From Muggia to Muggia Vecchia

The shortest way to get from Muggia to the Park of Muggia Vecchia  on foot (40 mins.) is to walk up via Ubaldini, which begins a few metres from the tunnel near the Municipal library. The route winds among the houses as far as a flight of steps in sandstone, recently renovated, which ends at the little church of St.Sebastian (San Bastian). As Giorgio Crevatin records, the church was most probably commissioned by a podestà of Muggia who in 1446, to escape the plague, had moved with all his family to that area.
After being built, the church became the cesa de mezo  [lit. halfway church ]of a penitential path, already known as the “road of forgiveness”, which  stretched from the Cathedral of Muggia up to the “Madonna de Muja Vecia” , dispenser of numerous blessings.
We continue up the tarmac road until it crosses with the ascent to Muggia Vecchia. After a few metres we come across the remains of the Gateway ……. And we enter the old village.

 

 

From the Park of  Muggia Vecchia to the Bay of San Bartolomeo via the Muggia  Crossing

We leave the park, taking the road in the direction of Chiampore, passing the remains of the Porta di Santa Caterina – the gateway closest to parking area – which closed the medieval town to the west. After a few metres we turn to the right and immediately afterwards to the left, along a lane that crosses the north-west side of Monte San Michele. The area is being urbanised, but we can still see the last old fields where, up until the 60s, there was grazing, and wheat, maize, beans, grapes, garlic, seasonal fruit, melns and peas were cultivated.  The popular bisi de Muja  [Muggia peas] reached the market in Trieste already at the end of March, beginning of April. At No. 20/c we go down steeply to Zindis where the eye is caught by the C19th architecture of the Villa del Principe, which belonged to the Archduke Lodovico Salvatore d’Asburgo Lorena, a man of immense culture and a great explorer-botanist of the Mediterranean, who lived here for a long time, from 1876 to 1914.
Crossing the main road we follow a hairpin bend and, in front of one of the oldest and largest oaks in the area, we turn into a dirt road which progresses on the level among the houses. At the side of the building that once housed a restaurant, the entrance to a bunker is visible. These are the remains of Battery No. 2 of the defensive system of the port of Trieste and, below, of the shipyards of S. Rocco (today a nautical port), which built warships for the Austrian navy. The Battery was built between 1858 and 1864, contained long-range cannons and was integrated with the other fortified zones in the area.  
Some metres after the bunker begins the “Wood of the Archduke”, as once belonging to the Villa above.  The oaks constitute the natural wood of the entire slope together with the black hornbeam¸ the flowering ash, the field maple, the dogwood and the privet. To these species other Mediterranean elements are joined, such as the wild asparagus, the wild madder, the woodbine, the  emero, the smoke-tree, the bramble, the traveller’s joy and the geracio ombrellato.  In the damper zones there a thick covering of ivy forms on the ground, while where there is more light the herbaceous carpet consists chiefly of sesleria argentina. In the wood, on an impluvium of the basin of the river Ronchi in which there is water only after heavy rain, a cistern was constructed, according to the date engraved on the wall, in 1899. This replenished the wash-house below that was used by the staff of the Archduke for washing clothes, sheets and other laundry articles.
The wood is penetrated by other occasional streams whose function is to lead off the rainwater, taking it down to the sea. In some places there are still visible the works carried out for the hydraulic regulation such as dykes, bridges, and other walls in sandstone, unfortunately in part collapsed. The name Ronchi-Ronk (from roncola, a small pruning hook) recalls a place where, traditionally, the trees were periodically cut.    We continue along the dirt road to reach a flat area, prospective witness to sea levels higher than the present. The area is a meadowland of strong spring scents, cultivated and mowed in the past for fodder. It consists of a fine soil, clayey or clayey-muddy in texture, which encourages the growth of tall meadow-grass.  The thick felt surface of its roots succeeds in rapidly capturing the water of short summer showers.  Alongside the meadow-grass other species typical of the meadows are frequently to be found growing in the herbaceous stratum, as well as species of shrubs and bushes.
Also present are many types of geophyte, among them 14 species belonging to the Orchid family. Among the birds it is easy to number the melodious warbler, the tawny pipit, the Sardinian warbler, the blackcap, the common whitethroat, the subalpine warbler, the blackbird, the cirl bunting, the rock bunting and the corn bunting. In the surrounding wood, which is invading the old cultivated land, it is easy to descry the tracks of the deer, the fox and also the badger. Numerous plucked feathers and remains of meals indicate the presence of birds of prey. Close to some ruins are holm oaks, evergreen, planted artificially. In the past the acorns of this oak were use to fatten pigs. Other oak trees have grown spontaneously on the slope. From the upland it is possible to go down to the sea to the “T” pier and to Porto San Rocco. We go up the slope again on a track towards San Floriano, leaving on the left an isolated cypress, in order to reach Forte Olmi and the black pinewood that surrounds it. This artificial pinewood, known as “Wood of the Fortress”, was singled out by Muggia doctors as the best "restorative" for respiratory diseases. They would invite their patients to go there in the morning, when a breeze was rising up from the sea, which favoured the spreading of the balsamic properties of the resinous plants.
Fort Olmi was one of the strategic points in the defence of the port. It was encircled by a moat and was reached by a drawbridge of which there remain, clearly visible, two side pillars on the small road that connects San Floriano to Chiampore. It contained cannons, mortars and light guns. The powder kegs bear the date 1864. It had already been abandoned before the First World War and was used again by the army for military exercises in the Thirties, and used as  an anti-aircraft post in the Second World War when  a small barracks was built inside, inhabited today.
From the fort we go down the slope towards the sea and the bay of San Bartolomeo. Scattered about in the countryside are old olive trees of the native Bianchera cultivation and the remains of vineyards. From Lazzaretto, built in the mid-C19th as a place to quarantine sailors and today a logistics base for the army, we go left towards the small harbour that opens onto the bay which preserves, submerged, some Roman piers and fish tanks. (Bus 7 for Muggia – excursion takes 1½ hours)


 

Suggested reading
AA. VV.,  2008, Sui sentieri della penisola di Muggia. Giornate dell’agricoltura, pesca e forestazione
Brichetti P., Benussi E., 1995,  Analisi delle comunità ornitiche nidificanti e valutazione ecologica del territorio dei comuni di Trieste, Muggia e San Dorligo della Valle. (Prima fase). Osservatorio Faunistico di Trieste, Trieste.
Caroli A., 1998, Guida di Muggia antica e moderna, La Mongolfiera Libri, Trieste.
Casagrande L., Codogno M., 2003, La vegetazione forestale tra Punta Ronco e Punta Sottile da Quanto vale la costa muggesana? La parola agli esperti - Sala Millo 25.1.2003, Muggia
Crevatin G., 2011, La chiesa di San Sebastiano in Muggia d’Istria, Muggia
Pobega F., Stener F., Tercovich F., 1992, Da Muggia a Lazzaretto – Passeggiata storico-naturalistica attraverso i colli di Muggia, da Alpi Giulie secondo semestre, Società Alpina delle Giulie – Sezione del CAI di Trieste,  Trieste
Tomasi E., 1991, L’Itinerario Paola Rizzi – Itinerario storico naturalistico a Muggia, Edizioni Italo Svevo, Trieste.

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