It’s the independence movement you’ve probably never heard of.
Trieste is by reputation a safe city – among the city’s safest. Police are rarely called upon to investigate violence or riots. But for two rival political liberation movements – Movimento rieste Libera and Movimento Territorio Libero – Trieste is a battle ground.
Both movements (they broke off from each other over internal disagreements last year) believe that Trieste should be a free self-governing city-state – citing a post World War II treaty that was later overturned – and that it is furthermore under illegal occupation by the Italians: whose collection of port taxes is tantamount to theft. A string of 10,000-strong political rallies throughout Trieste (and outside Italian embassies abroad) has galvanized members of the populace, and the red flag of Triestine liberation can be seen in many windows both in Trieste itself and in surrounding villages.
Still, most local people find the movement an amusing, if eccentric, diversion. “They’re all crazy,” one young Triestine rolls his eyes. “I don’t know what they think they’re doing.”