It is only recently that the terrible events involving Italy & Yugoslavia at the end of WWII, have been acknowledged. It is a very painful period where atrocities were perpetrated by both countries, eventually leading up to the Istrian Exodus. In brief, from 1947 –the year The Treaty of Paris was signed giving Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia to Yugoslavia to 1956 –when the towns of Zone B of the Free Territory of Trieste were also ceded, ethnic Italians, living in Istria, Dalamatia and Fiume left in droves to avoid persecution by the Yugoslavian government. Nicknamed “Optanti” or “Choosers” by Yugoslavians, the Italians, in fact, referred to themselves as “Esuli” or “Exiles”. Once they arrived in Trieste they were placed in refugee camps which had been set up until they could either be processed back into the Italian system or allowed to emigrate overseas. One of the camps was in the old rice husking factory, La Risiera di San Sabba that during WW2 had been used as a crematiorium by the Nazis and the other was in the hills of the Carso. The conditions were appalling and suffering was widespread. The exodus lasted from 1947-1960. In fact, many here still remember those days and often visits to the Magazzino 18 are more “pilgrimages” than tourist visits.
The Esuli came with what they could carry and once processed, their belongings were taken until such time they supposedly would be returned to them. Magazzino 18 is basically a warehouse where all of these items have been collected over the years. You can see everything from bedroom sets to childrens’ toys and books, family portraits, paintings, rooms with endless numbers of chairs, dressers, kitchen utensils, work tools, they look like contenders for Guiness Book World Record for single largest collection of household items.
Magazzino 18 is a moving short video compiled of photographs & footgage collected by Vincenzo Chiera on Youtube with the music by renowned Italian folksinger, Simone Cristicchi who, in 2013, produced a theatrical piece of the same name.
This testament to this difficult time in Italian history is accessible by appointment only. Magazzino 18 is in the Porto Vecchio and you must enter with a photo ID or passport. The Old Port is a fascinating relic worth a visit on its own — abandoned for years, it covers acres and acres of coastline. The brainchild of Maria Therese of Austria, the Free Port was once the lifeblood of Trieste, turning the it into one of the most important and busiest ports of Europe and bringing along with it trade, wealth and power.
There is also the Museum dedicated to the history of the people of Istria, Dalmatia and Fiume which is located in town near Piazzale Hortis, The IRCI Regional Institute for Istriano-Fiumana-Dalmatian Culture.
Among those whose families left Istria or Dalmatia in the post-World War II period include:
- Alida Valli, film actress
- Mario Andretti, racing driver
- Lidia Bastianich, chef
- Nino Benvenuti, boxer: three times professional world’s champion and Olympic gold medalist
- Enzo Bettiza, novelist, journalist and politician
- Valentino Zeichen, poet and writer
- Laura Antonelli, film actress, active 1965 to 1991
- Sergio Endrigo, singer and songwriter
Guided tours: from April 16th al 20 February 2015 by appointment – call +39/3343352284 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org