Trieste, Wednesday, November 17, 1954, at 6:10 PM.

Trieste, Wednesday, November 17, 1954, at 6:10 PM. Despite the gusts of bora wind that have been tormenting the city for days. The Rossetti Politeama is packed and awaiting the second performance of “Nabucco.” The spectators slowly filling the theater are daring opera enthusiasts or simple audience members seeking entertainment after a cold, windy winter day. Everyone is especially anticipating the third part of the opera. “Va pensiero.”

This “Aria” unites the Jewish people, the local Triestine population, and the Istrian exiles in a single musical celebration. Adopted as an anthem for the homeland under the rule of an emperor, it is a song of victory for a finally liberated Trieste. But for the people of Fiume and Dalmatia, it symbolizes the solemn cry recalling their exodus from the lost lands… “O my country so beautiful and lost…”

The Verdi’s statue

In Trieste, Verdi’s statue was destroyed by the Austrians and later reconstructed. In Piazza San Giovanni, often referred to as Piazza Verdi to create confusion with Teatro Verdi Square, an epigraph reads: “Erected in marble by the faith of the citizens on January 27, 1906, destroyed by enemy hatred (the Austrians 862554) on May 20, 1915, the municipality wished for it to be rebuilt in bronze on May 26, 1926.”

Trieste has been part of Italy for a short time. In fact, at 10 AM on Tuesday, October 26, General Renzi assumed civil and military powers for Trieste and the Zone “A,” definitively assigned to Italy.

It was in another dark bora day.

The theater is fully booked.

tram line 6.

The tram, with its trailer, from line 6 coming from Barcola, after a stop at the red light of the crossroads between Via Milano, Via Nizza (now Via Coroneo), and Via Carducci, travels the latter towards Via Cesare Battisti.

Hotel Milano, located on Via Ghega since 1923, hosts the baritone and commendatore Benvenuto Franci. With his fur-collared coat raised, a well-pressed hat on his head, a thick red wool scarf tightly wrapped around his mouth and knotted to protect his musical instrument: his voice.

The commendatore leaves the hotel early.

The baritone and the hat they turns left passing in front of the hotel’s restaurant. He walks, buffeted by the gusts, along the short stretch of the street.

He knows little about Trieste, but in seven days of stay, he has learned that the arrows on poles that – today facing the wrong way – indicate “Villa Opicina, Postumia border, San Canziano caves, Abbazia, Fiume,” which he would encounter by traveling the street in the other direction, towards Piazza Dalmazia, visibly shake, subjected to the furious gusts. But perhaps he does not know that Piazza Vittorio Veneto is certainly no more protected. Anyway, in the end, one must choose a direction in a city subjected to the storm but where life goes on normally. Destination: the Politeama Rossetti.

Defending himself from the gusts.

The windiest point in the city.

He passes, unaware, one of the windiest points in the city. The baritone skirts the Railway Palace in front of the Post Office building, where the two statues of cherubs dressed as postmen, like every winter, freeze insensible.

He turns onto Via Valdirivo.

That Wednesday, the bora is not as deadly as it was in January and February, but the windy swirls still push and “bump” him decisively towards Via Carducci. A stronger gust almost blows his hat away. Quickly, he extracts his gloved hand from his pocket and manages to hold it down firmly on his head. He pauses for a moment to recover from the surprise. With that Arctic and piercing cold that penetrates the thick fabric, driven by the moving air, he almost loses his hat! 

“Warm feet and head,” they had recommended to him. For his profession, catching a cold would be a considerable setback.

the bora perpetrates one of its misdeeds.

However, when the baritone and his hat crossing Via Carducci, the bora perpetrates one of its misdeeds. Essentially, two simultaneous negative events occur : he is preoccupied, and a more targeted gust, with an upward vortex, are combined. This time, the bora manages to snatch his hat away. His arms quickly reach out to grab it, but in vain…

Suspended in the air with vague unpredictable movements and then on the asphalt, the hat rolls, slides, flips, at times seems stationary and within reach, and a moment later, as if caught by the line of an invisible fisherman, slips away from his hands when it seemed almost within reach. Bowed, leaning forward, quick (agitated, frenetic, disordered, short) steps, his hands desperately extended and absolutely oblivious to his surroundings, the commendatore chases after it in a frenzied race that at times seems almost accomplished, but then turns out to be a lost battle.

Romano Mosetti, the tram’s driver, now in motion, sees a shadow rolling beyond the tracks towards the newsstand on the other side of the street. Instinctively, he activates the “horn.”

In Trieste, the bora carries sounds far away even when they have just originated, and people remain as deaf, always fanned and yet unaware.

The tram driver turns his gaze.

The tram driver turns his gaze to the left and focuses on a swirling hat. This time, he quickly activates the brakes while rapidly turning the steering wheel and continuously sounding the horn.

He knows well that behind a hat, there is certainly a head trying to reach it. Although the speed is reduced and the journey has just begun after the traffic light, the trailer is heavy and pushes, and the tram rattles and protests. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have time to see a figure move swiftly, low, crouched, arms outstretched, coat visibly agitated, the red, thick scarf waved crashing noisily onto the front right “fender,” and then rolling outstretched along the asphalt. 

No “Nabucco” for that evening and the following ones.

The baritone will recover from the injuries and fractures due to the impact thanks to the timely assistance provided after being rescued and transported to the hospital by a police patrol passing by; given the speed of the intervention, the ambulance that arrived with sirens blaring will no longer find the patient.

Later admitted to the Sanatorio Triestino, the baritone Benvenuto Franci, soon recovered, will be able to reach his villa at 56 Via Nizza in Rome, lovingly accompanied by his wife and daughter, after a short time. 

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