Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Muggia & San Dorligo della Valle

Muggia is a municipality (“comune” in Italian) immediately south of Trieste, Italy. It has a 7-mile-long coastline along the northeastern Adriatic, forming the northern extremity of the Istrian Peninsula. Muggia shares a border with Slovenia to the south. The western limit of the comune is home to San Rocco, a spa port that today houses a pleasure craft harbor and luxury hotel.

Although Muggia can trace its origin back to the 7th century BCE, the most important date in its history is 1420, when Muggia was incorporated into the Republic of Venice. Much evidence of its association with the Serene Republic can still be seen today, chiefly in its dialect, cuisine and architecture. The main square around the town hall and Cathedral of Saints John and Paul (c. 1263) is a true “campiello” (see photo above). The church has an unusual scalloped white stone facade that incorporates a tracery rose window with Mary and the infant Jesus sculpted in its center.

After the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, Muggia became part of the Austrian Empire, developing an important naval construction industry that flourished until after World War II. The neighboring city of Trieste was the principal port of the Hapsburgs.

Muggia has a crenelated 14th century castle that was restored by its current owner, sculptor Villi Bossi (see photo below). There is a celebrated annual Carnival (carnevale muggesano) that engages most of the town’s citizens, who act out religious allegories while dressed in elaborate costumes.

San Dorligo della Valle is a comune that lies due east of Muggia. It also shares a border with Slovenia. Unlike Muggia, which is populated almost entirely by ethnic Italians, 70% of the inhabitants of San Dorligo della Valle are ethnic Slovenes.

Photo: The hilly Karst region of San Dorligo della Valle.

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