British Element Trieste Force 1945 - 1954
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I wrote recently about the surprise and excitement I felt when I read that the James Morris who started off the chain of information - in the form of a coded wireless message from base camp on Everest - that Hilary and Tensing had been successful in their attempt on Everest, which later reached me on Coronation day 1953, announced by Loris the mess barman, was the Jan Morris who wrote the book.
I have just finished rereading it and would like to urge everyone to read it. Almost every page reveals something about the city, its surroundings and its history which you may not have known before.
From quite a different source I heard about Sisi who may be best known today because of a musical about her; the musical includes the song "I just want to be me".
Where is the statue? Who was she really?
You will find the statue in the small park on front of the Bus and Triain station.
Quite right, Roland. I have to admit I've never seen it as clearly as it seems in the photo. it has always been half obscured by the trees.
I cannot claim to know even the names of the of the Hapsburg emperors. There are family trees available on-line but my wits are too feeble to memorise them.
Jan Morris, however, gives a graphic description of the arrival of Maximilian at the Obilisk, having arrived safely over the wastes of the Karst (Carso) and the first time set grateful eyes on the sea and the city below. Little did he know of the intrigue and fate which awaited him.
The Hotel Obelisco was intended to be a very high class place but it fell into a decline and I'm not sure how it fares now
This photo was taken about ten years ago.
D'you know, in all the years I have known Trieste, I cannot recall ever having noticed that statue. I'll have to make a point of looking if I get to Trieste this year.
The first paragraph of Jan Morris's book begins:
"If you come to it by car.......the road crosses the border out of Slovenia and reaches the village of Opicina, where the plateau abruptly falls away through the pine woods towards the sea. There a tall obelisk marks the beginning of the city. It was erected in 1830 to commemorate the completion of the first proper highway across the Karst, connecting Vienna with its seaport on the Adriatic. Now thr monument if peeling and neglected and its setting is suburban, but when it was new it told the grateful taveller that his journey across the wasteland was over, aand he was reaching a haven of imperial order – an up-to-date Mediterranean outpost of the Empire of the Hapsburgs.
The young Austrian Archduke Ferdinad Joseph Maximilian came this way in 1850 and thought the Karst a cursed desert, but he saw the distant appearance of the Obelisk as a symbol of hope, and urged his coachman to get a move on."
One of the underlying themes of Jan Morris's book is the part played by Trieste as the port of the Austrian Empire, hence the statue of Empress Elisabetta or "Sisi" as she was known. Part of the city's lack of significance is the fact that Rome sees it as an unwelcome rival to its major ports.
Vienna was also the birthplace of Johann Strauss the "Waltz King" and Vienna was known as the Waltz Capital. I've been trying to find that picture of the folks waltzing in Piazza Unita because it occurs to me that they may be continuing a tradition from those far-off days.
Many people believe that Trieste would be better off as an independent free port like, say, Singapore.