National Geographic : 1956 Jun
glance. "Ah, that's one advantage of being at this 'side door to Europe.' Nobody can say we're not in touch with the world." His girl gave a wry laugh. "Sometimes too much in touch. We're a popular spot. Every body's wanted us, and practically everybody's come here to see if he can take us." She shrugged, and her good humor returned. "Still, we survive and go on being ourselves." She was right, I thought. Here is a place of Latin vitality, of continental wit, but, not least, a tough resilience. The Triestini are Italians with a difference. They have little of the Sicilians' traditional languor or the slow calm of the hill towns of Tuscany. As a sage English acquaintance assured me, "The Triestini act with what I'd call, in another part of the world, Yankee energy." 5 ENIT Over our coffees that afternoon we talked of Trieste's strategic location at the "meeting place of Italy and the Balkans," inside a long upper bend of the Adriatic. This is the point of southern Europe into which the sea probes most deeply; Vienna, city of worldly charm, lies in the great Danubian basin only 220 miles away. Along the eastern Adriatic looms the world of the Slavs-until recently in the dim background, but today ever more steadily in the forefront (map, page 834).* History, we agreed, has brought Trieste more than its share of turmoil. During most of its 2,200 years tribes have raided it, great * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Occupied Austria, Outpost of Democracy," June, 1951; and "Yugoslavia, Between East and West," February, 1951, both by George W. Long.