michele of Monfalcone

9:30 p.m. start of the performance at the oratory San Michele in Monfalcone

REMINDER! after the walk at the Mouths of the Timavo you will have to reach independently the oratory San Michele of Monfalcone 

event language: Italian

information: +39 3281547471

thanks to: Oratorio San Michele, don Flavio Zanetti, Roberto Todero

ἐν αὐτῶι δὲ τῶι μυχῶι τοῦ Ἀδρίου καὶ ἱερὸν τοῦ Διομήδους ἐστὶν ἄξιον μνήμης͵ τὸ Τίμαυον· λιμένα γὰρ ἔχει καὶ ἄλσος ἐκπρεπὲς καὶ πηγὰς ἑπτὰ ποταμίου ὕδατος εὐθὺς εἰς τὴν θάλατταν ἐκπίπτοντος͵ πλατεῖ καὶ βαθεῖ ποταμῶι. 

At the bottom of the Adriatic gulf there is the "Timavum", a temple consecrated to Diomedes, and worthy of mention: in fact it has a port, a beautiful forest, and seven springs of drinking water, which flow into the sea after joining to form a wide and deep river. 

So wrote Strabo, a few lines before quoting the Syrian geographer Posidonius of Apamea in the passage we read a few days ago in Škocjan, regarding the path of the Timavo. But before Strabo, before Posidonius, before the temple consecrated to Diomedes, was the forest consecrated to the Lord of Animals, where hunting dogs refused to chase their prey and where wolves and deer coexisted peacefully. And even before the forest consecrated to the Lord of Animals, the lake around the forest, and above all the Timavo springs emerging from the living rock, the impetuous springs consecrated to the Great Goddess. 

According to the Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, the Great Goddess, the divinity venerated throughout Europe until at least the arrival of the Indo-European populations, didn’t have a unique iconography but was represented in hundreds of different images, made up each time of different combinations of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and abstract elements. Combinations in which aquatic references were often predominant: the goddess was often depicted as an aquatic bird, abstract symbols prevailed on her body such as zigzag and meander motifs with a clear aquatic reference, and the omnipresence of triangles to symbolize the vulva were often associated with mesh motifs to symbolize the uterine fluid, the mystery from which life flows, as from the water of springs, from the water of rivers, from the water of the sky.

I stay a little longer to examine closely the turbulent waters that flow from the rock, creating infinite vortices and eddies of an indefinite color between glaucous, turquoise and cyan: there is something mysterious in this constant, inexhaustible and gentle power that erupts from the earth, something about the feminine that escapes me, something about Europe that I cannot understand on my own. 

And it’s quite impressive to then cross the state road and suddenly find yourself in front of a large square stone with the following words engraved in the marble: Respect the field of death and glory. Behind it are the stony foothills of Mount Hermada, which the Italians of the Third Army tried to conquer in every way possible without ever succeeding, leaving thousands dead on the field. “Some of the deadliest battles of the Isonzo front took place here near the Timavo” Roberto Todero, a historian from Trieste and expert on the First World War, confided to me. “It’s no coincidence that the remains of the eleventh Unknown Soldier were collected right here near the river, then transferred together with the other ten to Aquileia where one would be chosen to consecrate at the Altare della Patria in Rome".

I return to Timavo, to the church of San Giovanni in Tuba. The apse is flooded, the polychrome mosaics with Solomon's knots are underwater, green cruciferous herbs grow between the plinths of the columns. For a moment I delude myself that outside the church there is still the lacus timavi that Titus Livy spoke of when referring to Strabo's "wide and deep river", but it's just a moment, because in reality today it's just traffic, noise and the loca deserta of Lísert occupied by the industrial area.