The Italian Riveter: Postcard from Trieste by Lily-Amber Laila Wadia

I arrived at the train station in Trieste with a quote, an anecdote and a warning in mind.

The quote was the title of Welsh writer Jan Morris’s novel: Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. A staunch believer that my home is the world, not the place of birth stamped on my passport, I was intrigued to visit a Nowhere.

The anecdote related to one of my favourite writers – expat, exiled and exhilarated, like myself. Someone who had walked the streets of this Nowhere to produce one of the world’s greatest masterpieces. So excited was he to explore the city of Trieste, that James Joyce, in search of a hotel, forgot his wife and his luggage at the train station for half a day. In my mind’s eye I saw Nora waiting patiently, hoping that he had found a nice room somewhere instead of chatting away with Umberto Saba or Italo Svevo.

The warning hit me with a force I had underestimated: the Bora wind blowing at 130 kph. Trieste sweeps you off your feet literally and literarily.

I walked, or maybe flew, past Piazza Oberdan, another writer’s words buzzing in my head: Boris Pahor of Trieste’s Slovene community and his Second World War memoir closely connected with the piazza in question.

The Bora wind certainly seemed to come from nowhere, wild and unpredictable, but having lived here for over thirty years I realise its prime purpose is to carry the words of its chroniclers – from Magris to Covacich to Heinichen – everywhere.

By Lily-Amber Laila Wadia


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