Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trieste, Italy; A Chrystal from a Dissolved Past

Trieste, Italy

Like a paper plane we glide off the mountain onto the gaping flat of Trieste. Draga cheers when we see the ocean Streets become narrower Scooters gather like salmon, spawning more scooters, going somewhere in huddled schools. Buildings become more buildings, more grandiose, more exuberant.
Square of United Italy,
Trieste, Italy

It’s December. The town is virtually abandoned. I’m sure in the summer you wouldn’t be able to park a roller-skate anywhere in these alleys, let alone a car, but now we slide without effort into a spot smack on the boulevard. It’s been dark and rainy for two weeks but today we’re blessed with a warm, winter sun, a stark blue sky and a city that is breathless and bodacious.

Everywhere we look details arrest our attention. From every rooftop stare marble eyes. Streets lead to squares, with more statues and flags fly off high poles: Italian, Europe, the town’s own colors, as if Trieste is the heart of something so anchored in both past and future, locality and globality, that it exists silently and indigenously in the music pouring from restaurants, the racket of traffic and the cry of seagulls over the marina.

Draga in Italy
Timeless grace
Draga has a tourist guide to Europe that she carries everywhere with her. She’s half-way a degree in art history, but I keep drawing heavily off an art class I took once one summer, and bluff my way through the most precarious discussions on art. A great imagination sees more than a Ph. D. said someone once. I think it was my grandpa. He never finished high school but he thought himself to play violin, and I once saw him stretch an E-string into an A-string.

     “What are you talking about?” she says, a bit nervous, it seems.
Before I can remind her of my grandpa who taught me that somebody who can stretch an E-string into an A-string needs not read tourist guides, Draga briskly rips the Trieste page from her book and submits it to the icy gale. It flutters briefly by the flags, flops into the face of a naked guy on a roof and continues its journey on its own.

Trieste, Italy

Trieste’s charm lies in it neither being huge nor small. It’s not a village that’s recognized in a mere glance, nor a suffocating metropolis that can never be truly known. The wealth upon which is was obviously founded has long since been dispersed over its thieves and clients. What remains are the waiters, the street sweepers, the committee that sets up the Christmas trees, the statues on the roofs and the tourists who were here to see it.

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