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Trst / Trieste

30 August 2024


4:30 p.m. exploration of Trieste with Gian Andrea Franchi; departure from the Risiera di San Sabba - via Giovanni Palatucci 5, 34148 Trieste - and arrival in Piazza della Libertà

7:00 p.m. "The Balkan route", a talk with Egidio Ivetić and Roberta Altin at the Miela Theatre - piazza Luigi Amedeo Duca degli Abruzzi 3, 34132 Trieste

8:30 p.m. refreshments provided by the organisers in cooperation with Fornelli Resistenti in Piazza Libertà

9:30 p.m. start of the performance at the Miela theatre

event language: Italian

information: +39 3281547471

thanks to: Teatro Miela, Associazione Linea d'Ombra, Fornelli Resistenti, Gian Andrea Franchi, Lorena Fornasir, Egidio Ivetić, Roberta Altin 

Between the central railway station and the monumental entrance to the old port, is the former silo building, designed in the mid-19th century, the same period as the station: a huge building on three floors, a central body with a monumental facade embellished by the forepart with tympanum, rose window and large round blind arcades. At the back, on the sides, two long bodies developing into forty-four lowered arches, leaving a large clearing in the middle for the freight train tracks.

If it was originally designed for the storage and movement of cereals, a quick look at its history immediately reveals a short circuit, a gray area: here, between December '43 and the spring of ’45, thousands of Jews were piled up, waiting for the trains that would take them to die in the ovens of Auschwitz.

“Did you see how many Aleppo pines are on the street? For a moment it was like being at home”, Muḥammad says to me when we leave the station and turn right, "it was the same in Cres too, remember? Many, many forests of Aleppo pine, amazing!”.

After the war, the building became for a certain period a migrant accommodation center for refugees from Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia who settled here haphazardly while waiting to be sorted in other Italian cities, where the reception often wasn’t any better. “That one up there reminds me of a window in a house down at the port of Haifa” says Muḥammad pointing to the rose window of the silo building, and in fact for a moment my memory goes back to the oblong openings of the old warehouses of the late Ottoman period in Jaffa. “I never saw it myself, but it was in the background of a photo of my parents”.

Today, apart from the central body which is still used as a bus station, the two long side bodies are completely abandoned in run-down conditions, the roof has collapsed in many points, under the large segmental stone arches there are mountains of rubbish, rubble, dust and mice: this is where migrants live.

As we wander among the tents piled on top of each other, among the improvised bonfires where groups of kids try to keep warm in this snowy spring, Muḥammad stands in silence, his eyes lowered, hands clenched into fists in his pockets.

Then, when we go out into the gravel space where the Tripcovich theater once stood, he stops, remains silent for a while, and then says in disbelief: “If, when the police charged at us in Idoumeni shooting tear gas, if I had known then that I would end up in such a hellhole, I would have begged them to arrest me. If, when crossing the Aegean, when I sank along with the others on the dinghy, if I had known then that I would end up in a place like this, I wouldn’t have shouted to the rescuers to save me. If, when leaving Aleppo and risking my life at the Jabhat an-Nuṣra checkpoints, if I had known then that I would end up here, I swear I would have asked them to kill me.” 


"The Balkan route" talk 

EGIDIO IVETIČ Professor of Modern History at the University of Padua. He is director of the Institute of the History of Venetian Society and State at the Giorgio Cini Venice Foundation. He directs Studi Veneziani and is a member of the editorial board of the Nuova Rivista Storica. His studies and expertise cover Mediterranean history, the history of the civilisation of Venice and the history of the Balkans.

ROBERTA ALTIN Associate professor and lecturer in cultural anthropology at the University of Trieste. She deals with transnational migrations and public and museum anthropology. She is the scientific director of the Museum of the Art of Making and Cutlery in Maniago and coordinates the Interdepartmental Centre on Migration and Cooperation for Sustainable Development at the University of Trieste.

ANTON ŠPACAPAN VONČINA Illustrator, sculptor, recycling performer and set designer. Publishes in magazines, covers, records, books. He has worked in set design for countless short films and films, including Zoran, My Dumb Nephew, Drevo, Babylon Sisters, Menocchio, The Wild Man, The Guiltless Man, River or Death! He is one of the founders of the international festival Če povem 83. In 2022, he published Il figlio della lupa (Bottega Errante Edizioni) with Francesco Tomada.