Slovenian community centre in Trieste opens after renovation

Trieste, 11 October - The National Hall at St John's, a community centre in Trieste, was opened after renovation on Wednesday, so Slovenian minority organisations will be able to use it again after more than a century. President Nataša Pirc Musar said at the opening ceremony she hoped it would become a hub for young people to meet and socialise.

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Trieste, Italy
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

The president hopes the renovated centre will enable the socialising of both Italians and Slovenians living in Trieste as well as Slovenians from Italy and Slovenia.

She said that the centre was a great and important acquisition. It took a long time, but it is the result that matters, Pirc Musar said, expressing gratitude to the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and the municipality of Trieste for financing the renovation.

She also praised President of Friuli Venezia Giulia Massimiliano Fedriga and Mayor of Trieste Roberto Dipiazza for their contribution to the reconciliation between Slovenians and Italians.

Fedriga stressed that linguistic diversity was the essence of the region. He said relationships were built by making plans for the future together not dealing with the past. Diplomacy is important, but initiatives coming from the people are much more important, he said.

Dipiazza said the relations between the majority and minority communities in the city were very good. He pointed to the meeting of the Slovenina and Italian presidents, Borut Pahor and Sergio Mattarella, in 2020, assessing that the dramatic 20th centuries had been buried then.

Pirc Musar, Fedriga and Dipiazza symbolically planted a linden tree in the garden at the end of the ceremony.

Pirc Musar also talked with Fedriga about the planned reduction in the number of Slovenian head teachers at Slovenian schools in Italy. Fedriga said he had no powers over the matter but that he would do what he could.

St John's, an area overlooking Trieste's city centre, is already home to several Slovenian schools and associations. The land for the construction of the National Hall was bought in 1895 by 75 members of a Slovenian cooperative.

It was opened in 1903 but was destroyed by the Fascists in 1921. The Fascist Party owned it until the Second World War and the ownership was transferred to the municipality of Trieste after the war. Since it was not in use, the centre was very dilapidated.

With the 2001 minority protection law, Italy committed to handing it back to the Slovenian community and its minority organisations.

The efforts to renovate the building started 19 years ago, but the actual renovation works, valued at over EUR 4 million, started in January 2021. The renovation was fully funded by the regional government of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

The renovated centre spreading across 1,300 square metre features a library and a reading room, a study room, a room for didactic activities, a conference room, exhibition space, research centre and the seats of two cultural associations of the Slovenian community.

The community centre will be operated by the National and Study Library of Trieste and the Slovenian Research Institute (SLORI).

Sara Brezigar, president of SLORI's management board, said that the centre had a very good location because researchers and the library will be close to students. The building will be handed over to the operators in the following months.

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© STA, 2023