As I began visiting different Italian cities, I noticed that there are a few street and piazza names that seem to crop up again and again. Via/Piazza Garibaldi. Via/Piazza Cavour, Via Mazzini, Via XX Settembre. These are all related to the historical period referred to as the Risorgimento, or ‘resurgence’, during which the various states of the Italian peninsula, many of which were under foreign control, were united into the Italian Kingdom. I will do future posts on different aspects of the Risorgimento and also try to understand why it happened. But that’s for another day.
Over the last few years, on most weekday mornings and evenings, I have walked along London Bridge railway and underground station in Central London, watching the ongoing building work change the London skyline and the feel of the very streets themselves. It’s actually hard to recall what lay before on the spot of the now towering Shard–the tallest building in Western Europe. In London, and indeed in many UK cities, the construction of new buildings has embraced bold, sometimes controversial architectural styles. In this respect, there have been both success and failures, as in any enterprise.
After leaving Florence and going back to Scotland, I did not return to Italy for many years. When I did eventually go back, it was to a place far away from the tourist trail followed by most British visitors–the border city of Trieste in the beautifully named region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is located on the tip of the Istrian peninsula, not far from the Slovenian border, and it is a short trip down the Adriatic to the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.
The reason I chose Trieste was because a friend of mine (whom I’d met in London) lived there. I thought it would be a good idea to go somewhere a bit different and also where I at least knew somebody. It also helped that my friend didn’t really speak much English so I’d be forced to speak Italian the whole time. I really wanted to make a point of only using Italian and not resorting to any English, no matter how tempting.