Over heard on the bus – “ehhh – xe andai tutti al bagno” – the elderly lady ‘s answer when her husband remarked that the bus was almost empty. And indeed, it was a gloriously sunny and exceptionally warm April day and many people were out enjoying the early summer weather at the beach. In Italian going to the beach is “andare al mare”. In Triestine it is “andare al bagno” which is like saying you are going to take a bath in your bathtub!
This is likely because in Trieste the water is literally on your door step. I was on the bus headed to “Il Pedocin” because I had seen pictures in “Il Piccolo” (newspaper) of a street art project there.
Il Pedocin is a pebble strewn city “beach” and has been a beach since the late 1890’s when the city father’s decided that families needed a place right in the city where they could beat the heat and enjoy the cooling sea water. The beach was inaugurated in 1903 when the city was still under the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its rather strict moral sensibilities. The bathing area was named La Lanterna because it was located beside the light house or lanterna but the Triestini have a nickname for everything. In Triestine pedoci are mussels and at one time mussels were cultivated there so the possible origin of the name Pedocin. There is also another possible source for the name. In the era when Franz-Joseph was Emperor the beach would be closed from two until four in the afternoon to allow his soldiers to go and wash themselves in the sea water. They would hang their uniforms on a “ciodin”, a small nail driven into the wall of the changing area. And so the Pedocin could be a derivation of “ciodin”.
Il Pedocin holds a place of pride in the life of Triestini. It is the only segregated beach left in Europe. You cross this big parking lot with a long cement wall at one end. Then you walk through this acqua-blue door, pay one euro, ladies and children head to the left and men to the right and you are on the beach. The beach is separated in two by a cement wall – on one side ladies and children and on the other side the men folk. The ladies and the men each have their own private beach. It has provided a relaxing and pleasurable “bagno” for all for more than one hundred years and the Triestini do not want that to change!
The long wall was grimy, full of graffiti and falling apart. It was restored to its original blue color a couple of years ago. The city decided to ask local street artists to paint a mural on it all in the original and historic blue color.