The Tram to Opicina

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Vineyard viewed from the tram to Opicina

Along with the editing and other work I’ve been doing on the book lately, my brother has been preparing to leave his place in Montereale Valcellina and move here to Trieste. He’ll be staying with me for a while, until he finds work and his own apartment. With luck, that shouldn’t take more than a few months. He’s supposed to be arriving today at some point, or early tomorrow, depending on how far along he is in the process of storing his stuff.

When he was here last weekend, we took the now functional tram from Piazza Oberdan up to Opicina. Maintenance has been an issue, and the tram hadn’t been operational for the last several years, but the trips started up again around the end of July, from what I understand. It is considered bus route 2 in the Trieste transport system. They are operating now about every twenty minutes, from 8am to 7pm. You can use a regular bus ticket for them, and it’s well worth the very inexpensive price for the ride.

The poet rides the tram. Photo by Jim Laurie.

The poet rides the tram. Photo by Jim Laurie.

The views of the city and the coast from the tram are really spectacular between the trees. The funicular track goes up through the steepest part of the route, where the trams are pushed or braked by separate funicular cars that the tram rests against. They are picked up or dropped off at the top and bottom of the funicular track section. There are stops on the funicular section, consisting of tiny shelters on platforms, with stairways leading up into the streets nearby. Most of the steepest area is wooded. From where I live, and around the places I usually travel, you can’t see most of the city. From the tram, one gets a much better feel for how large Trieste is. It’s only a third of the size of Seattle, but it’s much larger than it feels from downtown and the Old Town, where I spend most of my time.

Tram stop in the funicular section

Tram stop in the funicular section

Of course, given that the trams haven’t been operational for quite some time, people forget about the tracks and park there, even though the areas are clearly marked. We had the joyful experience of sitting near one of the stops while we waited for about twenty minutes – tram operator tooting the whistle loudly, frequently, and long – until some young twit came out of the grocery store where he’d been shopping and finally moved his car out of the way. People were fairly sanguine about it. Most of the tram was filled with tourists going up to the obelisk that marks the trail for the Strada Napoleonica, but there were also locals heading up to Opicina and a few of the other stops along the way. Several people made phone calls to inform others that they’d be late.

Passing a tram headed in the other direction. In some sections, the track is doubled so they can pass one another.

Passing a tram headed in the other direction. In some sections, the track is doubled so they can pass one another.

One of the sights easily seen from the tram is the Trieste synagogue. There’s a huge circular rose window with the Star of David plainly visible from the heights. I’d like to go and see it at some point. Photos I’ve seen of the inside are really quite beautiful.

Trieste from the tram. The synagogue can be seen in the center lower right.

Trieste from the tram. The synagogue can be seen in the center lower right.

I’m also intending sometime soon to go up to the Strada Napoleonica to have a hike. I’ve been told it’s a really good trail. There are apparently places that are popular with rock climbers, though I’m not into that sort of thing myself. Heights and I only get along sporadically, and I am just not fit enough to deal with climbing even if we did. That said, I’m very eager to do the trail and spend some time looking down over the city and the coastline.

Bottom of the funicular section entering downtown Trieste. The small part right in front is the funicular tractor.

Bottom of the funicular section entering downtown Trieste. The small part right in front is the funicular tractor.

Opicina itself, at the top of the line, isn’t very large. My brother and I walked a little bit and had an espresso up there, though not much was open, given we’d gone up on a Sunday. The tram station has a bar and some tram-themed gifts and information. There’s a plaque with some of the history of the tram line as well.

Plaque at the Opicina tram station

Plaque at the Opicina tram station

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Garak the gecko

Ready for his close-up

Recently, my apartment has been shared with a gecko. Or perhaps more than one gecko, as one really can’t tell with these things. It’s a common wall gecko, Tarentola mauritanica. A while back, my dog had caught one and bitten its tail off, but this one was hale and hearty, hanging out near the top of the wall and driving the poor dog insane. I have decided to call the gecko collective Garak, as one does if one is a geek. Given that I am a committed arachnophobe, geckos are my preferred option for control of potential indoor bug populations. I’ve seen Garak about the place several times, usually in the evening or late at night. I’ve had the windows and balcony door open most of the time this past month until I go to bed at night, so they may be coming in and out, or they might be hiding behind the bookshelves and such during the day. In any case, yay geckos!

Yesterday I got invited to go up to the local communist meeting house to see Gino perform. He teaches at the University of Trieste, and I met him back in June or early July. He played some songs in English, then his cousin came up to play keyboard with him and they played some songs that Gino had written. I hadn’t realized we’d be outside, so I was wearing my shorts and a tank top as I went up on the bus to Cattinara, where Cristiana picked me up. The temperature was relatively mild and by the end of the evening I was a little chilly, but not very uncomfortable from it. Gino’s pretty good, and I enjoyed the evening. Cristiana was there to photograph and video the performance. I talked a little with some of their friends, though the people spoke very little English and I speak only a little Italian. I told them a little about Seattle; they hadn’t know that wine is made in Washington state, though they’d heard about California wines.

Communists like music too

Communists like music too

At the end of the evening Gino said, “So, you see, Italian communists aren’t bad people. We don’t eat children or anything.” I admitted that I’d never thought they did, though I realize that US politics tends to demonize communism where it’s mentioned at all these days. I told Gino he had to come by my place for a visit at some point, as he has read my poetry book and really enjoys it. I told him he could check out some of the other things I’d done and have a look at my library.

And, as we are mentioning Seattle, I’ve had a new offer on my condo. The previous sale fell through because it had taken too long. With this one, the people who are going to buy it are renting the place until the sale is finalized so, for a month or three, I will be a landlord. Sort of. I’m hoping this will be over quickly and that I let go of it at last.

Gino performs Sultans of Swing

Gino performs Sultans of Swing

 

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4 thoughts on “The Tram to Opicina

  1. parking in Italy, its a creative endeavor. grin. Life sounds busy, and with your brother relocating to Trieste, even more fun to be had. Congrats on his retirement!

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